Evans: I’ll need more control – I’ve bought some Sellotape

THE media had to wait nine minutes for Steve Evans. What was that compared to him waiting his entire managerial career for the opportunity to take the helm at a club of Leeds United’s stature.
New Leeds United manager Steve Evans (
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).New Leeds United manager Steve Evans (
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).
New Leeds United manager Steve Evans ( Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

This was certainly the impression the 52-year-old Scot gave on his unveiling yesterday at Elland Road.

After a managerial career that had taken him from non-League to the lower echelons of the Championship, Evans was finally on the big stage as he strode into the Bremner Suite to a battery of flashlights and camera lenses pointing his way.

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He exuded confidence on taking his seat at the top table alongside head of recruitment, Martyn Glover, as he quickly ran through the soundbites expected of all new Leeds managers.

‘Massive club’, ‘you can’t turn Leeds United down’ and ‘huge support’ were all trotted out, as was the familiar Evans trait of name-checking famous managers.

Scotland boss Craig Brown was the first to get a mention, closely followed by one of his Elland Road predecessors, Brian McDermott.

There was also a nod towards Peter Lorimer, Billy Bremner and Eddie Gray before Evans claimed: “Some of the top managers in British football have rung me or messaged me over the last 24 hours.

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“They said, ‘Don’t change, be yourself because that is what has given you the record you have got’.”

It was an Evans master class, even down to referring to himself in the third person, a trait that became such a familiar feature of his media briefings at Rotherham United.

He also turned on the charm, his response to one long-standing reporter’s comment about Evans being the 24th Leeds manager he had dealt with causing guffaws all round.

“Twenty four, you say?” quipped the Scot. “You must have only covered Leeds for three years.”

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Evans had arrived nine minutes after the scheduled 1pm start time of his introductory press conference, the delay being down to a chat with Massimo Cellino on the opposite side of the stadium.

The Italian, of course, had been the subject of the second bombshell that rocked United fans on Monday and Glover’s first act was to tell the assembled media that Cellino would be staying away from the media conference.

“We need to concentrate on the football,” was the explanation.

If only life was so simple at Elland Road, the club once again standing on the precipice of chaos courtesy of Cellino’s impending ban.

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Evans, quite rightly, made it clear his focus was solely on the football and expressed confidence that results would soon improve.

Only time will tell on that, of course, but perhaps what will be just as fascinating as how United fare on the pitch is how Evans will handle the intense spotlight that shines on every facet of Elland Road.

With all due respect to the clubs he has managed in the past, Leeds is in a whole new league in terms of profile.

The antics that made him so unpopular with opposition fans and managers in the Conference and League Two could have far bigger repercussions if repeated at a club that already resembles a soap opera.

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Evans, for his part, clearly recognises the potential dangers. “I have bought some Sellotape to go across here,” he said pointing to his mouth after being asked about coping with the increased scrutiny.

“This is a humongous club. I didn’t think an iPhone could take 840 text messages but I have now learned that it can.

“I will have to be more controlled. No one has to tell Steve Evans that’s what comes with Leeds United. Mr Cellino was very clear on that.

“I am manager of Leeds United so have a big responsibility. I need to do some things differently.”

What Leeds fans, of course, will be hoping that Evans doesn’t lose the winning habit.

For if any club needs an on-field lift right now, it is United.