Leeds United: Players’ efforts showed me we’re all in same boat - Evans

Steve Evans. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Steve Evans. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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STEVE EVANS believes that the collective resolve of players and staff in the immediate aftermath of Leeds United’s seasonal nadir at Brighton provided a “ray of hope” in his quest to re-establish himself as the club’s head coach.

An upturn in recent form has provided welcome respite for the Scot, who will become the longest-serving head coach under Massimo Cellino at Elland Road next month.

It’s a far cry from just under three weeks ago when frenzied speculation suggested he was on the brink of the sack after a torrid 4-0 defeat at the Amex Stadium on February 29.

That shambolic display saw Leeds concede four goals in a calamitous first half, prompting club owner Cellino to leave at half-time, with Evans ordered not to do his usual round of press interviews following the game.

Despite rumours being rife that Evans would be axed, Cellino elected to stick by his man and has been vindicated by way of three successive victories for United, who will record four straight league wins for the first time since November 2009 if they beat derby rivals Huddersfield Town this afternoon.

Despite a fraught time immediately following the Brighton loss, Leeds have closed ranks successfully and have drawn some strength out of that adversity.

It is a source of pride to Evans in a week when the transitory nature of Championship management was further underlined by Neil Lennon and Dougie Freedman leaving Bolton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest respectively.

Those dual exits took the number of managerial departures in the second-tier this season up to a considerable 15.

Evans said: “You go in a job and out of a job and it is an industry where people don’t tend to be around too long.

“I have the greatest of sympathies with those two guys who have gone this week as I can only imagine what they must feel like.”

On his own precarious situation at the start of this month, he added: “I described Brighton as a hellish 24 hours and very difficult to take.

“But I had confidence shown in me, not just by the people above me, but by staff and my players and that always gives you a ray of hope.

“And when I have watched the efforts and the desires of the players after going through that, you know you are in the boat together.”

On the turnaround, he added: “Winning brings confidence and positivity. We were under severe pressure after Brighton; no-one had to tell us any of that – players or staff.

“There’s been a nice resolute attitude from everyone that said we knew what we had to do against Bolton and managed to get that.

“I don’t think many people around the country gave my players a chance of winning at Cardiff or Blackburn.

“But we believed that these players in the dressing room are capable of winning a lot of football matches.

“But it is easy to sit and talk and be the coach who talks. It’s nicer when you are talking after you have achieved it.”

Tumultuous and chaotic off-the-field developments may have been commonplace at United for several seasons, but recent turmoil at the likes of Middlesbrough, Charlton Athletic and Derby County have shown that those sorts of events are not exclusively reserved to Leeds.

In comparison to events at Boro – whose head coach Aitor Karanka did not attend Sunday’s match at Charlton after a dressing-room row at the end of last week before resuming his duties this week – Leeds has been relatively calm this month.

But Evans, for his part, is only concerning himself with events at Leeds and his interest as an observer in developments elsewhere is minimal.

He said: “I never worry myself about what goes on at other clubs and the issues they have.

“But what you do know is that some clubs are able to manage and keep it in house and some clubs are not able to manage that.

“And therein lies some of the difficulty.

“Because as a head coach, sometimes you hear things about other clubs and think, ‘Well that’s not broke in the media. How have they kept that (quiet)?’

“But every club, over the season, has their own issues and that’s their own business.”