Reading FC Expose Leeds’ Loss of Mojo & Jansson’s Missing Magic Hat – by Rob Atkinson



Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos on their Elland Road lap of honour

Without wishing to seem wise after the event (I like to think that my wisdom is pretty much a permanent fixture) I just knew that Leeds United’s last-gasp penalty would not go in. There would be no salvaging of a late point for the home side at Elland Road; Reading FC would depart with the three points yesterday’s script demanded. And so it came to pass as I looked on with a jaundiced eye. I just bloody knew it.

It was not a good Saturday. Leeds were sluggish and out of sorts, the referee was fussily horrible – at one point he allowed Reading to take a free kick for offside ten yards inside the Leeds half – and there was a general feeling of malaise. To say this was a bad day at the office for Leeds seems hopelessly inadequate – David Brent himself had a better day, that time he was sacked by Wernham Hogg. The only bright spot (and not even this applied to everybody in the 33,900 attendance) was the sight of the victorious Leeds Rhinos players parading the Super League champions trophy around the pitch at half time. It was good to see United saluting the achievements of another Leeds sporting institution.

It seemed to many of the Leeds persuasion, and to some impartial observers too, that Pablo Hernandez had been fouled in the build-up to Reading’s winning goal, scored with poetic injustice by last season’s United loanee failure Modou Barrow. Post-match opinions were polarised: Reading manager Jaap Stam felt it hadn’t been a foul (and also that there was no foul for the Leeds penalty); Leeds boss Thomas Christiansen disagreed, but noted that “foreign coaches should not complain”. Even so, he’d made his views clear from pitch-side at the time – afterwards though, he simply shrugged and remarked “Well, you saw it”.

For United, it was a day to forget as swiftly as possible and move sharply on. Reading, arrayed in a day-glo orange and looking like a set of highlighter pens, came to do a job; they did it, however irritatingly, and now it’s history. Leeds will have to concentrate on regaining their mislaid mojo over the next few fixtures; they’re still handily-placed, even after three successive defeats, courtesy of that scorching start to the season. But losing can become a nasty habit, and it’s something that Christiansen and his troops need to nip in the bud before an annoying blip becomes a genuine crisis.

The Leeds boss was philosophical after this latest setback, whilst hinting that a change of system is not out of the question if he judges that’s what is necessary to turn things around. One notable factor in Reading’s success was their tactic of pressing high to stop United playing out from the back as has been the preferred approach all season. On the day, the home side simply weren’t good or confident enough to deal with the way Stam’s men set out their stall to contain, frustrate and hit on the break. It was a bad, bad day; as simple as that.

And it could even have been worse, but therein lies the one positive aspect of yesterday. At long last there was a change of ‘keeper for a league game, with Andy Lonergan taking his chance to impress. Lonners pulled off a few really good saves and generally looked less error-prone than Felix Wiedwald has done on many of his appearances this term. Afterwards, when asked about the change, Christiansen said that it was something he’d been thinking about. Lonergan did his future prospects no harm at all, and we must hope that his relatively unflappable air of security might spread to a United back four that has looked shaky of late. Pontus Jansson in particular looked tentative and even clumsy at times in the Reading game; part of United’s reduced effectiveness is probably down to Jansson’s magic hat being worn slightly askew as compared to last season. 

It’s still early days, and the situation as it stands is far from dire. But Leeds must do more than hope for better days ahead; they must be proactive, and take steps to ensure that a sharp improvement comes about – sooner rather than later.

10 responses to “Reading FC Expose Leeds’ Loss of Mojo & Jansson’s Missing Magic Hat – by Rob Atkinson

  1. The one good thing about yeasterday was LONERGAN. Man of the match for me and it will take time for the defense to grow in confidence with a goalkeeper on the pitch!


  2. Too many of our players, and maybe the manager, believing the early season hype built up by the supporters. It’s OK thinking everything is alright but it’s not obviously, like Monk TC left it too late to change things yesterday


  3. Two things. We had a terrific start to the season and we all got carried away, in fact swept away. We all thought we had found the magic formula, and when you hit the top you stick to what you are doing in the belief that it will carry you on but it’s a hard world. Last season we looked like cannon fodder, doom and gloom and Monk just one game away from the sack. We stuck with him, we stuck with the players and we started to get our shape and win. This is what we need to do again. We have skill, we have talent but we have inexperience at this level from some of the new guys. Weidwald was becoming a problem, he’s had a good opportunity to prove himself but he had to be dropped. Lonergan was far better. Jannson to me is a worry and has lost it compared to last season, Pennington has played well when called upon. Hernandez is just so bloody annoying, hot and cold. brilliant and then pathetic. Dallas has more than staked his claim on the team sheet and for me so has Vieira.
    I think TC is a good coach I also think he is beginning to realise just how hard and tough this league is. We need strengthening and I think we need some good home grown talent brought in but we have the tools to pick up the momentum again and get us out of this blip which I believe is what we are in. Slamming every man and his dog will do nothing but demoralise. Get behind the guys, after all they put us where we are despite the drop in form.


  4. Hi Rob,
    I agree with yorxman’s comment’s changes should have been made at half time.The slow start we had did play right into reading’s hands.The thing that puzzles me is that TC made the same comment in a press call after the match Why didn’t he do somthing about it at the time is too simple to suggest he could of shouted to the players come on lads speed it up a bit and stop passing the ball backwards?While I don’t want to criticise him too much there was a couple of other things that came to my notice the imaginary card waving was a disgrace and somthing I don’t want to see from a lufc manager,also taking the pee out of 33,000 Leeds fans for suggesting in the post match press call that Leeds deseved to win. We lost and deserved to lose.
    Hope we can move on from here however looking at the table 4 of our wins were to the current bottom 4 clubs maybe we did hype ourselves up too much.


  5. Grenville Hair

    interested in people’s thoughts on our woeful ground capacity these days – fully 6,000 less than 15 years ago. A priority with a half-decent side has to be to redevelop the ground – big clubs don’t have grounds that hold 35k and it’s clear up to now this season at least (but maybe not much longer, sadly!) we could accommodate far more and get more ticket income through. Some things are hard to explain – why are two banks of the West Stand often fenced off? Why are the first few rows of the South Stand off limits – it’s not the Champions League for goodness sake? Priority has to be a bigger South Stand for me – the intimidating arena ER once was is a distant memory and that doesn’t do the team any favours


  6. Just a note that there is nothing wrong per se with a free kick for offside being taken in the opposition’s half. While it used to be the case that the kick is taken from where the offender was located when the ball was played, for the last 2 seasons the kick is taken from where the player actually touches the ball after being offside.


  7. Just read your column in the Dewsbury reporter Rob,, I miss my chopper too 😁


  8. Pingback: What do Leeds United need to do to turn around this run of form? | Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

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