Steve Evans announced his arrival as Peterborough United manager today (February 28) by insisting ‘if we make the League One play-offs, we will win them.’
The charismatic, and controversial, boss spoke exclusively to the Peterborough Telegraph just a couple of hours after putting pen to paper on a contract described as ‘lengthy’ by the club.
Evans is a six-time promotion winner with Boston United, Crawley Town and Rotherham United and he left Mansfield Town yesterday with the Stags just one win away from an automatic promotion place. Evans also had a short spell managing Leeds United in the Championship.
The 55 year-old insists the decision to leave Mansfield was unrelated to him taking his ‘dream job’ with his local club and he implored Posh fans to judge him on his results rather than on the baggage that always accompanies him on his journey around the Football League.
Evans watched Posh beat Walsall 2-1 at the ABAX Stadium on Tuesday night. He is happy to be working with a talented squad, but he also suggested he would bring his own players to the club in the summer if promotion isn’t achieved.
Evans is also confident that the crucial manager/chairman relationship with social media expert Darragh MacAthony will work despite their well-earned reputations for straight-talking. MacAnthony tried to bring Evans to Posh a few years back.
“I pick the team and I manage the team,” Evans stated. “That’s not up for debate. But it won’t be an issue. I’ve known Darragh for a while. He’s been brilliant for Posh and I am looking forward to working with him. There won’t be any problems there.
“We are both ambitious people. We wouldn’t have spoken for three hours this morning if that wasn’t the case and I wouldn’t be working for him now either.
“All owners have opinions and so they should. I’m not on social media because if I was I would probably cry myself to sleep every night!
“The chairman wants promotion this season and I want to deliver it for him. And I tell you this much, if we make the play-offs we will win them.
“I have been close to coming here a couple of times in the past, but we could never get the timing right. When they wanted me I couldn’t commit.
“I keep a close eye on League One and no-one seems to want to finish fifth or sixth. The top four are winning every week, but no-one else seems to want to win the fight for the other play-off places. Well I do and that’s what we will strive to achieve.
“I’m very lucky in more than one way. This is a job I have always wanted. It’s a club close to my heart in a city I’ve lived for 30 years. It’s the place my kids were born and raised.
“I was at Selhurst Park in 2013 when Posh were relegated from the Championship and I had tears streaming down my face at full-time, like many other fans.
“That afternoon still hurts and partly why returning Posh to the Championship would make me so proud. That’s the level this club should be playing at. It’s the level the chairman deserves to be.
“I’m also lucky to be taking over a team with a great chance of winning promotion straight away. As a new manager you normally take over a struggling team. This club has a great opportunity to be successful this season even though they’ve not been at their best recently.
“There is a lot of talent here and if myself and Paul Raynor (Evans’ assistant) can add to it we could get into that top six and I know what would then happen because I’ve won the League One play-offs before.
“If we don’t get up then some ‘Steve Evans-type’ players will be coming here in the summer.
“I like what I have at the club now though. It wasn’t the best performance on Tuesday, but I saw plenty of desire and some huge hearts.
“Jack Marriott is the perfect striker for this level, while I was impressed with Michael Doughty, who I had loan at Crawley once, and with Steven Taylor once he moved into the centre of the defence.
“I once tried to sign Gwion Edwards when I was at Rotherham, but he came to Posh instead so I know a few of the players and I will meet them all tomorrow (Thursday).
“Obviously it’s sad that I am replacing a club legend in Grant McCann. I’ve been in the London Road End bouncing up and down like Zebedee when Grant scored a crucial goal but this sort of thing happens in football.
“I’m surprised clubs like Mansfield or Grimsby haven’t called Grant up already. He will become a top manager for someone.
“I’m aware there will be criticism of my appointment, but all I ask of supporters is to judge me on results.
“You can appoint a club playing legend as manager, but if he loses three games in a row questions will always be asked. Results are what really matter.
“My arrival at Posh happened quickly. I decided to leave Mansfield to pursue an opportunity outside of the UK. It’s something that’s been available to me for a few years.
“I rang Barry Fry (Posh director of football) for tickets to watch the game against Walsall and he asked me if I’d be interested in working here. Five minutes later the chairman was on the phone.
“Mansfield and their owners were great with me and I’m happy to have left them in a great position in League Two. They have a mid-table League One squad there.
“In fact only winning promotion with Posh would give me more satisfaction than Mansfield winning promotion this season.”
Evans confirmed he usually plays 4-4-2 or a slight variation as ‘playing with one striker has never really worked for me’ and that he will discuss the future of the Posh coaching staff with them in person tomorrow.
Evans has a brief to assess and improve every department at the club.
David Oldfield (assistant manager/coach) and Mark Tyler (goalkeeping coach) were McCann appointments.