LEEDS UNITED head coach Steve Evans says he expects to sign a new contract and secure the job for next season as soon as the club are mathematically safe from relegation.
Evans moved to clarify his future today by revealing that he and owner Massimo Cellino had agreed to activate an option extending his deal for a further 12 months once United confirm their Championship status.
Leeds are comfortably clear of the division’s bottom three, 12 points ahead of 22nd-placed Rotherham United, but they are 17th in the table after one win from 10 games.
Evans took charge of the squad in October following the sacking of Uwe Rosler and he agreed an initial contract to the end of this season with the option of remaining in charge for the 2016-17 campaign.
Cellino has made no comment on Evans’ future but the former Rotherham United boss - the sixth head coach employed during Cellino’s 22-month reign as majority shareholder - said the Italian had assured him of his backing during the January transfer window.
Evans said: “I don’t think there’ll be an announcement tomorrow. I think we have to make sure I deliver the remit that I came in with first. We have to be mathematically safe in the Championship. When that’s done I’ll sit down with the president and we’ll agree where we go.
“It’s only fair but I know what the president has said - the minute we’re mathematically safe, we can get it done. That’s when we’ll talk about the squad and the investment. I can only repeat what I’ve said before - everything he’s said to me up until now has been 100 per cent true. I’m quite happy to address this when I deliver the remit I had when I walked in.”
Leeds have 14 league matches remaining and are out of the running for the play-offs after a mixed run of form since Christmas. A fifth-round defeat at Watford last weekend ended their involvement in the FA Cup and turned the club’s attention to the summer.
Cellino has a history of changing head coach regularly, both at Elland Road and at Italian club Cagliari, and Rosler - an appointment made at the end of last season - survived for just 12 games before Cellino dismissed him and moved to recruit Evans.
Asked if he expected to be head coach next season, Evans said: “One hundred per cent. He (Cellino) has told me that. He told me that in January. He had an appreciation of the squad we inherited and what we were working with. He asked me to make any immediate additions to make sure we weren’t involved at the bottom end. We did that, primarily with Liam Bridcutt.
“What we have to make sure now that we get our recruitment right because that’s what dictates if you have a promotion campaign or another mediocre campaign. This club cannot have another mediocre campaign.”
United announced encouraging financial results this week, revealing that losses of almost £23m in the 2013-14 financial year fell to £2m in 2014-15, Cellino’s first full 12-month spell as owner.
Cellino, who came in for criticism due to United’s limited dealings in the January transfer window, said the improved position would allow Leeds to “finally begin to focus and invest the club’s income into improving the quality of the playing squad and performances on the pitch.”
Evans said he was not concerned that results before May might weaken Cellino’s confidence in him, saying: “I need to do that (pick up results) for myself, not with the thoughts of Mr Cellino in the background. What I do know is he’s seen enough things with what we do. You also have to consider the tools we’re working with.
“I have every confidence that with his support, on and off the pitch, I’ll put a squad in place which delivers what I say I will.”