IT was Howard Wilkinson who said a few years ago, on taking the Sunderland job, perception is everything.
Steve Evans, the new Rotherham United manager, officially started out yesterday aiming to dispel a few perceptions about a footballing character whose chequered past has made him a controversial figure of the game.
If it was a charm offensive then the new Millers manager made a pretty good job of it. By the end, someone with pointed ears and holding a three-pronged trident couldn’t be found!
Anyway, Evans has just left the Red Devils behind. Not that Crawley wanted him to leave.
As he was driving up here on Monday morning, ready to sign his Millers contract, a call came from his old club wondering if he might have a last minute change of heart.
But his mind was made up. A piece of his heart will always be with Crawley but he was ready for a new beginning; new challenges; new people to convince.
He’d already convinced Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart... “he’s a gentleman off the pitch,” he said whilst not quite finding the words to describe the same man at pitchside!
Evans had to be convinced Stewart was the right chairman. “Sir Alex Ferguson told me that if I was ever to leave then pick your next club by its chairman,” he said. “He’s right. And he’s going to have a right, proper go.”
Stewart and Evans aim to be a partnership that will take the club onwards and upwards. Evans talked about it being a Championship club in League Two; Stewart even mentioned going all the way to the top one day.
The pitchside rotweiler talked calmly and convincingly to the assembled throng. Words like passion and drive and challenge got tossed in regularly and you can see the glint in his eye when he talks about where he believes he can take the club.
He was generous with his time. He talked passionately about the game, the club, what he expects, what can be done. He oozed a confidence that he, and his assistant, Paul Raynor, can and will deliver.
He said he’s a 24/7 football man. Somebody confided that he’ll happily talk football 24/7. He starts early. Mark him down as a 7.30am man.
He says he’s a winner. He’s started that task already - winning people over!