Steve Evans last night called on Massimo Cellino to front up and sack him as Leeds United head coach amid the club’s on-going approach for Darrell Clarke and a claim by Cellino that he planned to appoint “someone special” at Elland Road.
Evans finally lost patience with the speculation surrounding his job by saying it was “very obvious the time has arrived for Mr Cellino to tell me I’m not his head coach for next season.”
The comments came after Cellino gave another transparent hint that Evans’ time at United was at an end after 38 games in charge.
Speaking to the Mirror, Cellino said he had “a lot of good managers” queuing up for the head coach’s role, despite the rapid turnover of coaches under him.
Leeds moved on Monday to approach Bristol Rovers’ Clarke, the 38-year-old who led the club to promotion from League Two this season, and they are in the process of negotiating compensation with Rovers’ board.
Cellino is set to change head coach for the sixth time in just over two years as United owner, his latest response to mounting criticism of his fractious and controversial time in England.
“I have a good feeling,” Cellino said. “After all the things the fans have said
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about me, now they will start to understand. Next year we’ll play football.”
Evans, who is still employed by Leeds and has a contract to June 30, initially responded by saying: “I’m happy to step aside if the new prospective coach is one of the best around. The supporters of Leeds United, the best there are anywhere, deserve that.
“I’m confident I would lead us to promotion so I presume the remit is now to be champions.”
But the 53-year-old later issued a second statement, urging Cellino to confirm his dismissal.
He and Cellino have had virtually no contact since a lengthy meeting between them on April 29. Evans returned to work on Wednesday after a short holiday in Dubai but spoke out after meeting with his advisors. Cellino is still abroad in Italy.
Evans said: “After lots of press calls and a further meeting with my advisors it is very obvious the time has arrived for Mr Cellino to tell me I am not his head coach for next season.
“Out of respect for this great football club’s history, and to the Leeds United supporters, I’ll take that decision with good grace. This is a special club. It should have standards of excellence in everything it does.
“The task is huge next season. The Championship is stronger than the one about to conclude at Wembley (with the play-off final) on Saturday.
“In my opinion for the team to be successful next season the squad needs significantly strengthened in many key departments - this alongside ensuring our brightest young talents are secured for some years.
“Anyone not thinking that does not understand the challenge ahead. I presented these views to Mr Cellino just prior to the end of the season.
“I now need to accept that I open my mind up to other options for my career. Obviously I now need to know the direction of my career. In summary, I just need closure.”
Evans, who was appointed in October as a replacement for Uwe Rosler, led United to a 13th-placed finish in the Championship earlier this month.
Cellino, however, has given repeated indications that another change of head coach was coming and he is expected to meet Bristol Rovers’ demands of £250,000 in compensation for Clarke, opening the door to talks with Clarke in the coming days.
Earlier this month, Cellino cut a resigned figure at the end of another disappointing and fractious Championship term, claiming he was “tired” of running Leeds and would sell his shares in the club if a buyer came forward.
But the 59-year-old was in bullish mood yesterday, saying: “For the first time in England I have a lot of good managers willing to come to us at Leeds United. I cannot make a mistake this time. My players need someone special.”