The future of Leeds United manager Steve Evans is under the spotlight on Tuesday morning after the club’s owner Massimo Cellino barred him from all media activity in the wake of Monday night’s shambolic 4-0 defeat at Brighton.
United’s under-pressure head coach failed to appear at the post-match press conference as the dust settled on the club’s heaviest defeat of the season.
Leeds caved in dramatically, conceding four goals before half-time as a ruthless Brighton side picked apart Evans’ beleaguered team.
United owner Massimo Cellino – already facing unrest among sections of the club’s support – was among the crowd on the south coast but left the ground at half-time with Leeds trailing 4-0.
He did not respond to a request for comment about Evans’ position on Monday night.
Evans himself exited the stadium and travelled home on the team bus without taking questions about the worst performance since he took charge as head coach in October.
He is understood to have been instructed not to carry out his post-match media commitments by a senior figure at the club.
Evans’ assistant Paul Raynor – who ordered United’s players to front up to an away following of 1,500 at full-time – spoke briefly with Sky Sports afterwards but did not attend the scheduled press conference.
Raynor said: “Our defending was atrocious and very disappointing and the manager is in there now dissecting it, talking to the players.
“The first half performance was absolutely shambolic and we can’t stand in front of that. It was simply not good enough.”
Evans claimed last week that he was confident Cellino would extend his contract as head coach beyond the end of this season but his position was badly weakened by United’s display against a Brighton team who are firmly in the running for automatic promotion from the Championship.
When Raynor was told that Cellino – an owner who has already sacked five first-team bosses in less than two years – had left the stadium at the end of the first half, Leeds’ number two said: “If I was him I think I would have gone as well.
“He doesn’t want to see his football club play like that and I certainly don’t blame him for that.”
Asked why Evans had failed to appear to speak to the media, Raynor said: “We know you’re going to ask the questions and we know you want some answers.
“We’re trying to give answers to the players on what we think about that first-half performance, which was simply shambolic – not good enough and certainly not good enough for Leeds United.”
Hughton praises Brighton
By contrast, Brighton manager Chris Hughton was delighted with the performance which leaves his side just two points behind leaders Burnley.
Hughton said: “There was a little bit of relief when our first goal went in; I knew we’d have opportunities.
“The margins are going our way. We now have two clean sheets but we’re not necessarily playing better.
“We can’t get too carried away – we’ve won our last two games 4-0 but before that we lost 4-1 at Cardiff so you always have to be guarded.”
Hughton went out of his way to praise a “good mix” in his team and feels that confidence within the squad is growing.
The former Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich boss added: “We have a good mix of young players in the team. A lot of the others are used to playing in big games and that helps.
“We’ve been in the top six all season and there is confidence in the team and squad, there’s no doubt about that.
“But it’s such a tough division and other teams are capable of going on a very good run.
“Before the season we wanted to challenge for the top six and our ambition is to make sure we stay there; we are pushing as hard as we can.”