Leeds United: Evans sets top-10 goal by the end of the year

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Steve Evans has called on his squad to push into the top half of the table and involve themselves in a battle at the top end as the season reaches its climax.

Leeds United would have climbed into the top half if they had managed to beat Rotherham at the weekend, a game that they lost 1-0.

Steve Evans.

Steve Evans.

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The Whites travel to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday with another opportunity to move above Fulham and into the top 12. Despite their loss, Leeds are still only two points away from the managerless Craven Cottage side. QPR themselves have been disappointing relative to their expectations of challenging for promotion since the start of the campaign. They are currently a point ahead of United in 15th.

Evans believes that if the team can take advantage of the clear opportunity open to them in the table and embed themselves in the division’s upper reaches, the potential for a play-off battle will encourage Leeds owner Massimo Cellino to spend in the January transfer window.

He said: “We all know this coming month does shape the rest of the season. I think for us, we have to keep ourselves involved with the top half of the table. When we come out of that game against Derby County at Elland Road late in December, we have to make sure we are in that top 10 pack. That’s when the season starts to get a little bit interesting at both ends.

“If we can get ourselves in that top 10, it also gives the owner and everyone around here every incentive to support what you want to do, if you can get into that little group.”

Leeds travel to Loftus Road knowing that they have one of the better away records in the Championship. While they have struggled at home, there are only four teams in the second tier who have performed better on the road.

Asked whether players are struggling to match up to the expectation of playing at Elland Road, Evans admitted he believed there are some players in the squad who are not the “right type of player” to play for the club. He said: “Players win football matches, is there any less pressure away from home if you are at Leeds United? I don’t know.

“Half of the ground is normally full of Leeds fans. There’s still a lot of people there. You have to be the right type of player to play at Leeds United. We have a lot of players in the building who are, and some who are not.”

Bringing in the right type of player is what Evans is now eyeing up for the January transfer window, something that he says the club are already working towards, and admits he might revisit past deals.

Explaining the club’s outlook and that he believes he is being backed, he said: “The planning will not just happen at Christmas Eve. Some of the things we have tried to do in the last few weeks will be worked on again through December, hopefully ready to run early in January.

“I’ve been given every encouragement to pick up the telephone and identify players and to work with Martyn (Glover, Leeds recruitment officer). We’ve emailed different clubs with offers. you’re not doing that to kid people on. One thing I’ve learned about Mr Cellino is that yes is yes and no is no. People might not like the ‘no’s at times, I don’t think he pussyfoots around. If he does not want you spending any money, he would tell you.”

Felix Wiedwald

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