It’s finally happened. After years of glancing across at each other in the nightclub, Peterborough United and Steve Evans are finally an item. It’s fair to say that the appointment has divided opinion, with some impressed with Evans’s no nonsense attitude, and others concerned with his chequered past. In that spirit, two Dot Netters will offer their somewhat opposing viewpoints. McPosh will give the case for the defence, and jwb1997 will give the case for the prosecution.
Don’t forget that you can have your own say in the forum.
The Case For Steve Evans
So, we’ve finally got Steve Evans as manager. It was always a case of when rather than if, and maybe now isn’t such a bad time for this to happen.
There are lots of things that make me feel uncomfortable about Evans. Some of his antics on the side of the pitch are cringeworthy, and his past ‘misdemeanours’ mean that I will have to hold my nose during the Evan’s reign.
But, he’s got a decent track record at this level and frankly the football can’t be any less enjoyable than it has been for the last 4 years. During that period, we’ve seen loads of dross, with just the rare foray into good and enjoyable football. Darragh has tried the rookie appointment (McCann) and the experienced journeyman (Westley) and neither has ended well. Time for something different.
Evan’s Rotherham team played good football. He has managed to get similar size clubs into the championship. He has admitted that he needs to improve his track record with younger players and it is good to see that he is willing to acknowledge where he could improve as a manager.
He certainly understands the importance of a work ethic and some of our current players may finally understand the need to turn it on all of the time. If they don’t, I am sure they will soon be shown the door and that will be no bad thing.
I’m under no illusions. Posh are a third division club, and any forays into a higher league are always likely to be temporary. But I want to enjoy going to London Road. I want to stand on the terrace with a reasonable expectation that I will be entertained.
I believe Evans will deliver this. He wants to manage Posh and he is starting with a gifted set of players but no team. Can he get the best out of them? Who knows. Any managerial appointment is a gamble and this is a big one. But, I support the team, not the manager. It’s going to be fun and I for one am looking forward to it.
Up the Posh!
The Case Against Steve Evans
*Siiiiiiiiiiiiiggggggh* I’d only just pressed send on my analysis of Grant McCann’s departure when news started to come out of Nottinghamshire that Steve Evans and his assistant manager Paul Raynor had tendered their resignations at League 2 high-flyers Mansfield Town. We didn’t need Rachel Riley here to help us put two and two together; Evans had done this to pave the way for a move to Peterborough United, a job he’d been courting for well over a decade. Evans has finally got his way, but in my opinion, this is a terrible, terrible move for Posh.
To an outsider looking in, this looks like a dream appointment. Not only has Evans got 5 promotions on his CV, he lives just down the A47 in Wansford and even claims to be a Posh fan. (It’s not important, but let’s just bust that myth: Evans was born and bred in Glasgow, and barring a short spell at Bolton, spent his entire playing career north of the border. I’m by no means an expert on 60’s/70’s Scottish sporting pop culture, but I find it quite unlikely that many youngsters from that area chose to support a shit 4th division club who are based 300 miles away). But his modus operandi is entirely unsuitable to a club with the rigid structure that Posh have in place. Let’s take a closer look at how Evans goes about his business…
Signings! Signings! More signings!! The turnover of players Evans has had in his career is nothing short of incredible. 75 were signed by Evans in little over 3 years at Rotherham (that’s one new player every 2 weeks on average) and those are similar numbers to those (that I can’t be bothered to work out) at Crawley Town, Boston United and Mansfield Town. And they weren’t any old signings he made for the Millers; the likes of Paul Green, Claude Davis, Daniel Nardiello, Alex Revell and Leon Best are as ‘young and hungry’ as a busload of pensioners leaving an all you can eat buffet. That policy has been a part of the club’s DNA under Darragh MacAnthony, where there has been an emphasis on signing players with room to improve and a good potential resale value. Steve Evans has absolutely no track record of improving (young) players already at his club. That is surely a massive part of being a Posh manager, is it not? There are three possible scenarios here:
- MacAnthony lets Evans go about business the way he wants to, using up club funds that aren’t plentiful, to say the least. Given that no manager has got the better of Darragh in 12 years, I see no reason why Evans will be different. This is very unlikely.
- Evans adapts to Darragh’s philosophy of running a club. If this happens, I see little point in appointing Evans. He is totally unproven in any method of management that isn’t signing anything with a pulse.
- Neither of them can agree on a way forward. Everything goes tits up. We look for another new manager inside a year. This is a very likely outcome.
There are other elements to Evans’ appointment that make me feel slightly uneasy. He is an aggressive, vociferous individual who appears to be a borderline bully. I dug out a tweet I sent 4 years ago when Evans led his Rotherham side to victory at London Road. 16 year old me said I’d be embarrassed if Evans was my manager. Spitting venom at any human being in the vicinity is commonplace for Steve. He attempts to intimidate referees with thick Glaswegian bellows from the dug-out, choosing to focus on the 3 man team in black rather than his own men. Mark Halsey, a former Premier League referee who has had various encounters with Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson, Sam Allardyce et al, says that Evans is the only manager he has encountered who he can look at with no fondness, and says ‘Evans is a loudmouthed, nasty piece of work who brings no credit to professional football’. I cannot sit back and condone Evans’ actions (which have led to countless fines and bans) and I can assure everyone reading this that I will be embarrassed when the inevitable first tirade comes in our next home game against Charlton.
It’s not just referees Evans can be abrasive with. His own players have experienced it too. Ben Smith, a journeyman midfielder who played under Evans at Crawley writes “We lost 4-1 at Gateshead and Steve marched into the dressing room and started going mental at anyone and everyone who caught his eye. He then went straight for me: ‘What are you smirking at? Come into my office and sign your release forms. You will never play in my team again’. As I entered the room, Evo was still fuming and re-iterated what he had been screaming in the dressing room, telling me I would definitely never play for him again and had to sign my release forms. I asked what pay-off I would be getting and he replied I wouldn’t get one. ‘In that case,’ I said, ‘I will not be signing anything.” Smith then goes on to describe how Evans and Rayner-a duo he described as Laurel and Hardy-had an approach that was far too simplistic. A loss on a Saturday meant Sunday training. During those training sessions, nothing constructive happened. They just had to run around. No analysis, no comments on performance. Just punishment. I’ve spoken to a former Boston player who was briefly managed by Evans, who described how his old boss frequently let rip with his own players and how he was nearly left at a distant away ground by the manager before the Scot finally saw sense. Dave Farrell doesn’t appear to be a fan either (see below). I’ll admit that the group of players Evans is inheriting at Posh needs a bit of tough love, but this is a rather extreme measure. Steve won’t be bringing a gun to a knife fight; he has 8 nuclear warheads and some spores of anthrax in his locker. A leopard doesn’t change it’s spots, and if actions such as the ones I’ve described carry on, it’s easy to see a dressing room becoming toxic with him in charge.
And now, the elephant in the room (not Evans himself). Steve is a crook. A fraudster. A cheat. And it isn’t libellous to say so. Evans was found guilty of disguising Boston players’ bonuses as expenses which resulted in a one year suspended jail sentence, £1000 fine and incredibly, only a 20 month ban from football. This was the year they were promoted out of the conference. He cheated Boston into the league. The moral compass of a football fan is a curious thing, but I would like to think that not only employing, but actively supporting and encouraging Evans is beyond most. I appreciate that both Grant McCann and Darren Ferguson hold criminal records and have held the managerial post at Posh, but Evans’ crimes are sporting related. He stained English football and Peterborough United are now endorsing those actions by employing him. That is something I find deeply saddening.
So, if you haven’t gathered, I think Evans’ appointment is ever so slightly abhorrent. He may get us promoted during his tenure, but any achievements will be tainted in my eyes. In truth, I think this represents a change of strategy at the club that is far too drastic and I’m not confident it will end well. There’s going to be fireworks, and I think some poor fucker is going to have a very difficult job picking up the pieces when Evans moves on.
Best o’ luck Steve.