Football: Rise of boy from the Boot Room

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The Independent Online
ROY EVANS did not enjoy a distinguished career in the Liverpool first team. After a handful of games spread over five years, Bill Shankly advised him to hang up his boots and take to the Boot Room at the age of 25. Now, as Evans succeeds the departing Graeme Souness as manager, the junior NCO becomes the CO.

Evans has worked a long Anfield apprenticeship. The club won nine Central League titles in his 11 seasons as reserve- team trainer, and he then spent further time on the first-team bench before he was appointed No 2 to Souness last May.

Underneath that still-thick thatch, albeit grey, is a calculating football brain. Evans, 45 now, was influenced by no- frills football thinkers like Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran and Kenny Dalglish.

There was also Tom Saunders, manager of England Boys when Evans played alongside Trevor Brooking as a 15-year- old full-back. 'Roy had a heart the size of a lion's, and that's why he was never out of the England team that year,' Saunders said yesterday. Saunders is now a director of the Liverpool board that ratified Evans's appointment.

Until he accepted this challenge, there had to be a suspicion that Evans preferred the status of middle management without exposure to the perils of leading Liverpool.

Not that he is the retiring sort. Years ago, as a Boot Room rookie, Evans was the star turn at the staff Christmas party. This character with the 'Just William' looks and a liking for good wine was a chip off the Chippendale block.

Shankly was not present on that evening of frivolity in a Liverpool hotel, preferring to allow his back-room team and their partners to let their hair down in private - and Roy Evans let his hair down.

The fourth member of the Boot Room to become manager after Paisley, Fagan and Moran, Evans will be paid much less than many of the players under his command. They have egos and caps galore. But none has more between the ears than the ex-Boot Room boy from Bootle. It has taken 30 years for him to reach the top. He will not easily chuck that chance away.