Steve Evans plays down impact of Leeds fans' protest

18 February 2016 05:23

Leeds head coach Steve Evans insists a protest campaign against owner Massimo Cellino is having no effect on his players.

Anti-Cellino group 'Time To Go Massimo' stepped up its campaign to force the Italian to sell his majority stake in the club in midweek by beaming protest images on to Elland Road stadium before and during the goalless home draw against Middlesbrough.

But Evans, determined to distance himself from any off-field controversy since replacing Uwe Rosler last October, said he was focused solely on Saturday's FA Cup clash at Barclays Premier League side Watford as Leeds bid to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in 13 years.

"Supporters are always going to be supporters, good and bad, they're there for life aren't they?" said the former Crawley and Rotherham manager.

"I don't get involved in what happens above me. All I know is this club was in a perilous state before Mr Cellino stepped in. I think that's a given.

"I think if we'd have been within five or six points of the play-offs at the end of January we'd have gone and made two or three positive signings.

"I don't know what the fans have to say and what they don't have to say because really as head coach you have to distance yourself from that and concentrate on what happens on the grass.

"That's what I've been doing and it's what I'll continue to do. I'll never get involved internally in anything other than Thorp Arch, the team and the players."

When asked if the protests had affected his players, Evans said: "If players start telling you it's affecting them they're probably not playing well and they're looking for reasons.

"I think players and staff have a job to do. We mustn't forget our job. The president and (executive director) Paul Bell have completely different remits to me.

"I'm employed by them to keep players focused on getting into the team and being successful in the team.

"If we're all being honest, mid-table in the Championship for Leeds United is failure. It's failure for the coaches, not anyone else."

Evans, who guided Crawley to the FA Cup fifth round in successive seasons in 2011 and 2012, sees Saturday's trip to Vicarage Road as a chance for Leeds to address the club's poor showing in the competition over the last three decades.

Leeds have reached the last eight of the FA Cup just three times in the last 28 years.

"The quarter-finals is a real prize for us," Evans said.

"I've always said give us anyone at Elland Road and the way we played on Monday night (in the goalless draw with Middlesbrough) and the way this team can play, then we have a real opportunity to get through to those quarter-finals.

"But first and foremost, we can't speak about that because we play, and I 100 per cent believe this, one of the best teams still in the competition."

Source: PA