Since his arrival, a lot has been said and written about Steve Evans suitability for the Leeds job with criticism of his past indiscretions, style of play and media stunts boxes all well-ticked.

To many, he was just a bit of a class clown, unworthy of the prized role Massimo Cellino has been making an absolute mockery of as he passes it, without any thought, from one random manager to the next depending on mood. The impression many Leeds fans had was of a cringe-worthily outspoken, middle-aged obese man more notable for his sombrero and beachwear stunt at Elland Road last season than anything he’d achieved in football. He wasn’t (and to some, still isn’t) a man befitting the role of Leeds United boss.

That’s not to say the whole fanbase was against him, there was also a sizeable portion of the Leeds faithful who thought it might work, pointing to a CV of reasonable success – albeit at lower levels with smaller clubs – but even they acknowledged this was a very different situation and Evans was yet to experience anything close to the job – and inherent chaos – he was now stepping in to.

Then there was the rest of us, those of us too tired of Cellino’s erratic behaviour to give any real consideration to Evans’ suitability. “In all likelihood” we sighed and collectively reasoned, “he’ll be gone in a month.”

Yet three months on, with Evans having guided Leeds through a tricky and congested December fixture list undefeated (a feat which must surely make him favourite for manager of the month given the circumstances at Elland Road?) I’m starting to wonder whether Cellino has stumbled upon a very clever operator disguised by Evans’ crazy façade.

There were signs of someone with the right ideas from day one. Firstly, he’s a distraction. Not in the “oh my god, is he trying to ruin us?” way Cellino excels in, but in a way that allows him to redirect the attention of all those watching on. He seems to use the media to his own advantage, whether that’s to create something of a siege mentality (like he did with the fixture congestion), in an attempt to make players rethink their futures (as with Byram), or to keep our madcap owner on-side (backing him over Sky) while still reminding Cellino of promises made (January spending). All of it is very deliberate, but Evans wraps it in jokey remarks and (sometimes feigned) outrage to ensure his message gets to the relevant parties with whom he’s undoubtedly playing a bit of internal politics/mind-games, but in a way that keeps the club looking outwardly united as he shifts focus to common enemies.

And what all that (along with what he’s doing on the training pitch) is starting to result in is a Leeds United that look like the Leeds United I want to watch. There’s a determined look to our squad at the minute, borne of the siege mentality Evans has started to create.

We’ve been getting teasing glimpses of it for a while now, but last night against Derby County saw a more aggressive looking Leeds side imposing themselves on, and forcing superior opposition into mistakes. It was a Leeds United side playing with determination and grit at a higher tempo than we’ve seen for far too long, a side whose heads didn’t drop when we went behind, but who collectively rose up and fed off a crowd more than happy to do their part.

Oftentimes, the roar of appreciation for a strong tackle will be indistinguishable from a goal at Elland Road because to fans of Leeds United, the fighting spirit is as necessary for our long-term success as a steady supply of goals.

As it is for players, it’s only right that in the role of Leeds United manager, the fight to prove yourself is ongoing so I’ll refrain from throwaway sentiments that hail Evans as the saviour of our beloved football club. What I will say however, is that while ever Evans can keep the players fighting like they did last night, he’ll have my full support, and no doubt find plenty more alongside me on the Elland Road terraces.

Happy Christmas everyone and all the best for 2016.

On and on…