When Steve Evans turned up at Elland Road, almost a year ago, as Rotherham manager and dressed in a sombrero and beach wear, it is fair to say he was carrying a little extra weight.
However, over recent months Leeds fans have been noticing that as the team’s fortunes have improved, with the players looking hungrier, Steve Evans himself is a shade of the man that he once was.
The loss of weight is definitely noticeable, you’d have to be severely sight-affected to not be able to see a Steve Evans approaching, yet not quite at the ‘svelte’ level. It was so noticeable that TV Yorkshire’s Mark Wilson took the opportunity to ask him when questioning him before Reading game, a 3-2 victory at Elland Road.
Before the weight loss, there were no doubt jokes made about his size, names such as ‘Big Steve’ and allusions to liking Greggs a little too much – you know, that sort of schoolboy humour that people should have really grown out of when their mother stopped kissing ‘ouches’ better after they’d taken a tumble.
However, the Daily Star, one of Britain’s best-loved ‘newspapers’ – and that is a term I use very loosely – once printed a story that focused purely on the fact that they said he had to hand-sew a badge onto old Rotherham kit as Leeds United didn’t have a szie big enough to fit him.
When I first read it, I expected it to have been written by some cheeky scamp at the end of a school work-experience placement, you know a bit of a ‘Lad Bible’ moment; it wasn’t, it was written by their chief sports writer. In this EXCLUSIVE, the tone was set in the sub-heading with Evans being tagged with the term ‘Roly-Poly Leeds boss’. I ended that article with the following line:
Nowt like fat-shaming Daily Star, nowt like fat-shaming.
So whilst The Star, and likely most others, started out chuckling at the expanse that was Steve Evans, there’s less laughter resounding around football circles now.
Not only has Steve Evans taken cutting down on his weight seriously, he also has to be taken seriously with the achievements he’s made since being Leeds United’s head coach – the longest one under Massimo Cellino. Since taking over at Elland Road, Steve Evans has steered Leeds to a 46 point haul, that places them 9th amongst all teams over that period and only 5 points behind Sheffield Wednesday over the same period.
Who’s laughing now Daily Star, who’s laughing now?