First game for Don Givens in Charge
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Ian Evans has revealed he is unhappy at being "sacked" by the FAI as Ireland under-21 manager. On Friday afternoon, the FAI announced that Arsenal youth coach and former Irish international Don Givens had been appointed as the associations new full time under-21 manager. Evans later said he believes he is capable of continuing the job he began in March 1996.
"I was under-21 manager and I was enjoying it, and then all of a sudden it was taken away from me for reasons best known to the FAI, " he said."They said the reason I was reemployed on a new contract was to assist the senior side more and to relinquish the under21 job. I felt I could combine both jobs and was doing quite well."
Evans also confirmed he had effectively been sacked from his job as under-21 manager."Ive been in football since I left school, " he said."Ive played, managed, and coached at all levels all the way through, and if you lose your job in football, you are sacked.Thats the only term or word Ive ever been used to. Im a footballing man, and if youve been relieved of your duties or relinquished your job, you have been sacked."
On Thursday night, FAI chief executive Bernard O Byrne confirmed that the associations board of management were concerned that Evans no longer had the time to be both Mick McCarthys assistant and under-21 manager."Increasingly, due to his duties with the under-21 team, he was away from what were his primary duties, " said O Byrne."We had a concern about that, and we spoke to Mick and to Ian about it.He would like to continue managing the team, but he perfectly understands."
Evans first heard that his position might be up for review when the story was leaked to the media during Irelands Euro 2000 qualifying visit to Malta last September. Before Ireland played in Macedonia in October, both he and McCarthy signed new contracts, which are due to expire in February 2002. It wasnt announced officially at the time, but Evans contract stipulated that he should stand down as under-21 manager.A number of the under21 players knew about it some time ago.
Some members of the FAI are believed to be unhappy at the results achieved by Evans in his time in charge. A couple of disastrous defeats in the past year, including a 2-0 defeat by Yugoslavia in Dublin and a 5-1 hammering by Croatia in Zabreb took the gloss off victories in Malta and Macedonia. In Evans 23 matches in charge, Ireland achieved nine wins, four draws, and 10 defeats.
His predecessor, Maurice Setters, won five matches out of 32.
"All of a sudden I got comments about the lack of results, which I didnt think were too bad, " said Evans."There was a witch hunt for me by certain journalists, who were making statements about the discipline in the under21 team.There were some people jumping on the bandwagon that I didnt even know existed.Why the hell were they starting on me?
They even accused me of not being suitable as assistant team manager.Thats something else thats driving me up the wall."
Evans insists his efforts to achieve consistency were hampered by the inevitable promotion of the best under-21 players - Robbie Keane and Damien Duff among them - to McCarthys senior team. Even though Givens has been appointed, Evans will continue to assist in the scouting of underage players."Ill continue doing what Ive done before. If Don Givens wants me, Id still like to be able to tell him Ive seen so-and-so and that Id put him in his squad."
Evans also confirmed that in spite of his sacking as under-21 manager, he has never considered stepping down as Mick McCarthys assistant."Thats what I have been ever since Mick went into management, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I will continue as long as he wants me to be. I wouldnt walk away from it and leave him high and dry."