STEVE EVANS has revealed that Massimo Cellino’s hands-on style of ownership at Leeds United is not for him – and says he could never work for an owner who did not let him sign his own players.
Evans’s Rotherham United side welcome Leeds in a Championship fixture for the first time in almost 10 years this evening and the Scot is grateful for the conventional working relationship he has with his own boss, Millers chairman Tony Stewart, who leaves all playing matters to Evans.
In contrast, Evans’s Leeds counterpart Darko Milanic effectively works with the players Cellino and sporting director Nicola Salerno bring to the club and has no control on transfer policy – a model used widely across the continent.
Ahead of Leeds’s last Championship match against Sheffield Wednesday, the Slovenian attempted to put the record straight regarding the influence of Cellino on the first-team by stating that he had full control over team affairs, stating tactics and formations were his decision.
For his part, Evans – who professed respect for the way the Leeds owner has ploughed millions into the club in an attempt to breathe new life into it – believes that when it comes to being the head coach, it is either Cellino’s way or the highway.
He said: “If you are a Dave Hockaday, Darko Milanic or whoever you are, if you take the job under Massimo you know the rules; he picks the players, you coach the players.
“My interest is the Millers and I pick the players, whether they come, whether they go, and our chairman supports that. The minute he doesn’t support it, I go.
“That would be the way it works here and I get fantastic support. I can’t put enough words on it.
“But if you work for Massimo Cellino, you coach the players and get the results from the players he brings in or you pay with your job, that is the way it is.”
Evans added: “It is the foreign way of doing things and it does not make it right or wrong.
“If you look at Leeds United and Massimo Cellino, where would they be if he had not have stepped in with his millions of pounds?
“I know you can say he sold a player (Ross McCormack) to Fulham for £11m.
“But he has had to put millions of investment into that football club and they do it in that way.
“I have nothing but respect for the guy. If you put the money he has put into a football club, if that is your model, you are entitled to do it.
“But there a lot of English owners, in the Championship and below – probably maybe even in the Premiership – who have a big say in the team also.”
Evans admits he and his Millers side have no real inkling how Leeds will line up tonight and has made contingencies as best he can for whatever side Milanic starts with at a sold-out New York Stadium.
He said: “As a manager when you are preparing for Leeds United, in its current state of affairs, you do not really know who you will play against.
“What we do know is we need to prepare for three or four different options. Does he play the English lads because it’s a derby or bring in the Brazilian kid (Adryan) to make his debut? There’s a whole load of connotations we will only really be aware off an hour or so before kick-off.”
Tonight’s sell-out game, screened live on Sky, is an occasion Evans has been waiting for since the Championship fixtures were announced in June with the night also a special one for former Leeds players Paul Green and Frazer Richardson.
One of the Millers’ promotion heroes, Lee Frecklington, is a boyhood Leeds fan, while another in Iceland’s Kari Arnason revealed to The Yorkshire Post yesterday that his father follows the Whites.
Evans said: “A lot of people will tune in because it’s Leeds United and it is an opportunity for our players to put themselves to a worldwide audience and show they are competent and decent Championship players.
“Frazer Richardson and Paul Green think the world of the football club, so did Luciano (Becchio). And Lee Frecklington has been a Leeds United supporter since he was in nappies.
“But when you come up against your old clubs or ones you supported, you want to win more than you might want to win any other week.”
Arnason is seeking to complement a dream week which has already seen him help Iceland to a famous Euro 2016 2-0 qualifying win over Holland in Reykjavik with a Millers win over Leeds.
Evans admits that the defender’s display in which he kept two of the most celebrated names in world football under lock and key allied to the pre-match words of Dutch boss Guus Hiddink represented a feather in the cap of both Arnason and the Millers.
Evans added: “Kari has been nothing short of stunning over the past two years.
“When you see a manager of the Dutch national side come out and speak about Kari before the game in Iceland and talk about his quality and how good a player he was, then you get a little bit of pride from that.
“(Robin) van Persie and (Arjen) Robben were in his pocket.”
Memories of last Rotherham versus Leeds clash: Page 23.