By Coral Barry

Andy Ritchie believes Steve Evans deserves a permanent contract because he is the best manager Leeds has had under Massimo Cellino’s ownership.

Speculation about Evans’ future has been a constant theme for Leeds since the 4-0 home humiliation to Brighton and Hove Albion in February, but Ritchie is convinced the Scot has done enough to warrant an extension to his six-month contract, which expires in June.

Leeds owner Cellino has not been afraid to publicly criticise Evans this season, with the Italian voicing concerns over his manager’s relationship with the media.

Cellino has accused Evans of “talking too much” at times, but with Leeds on course for their best points tally in five years, Ritchie has suggested the Whites boss has established himself as the most impressive of the club’s recent managers.

“You have got to say that of all the recent managers/head coaches that Leeds United have had, Steve Evans has been the most successful,” wrote Ritchie in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“In terms of point tallies, he could take the club to their best haul in five seasons if they finish the season well with two games to go against Charlton this afternoon and at Preston next weekend and he is the most successful of all the ‘watermelons’ employed by Mr Cellino.

“But obviously, there’s now the subject of Steve’s future. I read an article from Steve the other day saying he hasn’t known what is happening in terms of the future with the president for a while. Whether it is a good thing or bad thing, I just don’t know.

“But if Leeds achieve their best points tally since 2010-11 and possibly finish in the top ten, that has got to be progress hasn’t it?”

Evans took over from the sacked Uwe Rosler in October after the German managed just two wins from 12 games in charge.

Rosler had only been in the Leeds hotseat since May and Ritchie believes that Evans’ future does not hinge on this season’s performance, but rather on how he will do in the opening weeks of the next campaign.

Ritchie suggests that Cellino may be convinced to keep Evans on board this summer, but will have little patience with the Scot if he fails to hit the ground running next season.

The former Leeds striker said: “The problem also for Steve is he will know what will happen if he doesn’t get it right at Leeds at the beginning of next season and the opportunity will fade away.”

In other Leeds news, Evans has revealed how he feels heading into the Whites’ final home game without an offer of a contract extension on the table.