STEVE EVANS has asked Leeds United fans to suspend judgement on him until after a summer recruitment drive he believes will make the Elland Road club serious contenders for promotion to the Premier League.
United’s season all but petered out for good with Saturday’s 1-0 loss in the FA Cup fifth round at Watford, with 17th-placed Leeds 11 points clear of the dropzone, but 16 points off the play-offs ahead of Tuesday night’s home game against Fulham.
But Evans has asked the club’s fans to question where Leeds would be without the three players the Glaswegian recruited in the January transfer window in Toumani Diagouraga, Liam Bridcutt and Mustapha Carayol, Bridcutt having initially arrived on loan in November.
Evans had also hoped to bring in further attacking recruits to a side who have now not scored in five hours and 21 minutes of football.
United have scored just 12 goals in 16 games at Elland Road this season, the second-worst home goalscoring record in the Football League with only League Two’s basement club Dagenham & Redbridge faring worst.
Evans says he has been hit hard by the continued injury woes experienced by main striker Chris Wood, and is nonetheless sure United are in a better state now than when Uwe Rosler was sacked in October.
“The one thing that I don’t forget is that when I first accepted the job at Leeds United, I had one remit from the owner - to stay up,” said Evans.
“Because everyone, including a lot of Leeds United supporters who I have known for years, thought they were going down.
“This is a question for the Leeds fans, of which I am one - but without Digaouraga, without Bridcutt and without Carayol coming in, do they think we would be a in a relegation fight come the end of the season?
“I have only brought three players in and have they improved us? The answer is by some distance.
“The Leeds United supporters are phenomenal and they deserve halos, every one of them.
“Do they think Diagouraga makes us better? Do they think Bridcutt has made us better? And do they like Carayol? I would say they are three of our better players and that’s the standard of player that I am going to be getting in over the summer and making us a real promotion contender.”
Evans said that if he failed to put together a side capable of mounting a genuine promotion bid next season, he wouldn’t stick around to be sacked by owner Massimo Cellino, adamant he would prefer to fall on his own sword.
“If I don’t build a promotion team, and I’m talking top six here, then I won’t be at Leeds and I’ll do that myself,” he added.
“I won’t need Mr Cellino to sack me. I’ve got too much pride. So back me and I’ll take you into a promotion place, that’s my belief.
“I think there will be investment by the owner when we go forward into the summer and I can’t tell what the Leeds United supporters what to do, I am very humbled to work at Leeds United.
“But I’m saying, if I get supported, I will put on the pitch a squad of men that will challenge for the Premier League.
“If I fail that, I will drive out of Thorp Arch and I will be broken hearted and I will admit failure.”