Uncertain end to season again for Leeds United
So Leeds United's season ended as it did last year with confusion surrounding the future of the head coach and the club no nearer to looking like mounting a promotion challenge.
In the end the Whites finished 13th in the Sky Bet Championship, two places up on last year, and the final game summed up their campaign as they took the lead through Chris Wood’s penalty only to concede an injury-time equaliser to draw 1-1 at Preston.
After stumbling around for much of the first two thirds of the season United did finally begin to look like a decent side in the closing weeks, but that good work is now in danger of being for nothing as they could be forced back to square one with owner Massimo Cellino expected to change head coach again.
Steve Evans had been expecting a decision on his future last week, but like Neil Redfearn this time last year he has been left in limbo as the season has come to an end and he now fears the worst that he will not be retained.
With no news coming from the owner – aside from a quote to a national newspaper in which he said he was in no rush and would consider the head coach position at a meeting on Wednesday, May 18 – Evans cannot be confident of keeping his job, but despite being messed about he still desperately wants to be in charge of the Leeds team next season and he definitely has the majority of fans’ backing.
Other teams are seemingly interested in taking Evans, particularly Peterborough, but he said he would not talk to any other club until hearing from Cellino.
At the end of Saturday’s game at Preston Evans was an emotional figure on the pitch as he saluted Leeds fans for what could be the last time.
He faced the press in the after match conference when his message was clear.
He said: “I hope it’s not the end, I really hope it’s not. But if the decision is made for the benefit of the football club then I will endorse it.
“If they’ve got Mourinho parked in the corner then I’d be the first to applaud him onto the pitch.
“I’m going to go home and wait to see what the president decides. There’s been lots of meetings. I hope being a bit pessimistic is wrong but sometimes your head has to rule your heart.”
Evans is under contract until the end of June and has been in charge for 38 games. If he goes he will be the sixth managerial departure since Cellino took over at Elland Road in 2014.
United defender Scott Wootton, meanwhile, looks set to leave Elland Road this summer after it emerged that a contract extension handed to him last year was never finalised.
Wootton will be released on a free transfer when Leeds publish their retained list due to a bizarre scenario which left a 12-month extension to his existing deal incomplete.
The former Manchester United centre-back, who took up a three-year contract with Leeds when he moved from Old Trafford in 2013, signed an agreement in February 2015 which would have tied him down until the end of next season. The extension – negotiated at a time when owner Massimo Cellino was serving a Football League ban and Andrew Umbers was running the club as chairman – was formally announced on United’s official website but the club’s failure to complete the necessary paperwork will see them move the 24-year-old on before the start of next season.