Former Liverpool boss Roy Evans was today lured out of retirement by Swindon - thanks to Town chairman Danny Donegan’s friendship with Neil Ruddock.
Evans, 52, is the new director of football at the Second Division underachievers, while former Anfield centre-half Ruddock has been appointed player-coach.
The duo have signed three-year deals at the County Ground after Ruddock, 33, and his close friend Donegan persuaded Evans to succeed Andy King, who took the Wiltshire side to the brink of relegation to Division Three in his ninth-month tenure last season.
Evans explained: ‘‘I got a phone call a week ago - Razor Ruddock rang me and said the chairman would be interested if I was.
‘‘I said I’d show some interest. We spoke at length yesterday and I like the chairman’s ambition.
‘‘Every job in football is a challenge, but for some reason, I liked the views of the chairman and the people I’ve met here. I’m looking forward to it immensely.’’
Donegan added: ‘‘I bumped into Neil on various occasions when I used to go and watch him at West Ham. He’s a character and he’s got a lot to offer the club.’’
Town hope Evans who spent 33 years as a player, coach and manager at Anfield can revive the club as they begin the long battle to return to the Premiership, from where they were relegated seven years ago.
Evans admitted lower-league football is alien to him. ‘‘It’s a bit of unknown territory for me, but it’s still about football,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s something we’ve got to deal with and get used to very quickly. I don’t envisage too many problems.
‘‘There’s been no tying my hands behind my back, but obviously I have to be aware of the financial situation at the club.
‘‘The staff they’ve got here are excellent and we’re here to work alongside them. Everybody has a nice, positive attitude.
‘‘The players seem a decent bunch and I hope they can improve day by day. There’s no magic wand in football, and at the end of the day, the players have got to be good enough.
‘‘If we can help them become that, then we’ll have done our job properly.’’
A three-month stint as assistant boss at Fulham last year was Evans’ sole involvement in management since standing down at Liverpool in November 1998.
He admitted to feeling down after leaving the Merseysiders, but is now clearly relishing the prospect of the director of football position at Swindon.
‘‘When you initially come out of football and Liverpool, you’re on a bit of a downer for a few months, then you get over that and get on with your life,’’ he added. ‘‘I’ve enjoyed travelling a fair bit and playing a bit of golf.
‘‘It (the job title) gives me a little bit more scope to work with, not just the football side, but the people in the stadium to try and help them improve the club as a whole. I quite like the idea of that.
‘‘Razor is a great player. When he was at Liverpool with me, he was known as a character and he’s got that sort of Pied Piper leadership. I think he’ll be a great leader. We’ve got a Premiership player for Swindon Town.’’
Former England defender Ruddock added: ‘‘I’ve always wanted to get into coaching and I took my badge in the summer. I had a few other options, but felt this was the right option for me.
‘‘It’s great to be back with Roy. I had five great years under him at Liverpool and he helped me a lot and made me a better player.
‘‘It’s quite an opportunity for me - and I’m going to take it with both hands. As long as the legs keep going, I want to keep playing.’’
Donegan insisted funds will be made available to Evans. ‘‘He took some getting here,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s never been a manager here that has the experience or resources he can draw on.
‘‘We had discussions with various managers and Roy was our preferred choice. If it’s achievable, I’m sure Roy will do it.
‘‘You couldn’t bring somebody like Roy to a club and say to him we haven’t got any money to spend on players.
‘‘We’ve asked him to assess what we’ve got and make the best of that and if there is a weakness then he’ll have to do something about it.’’