SUGGESTIONS that Leeds United head into today’s all-Yorkshire affair with visiting Hull City as underdogs is something that does not sit well upon the shoulders of Steve Evans.
Granted, the Whites head coach remains mightily impressed at the renaissance work being undertaken by his Tigers counterpart Steve Bruce out east – more especially in the wake of a morale-sapping relegation from the Premier League in May.
Bruce’s sterling work is such that Hull have seen their colours lowered just once in their past 11 league matches – with that reverse coming last time out in a 2-0 home loss to promotion rivals Derby County.
That results, allied to weekend developments elsewhere at the business end of the Championship, ensure that Hull head to Elland Road in fourth spot in the table after going top after their 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough just before the international break.
But while Evans is conscious of the quality of Hull – who have not been beaten on the road in the league since a 1-0 reverse at Brighton on September 12 – neither is he cowed.
On the challenge that lies ahead for Leeds, who have won just once at home this term, Evans added: “I don’t see ourselves us as underdogs.
“I see us as very respectful of the opposition and very respectful of the job that Steve Bruce has done.
“I think a lot of people were questioning what was in Steve when he was unsure over whether he was going to take the job (on) in the summer.
“But I always thought he would and I always thought if he could get get the crux of that group together and add one or two selectively to it, they would have a good side. They have got that. Steve took Hull City to the Premier League and the resources that come from the likes of the Sky television deal et cetera give you huge resources to sign some very good players – and back in the summer first and foremost from a distance we were all looking to see if Steve stayed at Hull and he did.
“And I think he did with a bit of a plan and a bit of a backing by the board.
“I know two or three players left the football club, but there’s some fantastic players at Hull City there and they have recruited some good players as well.
“This is a top quality side and at League Managers Meetings recently (it was said) this is one that everybody expects to return to the Barclays Premier League. We need to be one of the teams that tries and hinders that progress.
“We are in the process of trying to build something here, but when we are building, we still need to be winning football matches on a regular basis.”
This afternoon’s game sees former Whites captain Robert Snodgrass make his first playing return to Leeds following his transfer to Norwich for £3m in July 2012.
The Scottish international winger had finally reached the end of a long and arduous road back to fitness after almost 16 months out after dislocating his kneecap for the Tigers on the opening day of the 2013-14 Premier League campaign.
Snodgrass, 28, made his long-awaited return with a late cameo from the bench in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup exit at Manchester City and has declared himself ready to feature at his old stomping ground – if called upon by Bruce. Evans is sure that his fellow Glaswegian – who joined Hull for £7m from Norwich in the summer of 2014 – will receive warm applause from home supporters upon his return.
But is equally eager to ensure that his return to Leeds is in losing cause.
Evans added: “I think he (Snodgrass) will get welcomed and the Leeds United supporters in general tend to do that. I think they give a warm reception and then they want to beat them.
“But it’s not just about Robert Snodgrass and I think I could name what I think Steve Bruce’s team will be here back to front.
“He comes with a wealth of talent on his team coach and Steve, for the right reasons, will be confident of coming to Elland Road and getting a positive result. We’ve got to make sure that we arrive at Elland Road and do the same to get a good result.”