ROY EVANS yesterday parted company with Liverpool, the club he has served for 35 years. Evans and David Moores, the Liverpool chairman, made the announcement, and the joint-manager Gerard Houllier takes sole control of the club.
"Today is a sad day for Liverpool and me personally," Moores said. "We have agreed by mutual consent that Roy and Doug Livermore, his assistant, are leaving the club. I would like to pay tribute to all he [Evans] has done for the club for 35 years. I offered Roy another position at the club but he has chosen to have a break. I could talk for hours about Roy and my respect for him."
Evans said: "I'd like to thank the chairman and board for the support they have given me. I have felt over the past three or four weeks that things have not been working out. I dispute the theory that my time here has been a failure - fourth, third, fourth, third in my seasons here is not failure. That record is second only to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United."
Asked why he refused to take another post at Anfield, Evans said: "It would be easy to stay, but to give Gerard and his team a chance, you have to walk away. I know I could have stayed here, but I decided to make a complete break. I didn't want to end as a ghost on the wall."
Of his future, Evans said: " I don't know what I will do. I just want to get this over today. I cannot imagine working at another club. I am 50, not exactly old and not ready for the dustbin. I want to relax a bit. I want this club to get on - that is the most important thing."
Evans was asked if it was fair that he took the blame for failure. "It is not a matter of one man taking the blame. It is what is in the best interests of the club. I went into the partnership with Gerard with my eyes open and hoping it could work. It hasn't worked. Results have not gone our way."
Almost in tears, he added: "It is not about the relationship between me and Gerard. It had nothing to do with personalities. It just did not work out. You just feel it is not the right formula for players. They do not know who the boss is."
Moores added: "We have to go forward. It is sad for me personally because I have known Roy as a teenager, but you have to think of the club. It always comes first.
Moores confirmed that Phil Thompson, the former Liverpool defender and coach, will be returning to the club as assistant manager. The chairman said: "Phil is passionate about the club and desperately wants success."
Houllier, who will be in sole charge against Leeds at Anfield tomorrow, sat alongside his new assistant and said: "This morning was one of the saddest and most emotional moments of my Liverpool days. I spent some time with Roy in my office, knowing that was the end of our partnership.
"Being the sole manager, I asked if we could have an assistant manager who had a Liverpool heart, if you like, a Liverpool figure. They recommended Phil.
"I am not going to cheat, I am not going to tell you I have known Phil for a long time."
Houllier indicated that he would be entering the transfer market sooner rather than later. "We need some players," he admitted. "It is not easy because there is not a lot around. We do need some players and I have the assurance that I have the financial backing for that."
Thompson said: "There might be a few hearts getting broken. I've been brought to bring in a kick-up-the-backside to a lot of players. I think most people realise this is one of the greatest days of my life.
"I got a shock yesterday when I was about to take part in a five-a-side. I was getting changed when Peter Robinson [the Anfield vice-chairman] phoned. That's the way it happened. It was a major, major shock to me. I thought my time had passed. I have been involved in the game but not at this level."
Houllier spelt out his immediate plans yesterday. "The next game [against Leeds] is the most important one. Maybe things have not been going too well. Maybe we need to improve the fluidity of the game. We need to get some players in to reinforce the team. We are here because the players did not kick the ball the right way. We cannot kick the ball for the players."
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