Pontus Jansson Should Buckle Down at Leeds and Show Us Why We Used to Love Him – by Rob Atkinson


Pontus as we knew and loved him

It’s been a love affair like so many others, waxing hot with passion and mutual desire in that early, devoted phase – then cooling off, with indifference where once was there was adoration. Harsh words are spoken, third party interest rears its opportunist head, and whatever the formerly enamoured couple might say only serves to emphasise the widening gap between them.

This is how things are now developing for those two erstwhile paramours, Pontus Jansson and the massed support of Leeds United. In the beginning, it looked like true love, with frequent, heartfelt declarations on both sides. Pontus said and did the right things, and the besotted Leeds crowd swooned accordingly. Pontus headed away every threat on our goal, and occasionally sallied forth upfield for attacking set pieces, nutting spectacular goals that roused the support to a fever pitch of ecstasy and adoration.

Surely, this was a love affair that would stand the test of time, with Jansson living up to the lyrics of his love ballad by demonstrating his willingness to head away footballs, opposing attackers, bricks, meteorites if need be. Pontus did it all, and communed with the support after the final whistle sounded and battle was done. Great was the love that cascaded down from the stands for our Swedish hero. Pontus was Leeds, and Leeds loved Pontus.

When the rot started to set in, it seemed scarcely believable – but, in reality, it was that age-old story of love and then loss being retold in the football idiom. Leeds fans didn’t want to believe their idol had feet of clay, and spent months in denial as Jansson’s form faded and the occasional lapses of fidelity became more frequent. Pontus started to show a tendency to bail out when the going got tough; only a few brave souls, at first, invited charges of heresy by pointing this out. The support en masse waited for signs that the beloved Pontus still loved them and would return to his brick-heading ways of those passionate early stages of mutual devotion.

But a few – a significant few – feared that the magic had gone, that the magic hat no longer fitted a swollen head, that Pontus had lost his desire and dedication. Time and again, when things were going against the team, Pontus sought the sanctuary of the changing rooms, nursing some apparent injury that would miraculously clear up when easier opponents were in the offing. It seemed as though our hero had a streak of yellow in what had seemed to be a warrior’s persona, and his adoring fans fretted at this evidence of fallibility in a man who, not so long before, had seemed to epitomise all that was good and heroic about Leeds United and its fanatical following.

Alas, the evidence against Pontus continued to pile up last season. Despite the occasional signs of defiance in defence, and the even more occasional evidence of lethal intent in attack, Pontus was, overall, the merest shadow of the Pontus we’d known and hailed as a defining hero the season before. Slowly, the truth was dawning on the Pontus fan club: here, just possibly, was yet another apparent idol who had flattered, only to deceive. We’ve seen enough of those before – but, with Pontus, it was supposed to be different.

Now, with his substandard contribution to Leeds United’s substandard season behind him, Jansson is away at the World Cup with his national team, and he’s making noises about his future that will not sound like sweet nothings to those who have worshipped him since those hearts and flowers early days. He wants to stay in England, we hear, but – despite the fact that he has a contract running until 2022, he’s not going to commit himself to seeing it out. He wants to aim for the Premier League, but if you read between the lines of his public utterances, he might rather achieve this through a transfer out of Leeds than soil his hands, feet and head by battling through another Championship muck and bullets campaign.

Maybe I’m doing Pontus a disservice, but perhaps I can be forgiven a slight bitterness. I loved Pontus too, as much as anyone, when he was doing it for Leeds and everybody was raving about this new juggernaut at Elland Road. And I’ve seen central defenders arrive on loan before, performing excellently and then, as soon as a permanent deal is signed, fading away to be the merest shadow of their former selves. It’s become depressingly regular – but I would have laughed at any suggestion of it being a route our Pontus might go down. And yet here we are, watching with horror as Jansson morphs before our eyes into just another Lubo Michalik. It’s just so sad to see a loved one end up this way.

Still, other relationships have hit rocky patches and still come through. It’s still possible for the Leeds support and their Pontus to rekindle some measure of the rapport that seemed to exist until comparatively recently. But it’s not for the injured party in these cases to make special efforts or resolutions. That’s for the one who strays, by word or deed – they’re the guilty element in the equation. It’s for them to renew their vows and attempt to rebuild bridges. Pontus needs to clear his mind, stop chelping about his club career until the World Cup is done with, and then settle down to win his admirers back by recalling the Jansson we used to know, possibly even – who knows? – with his partner of those heady early days, Kyle Bartley, once more by his side.

One more season of that partnership, together with improvement elsewhere in the squad, might enable Jansson to recapture his mojo, stop blaming others for his own failings and generally get back on the horse again and start heading away those bricks, to the left and to the right. If all that comes to pass, maybe Jansson will finally secure his passage to the Premier League. And it would taste all the sweeter, because he would have earned it. Along with, not incidentally, the renewed and restored adoration of his Elland Road fan club.

Pontus, you know it makes sense, and you know you owe us this – so make it happen. After all, every one of us wants the traditional happy ending.

14 responses to “Pontus Jansson Should Buckle Down at Leeds and Show Us Why We Used to Love Him – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Scally Lad

    Totally agree, Rob, but it’s delusional for us to believe that these lads, like Pontus, with but a few years to make their names and fortunes, are going to gut it out for pennies and little publicity in venues like the bottom of the Championship when they think they can compete in the Premiership and for fat wage packets. We can long for their loyalty, but for these lads, with short professional lives and no native loyalty to a side, expecting them to labor for low pay and little notice is just unreasonable.


  2. gerrycwmbran

    Well, I had to read it twice Rob!
    The first t time I agreed with bits, the second I had to admit defeat and fall in beside you!
    May be, like you, I didn’t want to hear it let alone believe it but on the second reading I latched on to more and – yes – we will have to accept what you say as the absolute truth as to how the past two years have panned out.

    Perhaps, after all, it was KYLE BARTLEY we needed to keep and hail more – and let Pontus go back to his home town!
    Perhaps, after all though, the Pontus we want and indeed crave for will return this year when he has KYLE BARTLEY to stand firm beside him?

    We can only hope, otherwise he will be no loss unfortunately.


  3. Steve Hall

    An entertaining & insightful piece blending the best of Brian Glanville & Barbara Cartland. Hope it sways the Swede.


  4. He’s gone from priceless to princess in one season.
    (Yet another great post btw!)


  5. Philip of Spain.

    About as accurate as you could get Rob.I believe it started in circumstances where he refused to play once in a home game,can’t remember who against or in fact who was the manager ( that’s understandable ).He just rang in saying he was sick!! His spouting of what HE wants and what Leeds MUST do is nothing short of disrespect to his employers,and even worse the fans.I always notice his rants always take place where he’s out of the country,there’s that yellow streak. The point is, we will always get by without any single player no matter how good.To be honest I’m sick of hearing him whinging.!!Should he stay or should he go? It used to be a no brainer in his hay day, now I think the team could be better without him in his present negative mental state.


  6. I think how you’ve summed up the situation with PJ and the fans is spot on, Rob. It is always sad to see the image of a one-time hero become tarnished, and it would be a real shame if supporters began to think of him – as far as keeping him at the club is concerned – as Pointless Jansson.
    Are we really seeing him become just another of those loan players who Leeds fans readily take to their hearts, delighted by their performances week-in, week-out, only for them to sign permanently and produce displays that become a target for criticism and derision?You mention Michalik as an example, and Sol Bamba would be another. I could suggest Hadi Sacko too, but he’s somewhat different in that his displays for Leeds even before his permanent transfer were often woeful.
    The World Cup has the potential to be problematic for Leeds. If Jansson performs as we know he can it will obviously attract the attention of clubs seeking a rugged CB, and furthermore simply being among international players for the duration of his country’s stay in Russia could well turn his head. Some of his comments suggest that process may already have begun. On the other hand, should things go badly for him it could have an adverse psychological affect as he realises it’s a massive opportunity wasted, his performances in the forthcoming season suffering as a result.
    If, however, Leeds in the next few weeks can manage to acquire the Head Coach and players they are reportedly after there is a realistic chance Jansson will accept that his best plan is to stay put, that his club does have the necessary ambition, and that (with his old mate Kyle Bartley at his side) in a little over 12 months time he could just find himself fulfilling his Premier League dream while wearing a Leeds shirt.


  7. Life is LUFC

    Good piece Rob and I only needed to read it once because that is how I saw him unfolding as time went on.
    Under Gary Monk he was dropped for a game or two and no one could really understand what that was about……IMO it was about him having a tantrum and I also think this was alluded to but never said by either party.
    With TC he threw a sicky. Another tantrum?
    A few times he came off injured and once he could barley walk only to be seen running around like a two year old within a couple of days.
    I reckon it depends what side of the bed he gets out of as to which PJ we see play now-a-days. The rose coloured glasses he was wearing have dimmed and it’s just another the day on the pitch.
    Is it his whinging that set the rot into the rest of the team?
    He just blows hot and cold for me and if he wants to go well get rid because he’ll be no good to man nor beast.


  8. NickB(50yrsLU)

    Well, who knows, he might have an amazing World Cup, we might acquire a world class manager and a clutch of world class players, and Jansson will no longer have reason to chelp, because it will be obvious that Leeds is back in the big time. There again, we are Leeds!
    By the way, I sent AR a Tweet yesterday telling him that I came as close to ditching Leeds for good as I ever have, over the scandalous decision to go to Myanmar. If he dares to take the team to Israel, I will support MU from then on, and burn all Leeds memorabilia. There are certain principles that are more important than a lifetime’s club loyalty.


  9. NickB(50yrsLU)

    Sounds like you wouldn’t put it past him to take the team to Israel. What was your view of the Myanmar decision?


    • I was less than impressed, but I’m far too head over heels in love with this ridiculous football club to let political issues or human rights and wrongs straighten out my undoubtedly warped sense of judgment where Leeds United is concerned.


  10. Reality Cheque

    Pontus wants to play in the Premier League? He would have to up his game so much he would need “the best coach in the world” any suggestions as to which club he would need to be at next season to meet such a guy Rob? Pep Guardiola will give you a clue.


  11. Well summed up Rob. Probably journalistic headlines when Pontas gives warning to Leeds to get it’s house in order or else he is off. That headline made me just a bit angry. It’s all very well running at the cop with your hands in the air when things are going well. However he is one man who should have been shouting and waving and rousing the troops when our backs were against the wall. On the rare occasions our legends had a bad game you could see the anger and frustration and the blood boiling, certainly not throwing teddies into the pot and sulking off. Ever see Brenner or Giles whimpering off? You bet not.
    Jansson let himself down and I would have Kyle back tomorrow and see him go. There are many good, decent defenders out there who would do us proud so it’s up to him. Let’s just see how he does in the
    World Cup. MOT


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