Leeds United: Evans relishes prospect of play-off pressure with the Whites

Steve Evans
Steve Evans
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STEVE Evans is ready to embrace the increased pressure that will face Leeds United next season and will match chairman Massimo Cellino’s pledge to lose out personally if the Whites fail to make the play-offs.

Evans’ future as Whites head coach remains in huge doubt with Cellino criticising the Scot in a national newspaper interview last weekend and with Evans’ rolling contract expiring this summer.

United’s Italian owner told the Daily Telegraph that his head coach “talked too much” and that he “could not work with English managers” with the fact that Evans is Scottish likely by the by.

Cellino has since announced details of an ambitious and innovative scheme concerning 2016-17 season ticket costs which are frozen in price but will offer fans a return on their money should the club fail to at least make the play-offs.

And Evans has confidently declared he is the man to take United into the top six and that he will quit his position in the unlikely event that he fails.

The 53-year-old is known to have attracted the interest of several other clubs – with Nottingham Forest, Bolton and even Celtic mooted as possible options – but Evans is desperate to stay at Elland Road.

Evans said: “I will have employment next season, 100 per cent, a million per cent but I want to be the head coach at Leeds United and absorb the pressure that is going to come with the role.

“When the club makes a decision to offer money back on season tickets if they don’t get in the play-offs, then the pressure lies with being in the play-offs and that, quite rightly, will lie with whoever takes that role.

“I’m made to make us better, I’m made to make us a promotion team, accompanied by the staff and that’s important – that they are around.

“And it’s important that we add some real quality to what is already some real quality downstairs.”

Asked if he would mirror Cellino’s pledge and make a personal sacrifice if Leeds fail to reach the play-offs, Evans admitted: “If I don’t put a promotion team on the pitch then I won’t stay.

“I think I have to believe and you have to sometimes deliver against your words. There’s too many people in football who promise lots and deliver nothing.

“When I have said the start of the season ‘I can deliver promotion’, if you go and ask the previous owners and chairman that I have worked for – I have delivered them promotion.

“There’s massive potential here and I think we have identified that for a while.”

United showed more signs of fulfilling that potential when impressing to beat Wolves 2-1 at Elland Road on Tuesday and make it three league wins in succession and six victories from their last 10 games.

United are 11th in the table with three games left and sizing up a top-10 finish ahead of Saturday’s trip to fourth-placed Hull City.

Evans says that just as United are improving, so too is he as a head coach.

“I’m a better manager now,” said the former Rotherham United and Crawley Town boss.

“You think you manage and you don’t really know what it’s like until you take on a giant, until you go inside a football club and the previous managers and head coaches that have been here at previous times have told me that – Brian McDermott reiterated it on Saturday.

“But Leeds United supporters want to win football matches and they want a team capable of being, if not being in the Premier League, then fighting to be in the Premier League – with a genuine challenge where you are there from the start of the season all the way through, not trying to come with a wet sail.

“I’m certainly a manager who is much, much improved from my time at Leeds United.

“If Leeds United decide that they don’t want Steve Evans then I might not want that decision but I will respect it and I will still be there sitting in the seats if they are ever playing to be near that Premier League. I will be one of the fans paying in.”