Steve Evans insisted he was satisfied with the support given to him by Massimo Cellino in the emergency loan market after sealing the signing of Liam Bridcutt before last night’s deadline.
Leeds United’s drawn-out pursuit of Bridcutt ended in success yesterday (Nov 26) when the Sunderland midfielder joined the club until January but Evans failed with a late push to add a striker to his squad.
The club’s head coach made approaches for Middlesbrough forward Kike and Swansea City’s Marvin Emnes in the final hours of the Football League’s window but saw both approaches rejected ahead of a 5pm deadline.
Evans, who is likely to start Bridcutt away at Queens Park Rangers tomorrow, had hoped to sign as many as three players before the loan market closed and claimed United had spoken with “eight or nine clubs” in the past week – and said he had no complaints about the backing offered to him by Cellino.
Cellino’s future as United owner has been in serious doubt for the past month with a Football League disqualification hanging over him and the volatile Italian considering selling his majority stake in the club.
But Evans, who missed out on Charlton Athletic’s Tony Watt earlier this week after refusing to meet the striker’s valuation, said: “We’ve been trying to spend money. We were very close on two but couldn’t get there – one with the club and the other with the personal terms.
“I’ve been given every encouragement to pick up the phone and identify players. You’re not doing that to kid people on. The one thing I learn about Mr Cellino is that yes is yes and no is no. People might not like the ‘nos’ at times but I don’t think he pussy-foots around.
“If he didn’t want to be spending more money he would tell you straight. Until you see players sign on the dotted line you never know one million per cent for sure but we’ve spoken to eight or nine clubs in the last week, all trying to do different bits of business.
“In an ideal world we’d have got three players in. We didn’t want four or five. We’ve got one in (Bridcutt) and we think it’s a big improvement but it’s easy to say that. The boy has to come in now and deliver the performances.”
Bridcutt, 26, has been frozen out at Sunderland and has not played a first-team game this season but he brings the experience of more than 150 Football League appearances to Elland Road after a successful spell at Brighton between 2010 and 2014.
Evans chased Bridcutt for several weeks and his interest in him appeared to have collapsed earlier this month but the United boss resurrected the deal during discussions at Thorp Arch late on Wednesday night, with Bridcutt on the verge of joining Cardiff City on loan.
Evans said: “He was the first player I identified to bring in. Everyone knows how good a player Liam can be. He’s a combative, box-to-box midfield player.
“I think we all thought it had fallen through. Possibly at lunchtime (on Wednesday) I did think myself that he was going to be going somewhere else but I met him here and for an hour-and-a-half we spoke about football.
“I expected the kid to say ‘let me sleep on it’ but he didn’t. He had a little chat with his family and then said he wanted to be here. That was important to me.”
As Bridcutt arrived, Leeds moved unexpectedly to end Will Buckley’s loan at Elland Road a month ahead of schedule.
Buckley joined United from Sunderland on a deal to January while Uwe Rosler was head coach at Leeds and the club agreed the move with a view to a permanent deal but Buckley started only one game and was allowed to rejoin his parent club yesterday.
Evans said the decision had been taken because of a plan to offer more game time to Jordan Botaka, the Congo international who Leeds recruited from Dutch club Excelsior in the summer.
Evans said: “Everyone can accept that Jordan can be frustrating at times but he’s got electric pace and we’ve been working with him on his decision-making. He’s got great ability
“We’ve signed Liam Bridcutt and he’s a loan signing but we want as much as we can to be playing Leeds United players who are here on a permanent basis. That was the main reason for us allowing Will to go back. That was one of the factors.”