Peterborough United gave Steve Evans the best of times and the worst of times in his football career
Peterborough United have given Steve Evans some of the best and worst days of his footballing career.
Being appointed manager of his local club in February, 2018, was a thrill to rank alongside his multiple promotions wins with Crawley and Rotherham, and to landing the managerial job at Leeds United.
But nothing compares to the low of getting sacked by Posh just 11 months after his arrival with the team in sixth place in League One having spent just one week outside the play-off places all season with a team assembled in indecent haste the previous summer.
You’d think he’d be carrying a huge grudge into Saturday’s (October 19) game between his latest club Gillingham and Posh at the Priestfield Stadium.
But you’d be wrong.
“I was hurt by my Posh sacking,” Evans admitted. “I didn’t see it coming. I was really down for three or four weeks, a time I got through thanks to a loving family and our close friends.
“I had to take myself away for a while just to get away from everything. I was upset. It was a bad time, but I’m back working in football again and I feel blessed.
“But my support for Posh as a club has never wavered and I fully respect a chairman has the god-given right to make any decison he wants.
“I will always be grateful he gave me the chance to manage Posh. It had always been a dream of mine.
“And Posh have one of the best chairmen in Darragh MacAnthony. In my short time at the club I quickly realised he lives and breathes Peterborough United and every decision he made was done to deliver success.
“At the time I left I was well aware that the results and performances hadn’t been good enough for a while, but in the first half of my last game against Charlton there were signs we were getting back to our best.
“We didn’t finish the game well and Charlton missed a penalty late on to give us a 0-0 draw, but the players gave everything that day and I felt we would soon come back to our best.
“The chairman thought otherwise and told me he wanted to go in a different direction and hey, he didn’t replace me with a bad manager did he?
“And what a squad they’ve put together. I doubt there’s a player in the dressing room they don’t want to be there. I was keen on Dan Butler in the summer, but once Posh became interested I had no chance and what a player Frazer Blake-Tracy must be to keep him out of the side.
“I expect Posh to get promotion and I hope they do.
“I remember what a lift reaching the Championship gave to the whole city and I hope they get back there.
“Of course I want to beat them first, but we are well aware how tough that could be. I watched the whole game from Wycombe over the weekend and 5-0 Posh after an hour would have been fair.
“Watching that game showed how foolish we would be to play gung-ho football on Saturday as they would pick us off with their attacking quality.
“But we will have a plan. We are playing okay, but like Posh we’ve had some frustraing results when we’ve been in front and playing well and then not won. We drew after building two-goal leads against Tranmere and Blackpool and those four extra points would have us right behind Posh.
“The chairman at Glillingham is clear what he expects. He said himself he wants a mid-table finish on a bottom three budget, but we could do better than that.
“Obviously managing Gillingham is a lot different to managing Posh because of the resources available. I had two teenagers in my back four at Portsmouth on Saturday because that’s the market I’m in now.
“I know one thing though and that’s Gillingham FC won’t still be battling to stay up on the penultimate Saturday of the season this year.
“If I have a regret from my time at Posh it’s not playing in a bolder fashion in home matches. It looked like we had built a squad better suited to playing away which wasn’t the idea.
“But it was a privilege to manage Posh. No-one can take that away from me.”