Whenever you judge a head coach, you have to consider his performance on the basis of the resources available to him.
In the case of Steve Evans there’s no point comparing where Leeds United are in comparison to other Championship clubs. You have to think about what he’s done with the players he inherited – and what those players were ever likely to achieve.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t think our squad is good enough to compete strongly in this league. We could be higher up the table, that’s true, and we probably would have been higher with a bit more luck in certain games, but in terms of judging Steve, I’d look more at the way the players are performing than I would at results.
In reality, we’re a hard team to beat. We’ve drawn too many games to get near to the play-offs but we’re not a soft touch.
I’d certainly say that, in the past two or three months, I’ve seen an improvement in the attitude of certain players.
Some who seemed to be going through the motions before now look properly engaged and more effective.
Steve’s got a good shift out of Souleymane Doukara – a striker who, let’s be honest, most of us had forgotten about until recently – and Giuseppe Bellusci is in decent form too.
Those are two lads who, a few months ago, were contributing very little, but using them and improving them is a good example of a head coach making the best of what he’s got.
I’ve always liked Liam Bridcutt and I’m happy with the addition of Toumani Diagouraga to the team. It’s not been enough to turn us into a strong team but those two – Bridcutt especially – have made us more solid and less flaky. We look like we’ll be safe from relegation this season and a few more wins will probably confirm that. I don’t see the bottom three catching us unless they get on an unbelievable run.
So what next for Steve? I accept that when he took over he probably wasn’t the fashionable appointment, but I don’t think anyone can deny that he’s done a decent job here. And if he feels like he’s earned the chance to have a proper go next season, I can understand why.
It’s easy to be clever about coaches, but don’t forget that some of the most successful in England were far from obvious choices – Revie, Shankly, Ferguson. Don Revie only got the chance at Leeds because it occurred to the board that he was finishing up as a player and might be an option. I’m not for one moment comparing Evans to Revie but I would ask people to be fair when they think about the way Steve has dealt with a difficult job here.
We’ve got 14 games to go and, personally, I’d like to see us get a little bit closer to safety before any big decisions are made about next season.
It would be much better to know that we’re 100 per cent safe before attention turns to the summer.
Don’t get me wrong, the summer is going to be very important for us.
We’ve had enough poor close-seasons to have learned the lesson about what we need to do and how we need to prepare but we’re not quite there yet.
I don’t really see what would be achieved by diverting attention away from the fixtures in front of us.
Once we’re safe, once the season is almost done, that’s the time for the owner and Steve to sit down and work out what comes next.
In terms of whether Steve deserves to stay on, I think you have to consider what he’s done with these players – a good job in my opinion – and on that basis, what he might do with better players; with players he’s able to sign and with players he wants.
I was genuinely worried when he came in that we’d go down. I thought he’d do well to keep us up.
In fairness, keeping us out of trouble hasn’t been an ordeal for him and we’ve never been that close to the bottom three.
As a head coach it’s been a very steady performance. And I think he deserves credit for it.