Danny Hall: Steve Evans at Leeds could be the most entertaining chapter yet of Cellino’s Elland Road reign

Leeds United head coach Steve Evans
Leeds United head coach Steve Evans
  • Steve Evans became Massimo Cellino’s sixth Leeds manager in 18 months on Monday
  • Former Millers boss succeeds Uwe Rosler, who was sacked after seven games
  • Evans enjoyed relative autonomy at the Millers; a stark contrast to structure at Leeds
  • Cellino was banned by Football League on same day; plunging the once-great club into yet more crisis
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The Bangles were formed in LA, rather than Leeds and probably didn’t have Elland Road in mind when they wrote one of their biggest hits.

But Manic Monday sums up events just along the M1 pretty well earlier this week; Uwe Rosler removed, Steve Evans the successor, Massimo Cellino censured and then banned by the Football League. Again.

Seismic shifts in the landscape are fast becoming the norm in this part of the world, yet this one seemed more catastrophic than most.

Rosler, after all, lasted just seven months and 12 games, at a club seemingly keen to hold its own ‘Manager of the Month’ contest. Former Millers boss Evans, who has signed a rolling contract until June with the option - don’t laugh - of a further year, would probably count himself lucky to have as long.

His first press conference as Leeds boss was typically bullish; ‘I pick the team, and I have the final say on players’ seemed to be the theme, although the fact he was flanked by Leeds head of recruitment Martyn Glover was perhaps telling.

So, almost a year to the day since he intimated he could never work for Cellino, here Evans was, doing exactly that.

Admittedly, not for long; just hours after his official appointment, Cellino was suspended - for the second time - by the Football League. He plans to appeal his sentence; ensuring one of English football’s longest-running, and most tragic soap operas will have a good few twists and turns yet.

Would Leeds fans miss him? Cellino proved a popular figure when he bought the club from previous owners GFH - although since Leeds would have probably gone bankrupt without his intervention, it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between genuine love and relief. At least Cellino, in the eyes of some supporters, was the devil they knew.

In the days, weeks and months since, the stories of Cellino could fill these pages themselves; axing former Blades goalkeeper Paddy Kenny because his birthday was considered to be unlucky, and venting his spleen at an unknwown supporter who’d called him and uploaded the conversation on the internet - ‘The team is sh*t’ a particular highlight.

Cellino, in his time at Cagliari, moved their home games 500 miles away to Trieste, on the border of Slovenia. He’d also sacked 35 managers in 21 years in Italy, and has somehow become more trigger-happy at Leeds; going through five in 18 months.

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino

He hired David Hockaday, who had left Forest Green Rovers after seven defeats in eight games, and sacked him after 70 days, and six games. Hockaday resurfaced at Swindon Supermarine and is now in charge of Kidderminster.

Cellino decided he wanted a Continental boss next, so went for Darko Milanič. Asked at the press conference why he’d hired the Slovenian, who’d bought himself out of his contract at Sturm Graz, Cellino said he didn’t know.

“He’s good looking, what do you want me to say?” Cellino said.

“Coaches are like watermelons. You find out about them when you open them.”

Cellino hired David Hockaday, who left Forest Green Rovers after seven defeats in eight games, and sacked him after six games. Darko Milanič succeeded him; Cellino admitted he doesn’t know why he hired the Slovenian

Cellino didn’t reckon much to Milanič’s insides, and sacked him after six games, too. What did he make of Evans, then? “I used to hate him,” was the promising, understated reply.

Evans, so used to relative autonomy under the ever-pleasant Tony Stewart at the New York Stadium, is jumping right into the fire with Cellino - or whoever is appointed in his place.

Two promotions and a Championship survival campaign with Rotherham shines on any CV, but Evans’ demeanour wins him few friends in the game. He tried to instil a them-against-us mentality at the Millers, a club admired by many and disliked by few. In some ways, he’s a perfect fit for a club crying out for an identity again.

As much as folk in this region will hate to admit it, Leeds is a big deal in this country; a one-club city bigger than Sheffield, with a catchment area of roughly three million people. Quite why they have to rely on the millions of a madcap Italian with convictions for dishonesty and tax evasion is a mystery in itself, but no doubt Evans will embrace the challenge.

He’ll be out before long, bemoaning officials and insisting the Football League, Fifa and the United Nations, probably, are all against Leeds United. Whether he believes it himself is doubtful, but Evans did things his way. Ask players like Daniel Nardiello and Joe Skarz, fans’ favourites shown the exit door at Rotherham. Once you’ve served your purpose, that’s the end. Sound familiar? Again, maybe Evans and Cellino are a better fit than we ever thought?

After being approached to take the Leeds job, Evans admits he endured a sleepless night. It’s unlikely to be his last in the weeks and months ahead.

Rotherham Manager Steve Evans arrives at Elland Road in beach attire before the match.

Rotherham Manager Steve Evans arrives at Elland Road in beach attire before the match.

There will be tension; Evans, who signed an average of a player every two games at Rotherham, no longer has carte blanche on incomings. From the outside, he seems to have gone from the star of the show to just a cog in the wheel; will he cope with that? No-one knows the answer. But, as always at Leeds United, it should make fascinating viewing.