STEVE EVANS last night insisted there will be no interference in team selection at Leeds United during his reign, adding: “The day I don’t pick the team, I won’t be manager.”
The former Rotherham United chief will take charge of the Elland Road club for the first time tonight at Fulham.
Evans is the fifth appointment by Massimo Cellino inside 16 months and the tenure of his predecessors in the job have been surrounded by terrace rumours that the United president influences team selection.
However, when asked who would have the final say during his time at the helm, Evans said: “The simplest way I can answer is to say that the day I don’t pick the team, I won’t be manager of Leeds United.
“I have to pick the team. When I met Mr Cellino, that was never in doubt. I would be silly not to listen to his experience or not to listen to the existing coaching staff. But I will have the first say in terms of positional changes and the last say.”
Tonight’s trip to Craven Cottage continues a whirlwind few days for the Yorkshire club, who disposed of Uwe Rosler on Sunday after three straight defeats.
Evans was offered the job later that day after a meeting with Cellino that was supposed to last for two hours but, according to the Scot, “went on for nine as we talked football”.
The new manager met the squad for the first time ahead of training on Monday, and then the bombshell news came through a few hours later that Cellino had been banned by the Football League.
Asked about the Italian’s impending suspension, Evans said: “I have just caught up with the President but I didn’t really get into it. If Mr Cellino is here, he is my direct boss.
“On a day-to-day basis, I deal with Martyn (Glover, head of recruitment). But I have not discussed it so I have got no answers for you. I am here to concentrate on what happens on the grass.”
United’s trio of recent defeats has led to concerns that the club could be heading for a relegation scrap. Evans, however, refuses to entertain such talk.
“We won’t be in (relegation) trouble,” he said. “I am basing that on what I know about the squad. We have had some good performances this season but they have been sporadic. To be sitting where we are after 11 games at Leeds United is not acceptable.”
On the style of football that supporters can expect, Evans added: “We will certainly have a go. I realise that is easy to say but, when we can, we will try to win matches. You can sleep if your team has had a go. You can’t, if they don’t.”
As for bucking the trend of Leeds managers swiftly dispatched by Cellino, Evans said: “Every coach or manager of Leeds knows the ramifications – if you don’t win matches, you know what comes.
“My job is to believe in myself and that if I win matches then enough people, including Mr Cellino, will want me here.”
Liam Cooper could feature against Fulham after training yesterday but Charlie Taylor is likely to be out for two or three weeks due to a problem with his spleen.
n Massimo Cellino has backed down in the row over away allocations and ended Leeds United’s restriction on tickets after talks with supporters group Leeds Fans United.
The club announced last night that Cellino’s decision to limit United’s away allocations to 2,000 tickets would be reversed immediately following intense criticism of his move to slash ticket numbers last week.
Last six games: Fulham LLWLDD, Leeds United DLWLLL.
Last time: Fulham 0 Leeds United 3; March 17, 2015; Championship.
Referee: K Hill (Hertfordshire).
Evans’s masterclass: Page 23.