LEEDS UNITED head coach Steve Evans insists it will be ‘business as usual’ against his former club Rotherham United on Saturday.
Saturday’s Elland Road showdown presents a rare double-whammy of both managers facing their most recent former clubs for the first time with Evans having spent three-and-a-half years with the Millers, who are now under the care of former Whites head coach Neil Redfearn.
But while Evans spoke glowingly about both his former club and the abilities of Redfearn, the Glaswegian admits his primary focus is on leading Leeds to a hat-trick of Championship wins that could propel the 15th-placed Whites into the top half of the table.
Asked what facing his former club meant to him, Evans admitted: “It’s massive and I would describe it almost as a loving relationship.
“I have been in love with every club I have managed and I am in love with Leeds United Football Club.
“I was in love with Rotherham, a club that will always be in my heart and I can’t say anything different. When I leave this world, some of the special times I had with those supporters with a great chairman down there and that club in general, will be with me forever more.
“That type of success, I’ve got to try and get a percentage of it at Elland Road and I know what it means to the people in the city here and I know what it means to this football club after being out of that top division since 2004.
“I know what it would mean to be even challenging remotely to get close to it.”
Evans added: “I think every game is a big game but whether it be a player or a coach, when it comes against an old club and one that was there so recently in my life then it adds a little bit extra to it.
“But you don’t get any more than three points for winning it and a point if you share the spoils.
“We have to remain focused with what happens and certainly from an opposition point of view, I know very much what’s in that dressing room in terms of playing staff.
“I know what’s there and this is a dangerous game for us after back to back to wins so we need to be fully focussed and prepared.”
Evans’ opposite number Redfearn will be preparing for the unusual feeling of sitting in the away dug out as the 50-year-old bids to finally land his first win as Millers boss in the ultimate style against his former club.
Evans said: “I haven’t spoke to Neil recently but I spoke to Neil when he called me within minutes of being appointed at Rotherham and we spoke within minutes of me being appointed at Leeds.
“Neil Redfearn is a man I have known for a long time and I don’t think I have to say publicly the respect and the liking I have for him.
“He will arrive on the team coach as a friend of mine and, win, lose or draw we will have a beer.
“One will be happy and one will be sad but he will leave a friend.
“I’ve got no doubt that over a period of time Neil Redfearn will do very well at Rotherham United.
“He represents a fantastic football club and he works for a great man.”
Yet despite the pleasantries, Evans insisted there would be no holding back on any potential celebrations with the Glaswegian vowing to be as passionate as even against his former club.
“I’m got going to change,” said Evans.
“I’m going to fight and challenge and head and kick every ball, that won’t change and I can remember taking Rotherham United down to Crawley Town and we scored a late goal with a substitute.
“I celebrated the way a manager should celebrate that day though I don’t think the pitch at Crawley has recovered yet.
“I would be hoping I would get a positive reaction from the Rotherham fans and they will certainly get an applause from me. It’s the first time I will have seen them and I will be the first to applaud but what the Rotherham United supporters do in return is of course their decision.
“I will also applaud the Leeds United fans as they are the team I will be fighting for come three o’clock.”