By Alex Stevens

Steve Evans has claimed Massimo Cellino’s public criticism of his management style is in stark contrast to the Leeds owner’s recent private praise.

Evans says the controversial Italian is continuing to support him amid reports that the Scot will become the sixth manager of Cellino’s two-year Elland Road tenure to be axed.

The Mail has claimed that Italy World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro was in Leeds on Saturday for talks and is close to agreeing a deal to replace Evans.

Cellino has denied that Cannavaro is the next in line to take on one of the most perilous positions in English football.

But he has spoken freely of his attempts to persuade an elite manager to take on the task of steering Leeds back to the top flight and a place in the Champions League.

Evans was again forced to field questions about his future after Cellino used an interview with the Telegraph to accuse the Scot of “talking too much” and cleared the way for another change of boss by saying he “cannot work with English managers.”

Evans became the sixth first-team boss of Cellino’s reign last October and is currently the longest serving under the Italian but Cellino is yet to make any move towards extending the 53-year-old’s short-term contract.

“I don’t think the president would say anything disrespectful to me,” said Evans, as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post. “I know what he’s told me privately and what he thinks of me as an individual and a head coach.

“I had very positive communications and an exchange of messages with him on Saturday evening and again last night. But one thing with Leeds United is you can’t get away from a daily story.

“I could never tell anyone at this club not to have their own opinions. We all have our opinions. That’s what it is. The president does his job and I have to do mine.”

Axe man: Cellino hinted that Evans' reign will soon be over

Axe man: Cellino hinted that Evans’ reign will soon be over

Evans admitted that Cellino’s comments in public sounded less supportive than their recent discussions but told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Nothing in football surprises you. What I would say is that when I’ve spoken to him in the last couple of days it’s been totally positive about performances and results.

“He knows that being head coach at Leeds United is a very difficult job. Everyone has an opinion on Leeds United, more than anywhere else in the league.

“I’ve not seen the article or all the quotes but if Mr Cellino decides it’s time up then it’s time up. History tells you that. But we’re on target to have our highest-placed finish in five years, from a remit of ‘keep us in the division because we may get relegated.’ That would be an overwhelming success.

“But I’d never be aggrieved (if Cellino replaces him). Five or six years ago I may have got upset with things. I’m not saying I wouldn’t shed tears or hurt but there’s a difference.”

In other Leeds news, ex-Elland Road striker Noel Whelan has given his verdict on Evans’ future.