ROY EVANS last night delivered his verdict on the first 12 months of Gerard Houllier's Anfield reign.
A year to the day since the collapse of Liverpool's ill-fated management double act, Evans has saluted Houllier's achievement in rebuilding a side which now stands fifth in the Premiership and within reach of European qualification.
But speaking for the first time about events surrounding his decision to quit the club he served for 35 years, the former Reds boss also hit out at the original decision to partner him with the Frenchman.
"I don't think that partnership was fair to either of us," he insisted. "That's looking at it with common sense after the event."
The union looked doomed to failure from the outset and lasted just six months before results slumped alarmingly.
Evans took the heart-wrenching decision to walk away from the club he had served as player, coach and manager after seeing his side slip to 12th in the table and crash out of the Worthington Cup to Tottenham in front of a half-empty Anfield.
"We did try to work as joint managers with honesty," he added "to try to make it work. But sometimes these things just don't work.
"I approached the board of directors and told them I didn't think it was working with the two of us together. I took that initiative.
"A lot of people said 'I told you so after' it was over. But the management side of football is a massive job and a lot of clubs are trying to structure it a different way."
Evans has returned to Anfield just once, the 1-0 league win over West Ham last month, since the afternoon he was driven away from the ground in tears having handed control to co-manager Houllier.
"When you first leave a football club you think you should still be there," he added. "But I knew when I left that I would not be back for a while.
"I went back for the first time a few weeks ago and was treated like a king.
"Everybody was very friendly and it was nice to see a lot of the old faces again.
"After spending 35 years there, I just hope they can get back to their old position at the top of football. I will always have a passion for Liverpool, that's for sure.
"Looking at them now, they've had three good results in the last three home games and it has pushed them right back into a more respectable position.
"Hopefully they can springboard from there to a European place, or even further than that."
But Evans, linked recently with a return to management, also admitted his failure to capture significant silverware was the leading reason for his ultimate downfall.
"I had four and a half years in sole charge and we didn't do too badly, but we didn't do well enough for a club like Liverpool," he said.
"We were close and, certainly one season, we we should have been closer, possibly even have won the title. But we didn't and that's the top and bottom of it.
"I've had a year away from the game now. I've re-charged my batteries. At 51, I feel I have a lot to offer and I want to get back into the game now."`
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