A stunned Steve Evans admitted that “five or six” new players were needed after a 2-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers turned up the heat on Massimo Cellino and left Leeds United fighting to avert a full-blown crisis.
United owner Cellino – already on the brink of another Football League ban – faced chants for him to sell his stake in the club last night as Leeds imploded dramatically in Evans’ first home game as head coach.
The Scot, who replaced Uwe Rosler last week and celebrates his 53rd birthday today, looked on in disbelief as Blackburn Rovers secured their first away win of the season, helped by a goal after 18 seconds from Craig Conway –the fastest ever conceded at home by Leeds. Jordan Rhodes added a second in the sixth minute, leading to mutiny on the terraces as a crowd of 19,000 turned their fire on Cellino.
The Italian’s grip on Leeds, who he bought in April 2014, is slipping again after the Football League moved to disqualify him from running the club following his recent conviction for tax evasion. Cellino is appealing that ruling but is under growing pressure from United’s support with the club three points above the Championship’s relegation zone.
Evans warned that the existing squad would “be in a battle to stay in the division” but said: “We won’t get sucked in. I’ve come in to sort it out.
“If you take bravery away, the first thing you have to analyse is whether people are good enough. It’s very evident whether you’re Steve Evans or Jose Mourinho that we need to get better players in. I think five or six to turn it round.
“The league table doesn’t lie. It’s a big job and we knew that already. The crowd haven’t seen a win for seven-and-a-half months and they’re on edge when they walk through the door. They’re entitled to be unhappy. If I’m honest, I thought the supporters were reserved. It might have been a bit more at 2-0 down in six minutes. We have no excuses. It wasn’t good enough.”
Evans said he had refrained from barracking his players at half-time or at the end of the match but warned: “This club has a history that demands a future. I said to the players they’ll control their own destiny – whether they’re part of the future or whether they’re very quickly going to become history.”