For Evans Sake, Leeds Utd Have the Right Man. Now Stick With Him – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds United Manager Steve Evans

Leeds United Manager Steve Evans

The unseen benefit of the scattergun, hire ’em and fire ’em recruitment approach adopted by Leeds United since the takeover of il Duce Cellino, is that at some point, unwittingly, you’re probably going to stumble haphazardly upon the right man for the job. And one of the obvious drawbacks of such an amateurish policy is that you’re all too likely then to dismiss him, either in a fit of Latin pique, or because you’ve been replaced by new owners who want their own man.

The evidence of the first few weeks of the Steve Evans era at Elland Road would seem to suggest that United have, for once in a very long while, got a square peg for their square hole. Having been lucky enough to do that, Leeds must not now, under whatever ownership, retreat back into their accustomed suicidal self-destruct mode – and dispense with a man and manager who might just be the best fit our maverick club could possibly wish or hope for.

The Steve Evans track record speaks for itself in both the best and worst of times. His human fallibility is evident from a brush with the law earlier in his career – but lessons learned from negative episodes in life can be instructive in the making of a highly effective professional. And it is this image that emerges from the Evans record of achievement at his previous clubs. It is an enviable record of unprecedented success at those clubs, by virtue of what the man himself succinctly refers to as “winning football”. He has no need or desire to elaborate on that two-word summary. He simply promises the fans just that – winning football. He knows and we know that everything good will flow from that.

The complexity and effect of the man is emerging little by little as a picture Leeds United fans have been wanting to behold for many, many years. There are echoes of the early Sergeant Wilko in the way Evans has breezed into the club with no fear on his own account, and the clear intention of doing things his way. Though not afraid himself, he appears to rule partly through fear – and partly by employing the encouraging “arm around the shoulder” approach. We hear that he can hand out rollickings to those who need it, as well as boosting those in need of a boost. It’s not rocket science – just horses-for-courses man-management, the type of thing that has produced results for the enlightened since time immemorial. The proof of the pudding, though, will be in the eating – but early indications are that certain Leeds United players, who had been under-performing, are now walking about with a new spring in their step. Long may that continue.

The danger now apparent is of yet another change; this one unwanted, unnecessary and foolish, with talk in various sections of the media that any possible new owner – a prospect widely perceived among Leeds fans as A Good Thing – could bring with him a change of manager, with Pride of Devon flop David Moyes touted as a likely contender for a job that really should be flagged up as unavailable. It may of course be that this is largely the not exactly Leeds-loving media being their usual mischievous and unhelpful selves. We can but hope.

What we have here is not yet a recovery, nor yet even a definite upward swing in the fortunes of our beloved Leeds United. The general stability of the club is far too fragile to make extravagant claims like that. But what we do seem to have are tentative green shoots emerging from what has too long been an arid desert of hopelessness. Little buds of confidence are emerging that just might flourish and bloom into full-on optimism – given the chance. Everywhere I’ve looked in the virtual world of Leeds United lately, I’ve seen surprised, almost bemused comments along the lines of “this bloke is really growing on me!” about our new manager. And one of the most noticeable things about Steve Evans is that he openly lays claim to that title. Leeds United manager – there’s a ring to it which the half-baked “head coach” thing lacks. It’s as if Evans knows he has ventured into shark-infested waters, and that he’ll have to be brave, bold and confident if he’s to succeed. He’s certainly making all the right noises, so far.

In Steve Evans – a man who swiftly acknowledged that he wouldn’t have been the first choice among Leeds fans (adding that he doubted he’d have been in the top ten) – we may just have the ideal candidate for the next holder of the Mr. Leeds United accolade. Steve Evans genuinely could be Mr. Leeds United, in a manner akin to earlier greats like Wilko, or even the as yet incomparable Don Revie. He reflects the club as those legends did – unprepossessing to outsiders, with a tendency to inspire fear and dislike among enemies. But there’s a steely determination there also, an unshakeable belief in his own ability that is likewise redolent of Leeds at its very best. That extra spring in the step of some of the young stars, those early results as they start to pick up – they’re down to that brash, ebullient presence rocking around the corridors of Elland Road and Thorp Arch. There seems little doubt of that.

I had my doubts too, at the start, though I was mainly preoccupied with being dismayed at yet another abrupt change of management. I heard of Steve Evans discussing his appointment to take over with no great enthusiasm. But first impressions are rarely all that reliable,  and I’ve never been so thrilled to have it demonstrated to me that, like thousands of others with the colours of this club running through their veins, I have good cause to believe team affairs are at last in safe hands. And, having accepted that – by hook or by crook and more by luck than good judgement – a bona fide appointment has at long last been made, I’m now in the same position as so many other fans, of being desperately concerned that – this time – we should stick with our man and see it through. See what kind of Leeds United Steve Evans can build. Hope that he will be given the time and the tools to finish the job, as he’s so successfully done elsewhere.

If, in a few weeks or months time, I’m writing another blog in bitter frustration and helpless anger, bemoaning yet more self-harming short-termism on the part of this crazy club – if, in short, Leeds United have lost their nerve yet again, and prematurely sacked yet another manager – then it’ll be with a sense of baffled despair about our club’s chances of ever making it back to the level of the game where they assuredly belong. It’s for Leeds now to stick with their man, back him through whatever high-level changes may be in the offing and try to ensure that, on the playing side of things at least, there is some stability and confidence. Those two advantages will come only with the security of a man in charge being given ample opportunity to do his job and earn success. For all our sakes, let this come to pass.

And if not – why then, the fans of this club will know for sure that they are the only stable and worthwhile thing about the place. They’ll know that the club can’t be trusted or relied upon to do anything but periodically make of itself a laughing stock before lesser clubs and lesser fans. It would be the only conclusion we could possibly draw – who could really blame us? The powers that be at Leeds United (whoever they might be on any given day) had better take warning; our faith in the direction of the club can only take so many hits before it crumbles into pieces. So don’t screw this up, guys.

Steve Evans has made it clear that he regards himself as privileged to be the Leeds United manager. He’s made it clear that he regards the fans as an asset unmatched elsewhere (If we played a five-a-side in Asia at three in the morning, they’d be there). Evans “gets” Leeds. He can see what the club – and the fans – are all about. You have the impression that he can sense a kinship – that he feels at home and wants beyond anything else to restore Leeds United to greater days. This blogger could listen to him talk about Leeds all day long – it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

You just can’t put a price on that feeling, and – for the first time in such a long time – I and many others believe we might just have a real Leeds United manager on our hands. Someone who appeared as a match summariser on Sky Sports Saturday earlier today, and made a point of giving the Leeds salute when on camera. I could barely believe my eyes. Now, that’s a real candidate for the next Mr. Leeds United.

So, for Evans’ sake – and for the sake of all of us and our turbulent love affair with football’s craziest club – let’s please see it through this time and go marching on together, back towards the top, behind a man who – given an even chance – just might make it all happen for us once again.

29 responses to “For Evans Sake, Leeds Utd Have the Right Man. Now Stick With Him – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Pingback: For Evans Sake, Leeds Utd Have the Right Man. Now Stick With Him – by Rob Atkinson | Sports Droid

  2. mrbigwheels

    I’ll give you credit…. That’s the spot on message that needs shouting out repeatedly. Thank you…


  3. great article agree with everything you say


  4. Trevor wylie

    That my friend is ur best post ever.
    Uve hit every nail on the head.


  5. Totally agree with this article, I think he could be the real deal for Leeds and get us going again and give us the confidence to move forward as one. Read his comments and seen the interviews he is what you get and there seems to be no light and dark with him but truth and honesty . MOT with Mr Evans





  7. Deeda LUFC

    Let’s just hope he got permission to do the Soccer Saturday gig today. In writing, in triplicate, signed by Il Duce himself. Or he could be getting sacked in the morning for what would be considered on Planet Massimo as an outrageous act of subordination and disrespect.


  8. Like most other people (if they’re honest) I wasn’t that keen the day I heard Steve was appointed manager. But I have to say, nearly every day since he’s said a lot of things we all think (well I do anyway) and proved my initial reaction to be wrong. He ‘gets’ the club and seems to have a character that just seems to fit with us. He’s actually proud to be manager of Leeds United which is great to see. We’re going to have bad results at times.. because in reality we’re just not that good yet, and there’s a limit to what any manager can do – as it’s the players at the end of the day that win or lose you games. We definitely need to stick with him and give him a proper chance as I too think he’ll do well for us. MOT


  9. premiumtwersk

    I have to say this… But all of our previous managers…at least in the last couple of years…have all been privileged and honored to be associated with us… and understood our fan base and also what it means to be manager of Leeds United… and look where that got them!


  10. well said Rob,you expressed how I feel about Evens also. Excellent Article. could not fault any word


  11. Nice to see you back Rob. Your evil twin recently hijacked your blog and told the Leeds fans to stay away from ER amongst other such blasphemous suggestions ! I think this guy Evans could be the answer as well, and my optimism is furthered by a real belief that Cellino is genuinely intent on selling. Not because he is sulking over the negative chants from the crowd (as he purports) but because he realises these bans are not going to stop and he can’t be bothered going through them over and over again with more to come. Some long awaited light at the end of the tunnel I believe.


  12. Excellent,Rob! cannot fault one word.Brilliantly said. I tried to post earlier,not sure it was sent,if so,Delete the others..


  13. He comes across as a genuine football man in the same mold as a number of Scottish managers who found success south of the border. And he just talks sense. No BS, just sense.

    Small point which might be large….. Managers have come in and tried to impose their favoured system on the squad. Moderate to no success followed. Seems like Evans came in, looked at the squad and came up with a system to suit them. Results first, system second.

    Don’t think there are many managers out there that could go from zero to hero in the course of a few weeks. Evans above the rest.

    p.s. Can’t wait to see how we do when we have Taylor back controlling the left flank.


  14. dave sales

    Lets see what happens when we face decent teams. I am not yet confident in him or our players to be honest. Of course he is going to be ‘enthusiastic’ about our club. He hasn’t been given a 3 year contract and didn’t have other clubs banging on his door to offer him one either.


    • The Wendies were after him not so long back, when he was doing well at Rotherham – and he’d hardly been gone from there five minutes before we came calling. You might almost think the situation had been contrived…


  15. I think the man is a breath of fresh air; he has (it seems) “managed” to get his very obvious enthusiasm across to the players and got them believing in themselves and their ability. This was something that Rossler could not do. I am not Rossler bashing but I feel the difference between Him and Evans is that Rossler (understandably) was afraid for his job and sent his teams out accordingly; not to lose and with their heads crammed full of negative tactics. Evans, on the other hand, sends them out to win. Long may it continue


  16. Ropey Wyla

    Couldn’t stand the sight of Steve Evans before he joined us, can’t honestly say he isn’t unsightly but he is clearly the man for the job. The fact he robbed the tax man makes me like him even more and whilst not all would agree with that I take it as a favourable measure of the man’s character, i.e. he’s not frightened of authority and quite willing to pull it’s pants down.


  17. David Dean

    Entirely agree with you and all the comments. However 3 defeats before January and he will be a goner. Until we are under new ownership it will never change. I would give him a three year contract at the end of the season and keep him for three years even if we were relegated within that period – that is how much I like him. But I felt the same about Redders and McDermott and Rosler. I believe all these guys given time and support would be good enough to get us challenging for the playoffs most seasons (Larry included) – they are good quality football managers, maybe not the top level yet – you need luck and good backing to get there unless you are the creme de la creme.


  18. Steve Trebert

    steve Evans

    Very much in the dare I say it Ferguson mode! Perhaps with a touch more humor.
    Great post Rob. Good to see you back on form too.

    Best wishes

    Steve Trebert


  19. Working in Rotherham I was obviously surrounded by millers fans , I never really liked Steve Evans , in fact I thought him a gob shite , then last week I went to Huddersfield , can it could have been that we had such a good day that my judgement was clouded but at the end all the Leeds fans waited for him to come over , it was a low rumble that gradually got louder the closer he came till he eventually came to where we were all sat and he punched the air and all the Leeds fans cheered , he did this 3 times, once for every goal and then had a bit more banter with the lads ,, it was good to see rob and I really warmed to the fella


  20. gerry watson

    best thing to come to the club for a long time ,just a football man ,does not care about the way he looks ,just tells it as it is ,we must give him a chance no matter if we have a few bad results,the team is not the finished article by a long way but given chance and a few signings that he wants there will be progress we now need a period of calm to let the manager and his coaches get on with the job ,hope if celino sells club we get somebody who can see the value of evans,oh bye the way very good article.


  21. we now have a manager that tells us how it is and he demands 100% from his players that is what a manager is suppose to do and like you have said Rob i think we have our man at last he might look like a taxi driver but he might just think like the great Don himself …………… here is hoping so MOT

    Steve from Western Australia


  22. Nothing more to say. Job done.
    Bring it on. MOT


  23. I’d welcome Parkin as majority owner and Moyes was very good at the Toffees and not given time by Man U. BUT! Evans should be given a chance, he talks the talk and so far is walking the walk, to get rid now might just be the biggest mistake since NOT giving Johnny Giles the job.
    MOT and another great blog Rob.


  24. Excellent article Rob. I know it is early days but this guy does seem to have the right tone of taking no BS and seems to have a reasonable record of results. We have to accept are where we are now in terms of managers, I just hope the legal people keep Il Duce busy so he does not get trigger happy again after a brief period.
    If the last couple of games are an indication of SE worth then there just might be a chance that there is light because as you quite rightly say, “our faith in the direction of the club can only take so many hits before it crumbles into pieces.”
    I’d be quite willing to fund a budget for couple of extra pies.


  25. Pingback: If Moyes Really IS Discussing Leeds Job, LMA Should Intervene  –   by Rob Atkinson | Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

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