Pontus Jansson is the Big Loser in the Latest Leeds United Transfer Shocker – by Rob Atkinson


Pontus Brentford

Pontus Jansson – a sheepish grin

“It started off so well”, sang Freddie Mercury at the beginning of the Queen classic Save Me. “They said we made a perfect pair”. In the early stages of Pontus Jansson’s Leeds United career, it really did seem as though player and club belonged together. Pontus epitomised the United spirit on the field, he was hailed for forging a link between team and supporters, in a passionate and empathetic manner that hadn’t been seen at Elland Road, maybe since the days of the legendary and iconic Vinnie Jones, whose recent tragic bereavement reminds us all that he remains very close to our collective heart. Pontus “got” Leeds, so we thought – he understood the character of the club and the viscerally emotional nature of the fans’ connection to their heroes on the field. Surely, here was a swashbuckling hero of a never-say-die defender, who could lead us back to the promised land, repelling all challengers, wearing his magic hat with pride.

And then, not quite out of the blue, but in a manner both shocking and unexpected, it was all over. Pontus was gone, suddenly he was no longer Leeds; he had departed for the unlikeliest of destinations in Griffin Park, Brentford. Behold an object lesson, as if Leeds fans really needed one, in the fleeting and deceptive nature of fan/player relationships. It’s all happened before, of course – so many of our United icons have been there one day, sporting an opposition shirt and a sheepish grin the next. Cantona, Batty, Snodgrass, Howson, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all. It’s like a roll call of grief and loss so, in many ways, Jansson’s departure should be no real surprise, simply because it confirms this distressing trend.

Nevertheless, shock and surprise have been among the most common reactions on social media, as the virtual Leeds United presence attempts to come to terms with this latest wrench. A lot of the most heartfelt reactions appear to stem from frank disbelief that it could happen to us yet again. Supporter incredulity, though, always seems to be rooted in a basic misunderstanding of exactly what motivates professional football players. For all that we’d sing to Pontus about his magic hat whenever he went to the crowd after a hard-earned victory, for all the fervour and the feeling of mutual love and a common cause, deep down we should really be aware that this passion and apparent rapport is actually a one-way street. Players, at the end of the day, will have their minds on their careers and the bottom line. And clubs, including Leeds United, will be totally lacking in sentimentality when it comes to decisions on the continuing usefulness of a player to the squad and the team. Once we accept this, the shock of parting – even with yet another terrace hero – should be less.

Clearly, United manager Marcelo Bielsa had come to the conclusion that the net effect of Pontus at Leeds was negative, for all his occasional heroics on the field. Incidents like the one at the end of the QPR league game towards the end of the season, and Jansson’s reaction to the unopposed Villa goal at Elland Road, seem to have made up Bielsa’s dispassionate mind. Pontus was now seen as a negative influence on the squad as a whole. Much the same had been said about Samu Saiz, with the identical result. Those who aren’t on board end up overboard; the team is the thing. If we put our faith in Bielsa, as we really must do, then we simply have to accept this – and move on.

In Save Me, Freddie went on to lament “The years of care and loyalty were nothing but a sham it seems…” Perhaps that’s going too far. But it’s Pontus who is the biggest loser here – not Leeds United.

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15 responses to “Pontus Jansson is the Big Loser in the Latest Leeds United Transfer Shocker – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Ian Foster

    It’s not him going that’s the issue – players leave all the time – it’s the pittance we got for him.

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  2. Philip of Spain.

    Waited for your take on this saga, you summed it up nicely, Rob. There was always something a bit theatrical about Mr. Jannsons personality but couldn’t quite work it out, it all seemed a bit staged. Not doubting his football skill, on his day he was the best. I for one trust in the manager, as I did with H. W. and The Don. I also believe we are going to see young outstanding talent emerge this season.

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  3. Exile in Holland

    Totally agree with everything you say Rob,well written blog. We will miss PJ but life and LUFC goes on no matter what pitfalls befall us.Keep on believing in MB I’m sure he’ll bring us the result we’re all hoping for. MOT

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  4. Iain Alcornm

    In Bielsa we trust. But that doesn’t make him infallible. In my opinion he was wrong to gift Villa that goal. The two situations where a player was prone injured were entirely different. When Villa put the ball out of play, the Leeds player was down laying prone in the penalty area full length across the path of the Villa playerbetween him and the goal. He was interfering with play.
    The other situation occured when the Villa player in fouling a Leeds player injured himself in the Leeds half of the centre circle. The ball was quickly in advance of him as we attacked down the left, at no time was he in line with the attack or interfering with play.
    The decision to gift the goal, l feel was influenced by the previous “spygate” and the manager not wanting further controversy. As a professional footballer it must go against the grain to gift a goal and in the heat of the moment Jannson made a hal hearted attempt to stop it. Thus ignoring Bielsa’s instruction, and signalling the end of his Leeds career. Comments from players since his departure give lie to the statement that he was a disruptive influence. The reason was his disregard of the intruction to gift the goal effectively questioning the managers decision. Was this the reason which caused him to be left out of the play offs, even when Berardi was sent off and it was crying out for a defender ? Also the reason for the solitary sit in after the game. Disagree with the manager at your peril !!!

    For the club to rush through the transfer of one of the best defenders, if not the best, in the championship for such a paltry sum, beggers belief. His value must be at least 2 to 4 times that amount. Mings went for £20 million.

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  5. He could have been our Vinny but instead he’ll be playing in front of a few thousand at Brentford

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  6. Life is LUFC

    you have hit the nail on the head with this one Rob, it is a shame it ended this way but he is perhaps his own worst enemy. For me he did not quite achieve the “Side before self” when it came to the team but I would not take away from him he is a good defender and the best in the championship.
    I do not believe all I read but somewhere in there are a few snippets of truth. I got the impression from the few film interviews he gave whilst saying the right words some feeling for those words were absent and he had a self destruct button.
    I hope his dreams come true and he does make it to the premier league. Good luck Pontus.

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  7. David Wood

    “Those who aren’t on board end up overboard”. Well said Rob. Have you ever seen a less positive transfer photo? I.e. ” WTF have I done?”. MOT. Side before self!

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  8. Reality Cheque

    That’s what happens when egos become too big Rob and is potentially the down side of receiving the vociferous adulation of our fans in a packed Elland Road. As you yourself pointed out in an earlier post, it says a hell of a lot about the player’s “attitude” that only Brentford expressed any interest

    In the bigger picture Rob, I remain pretty underwhelmed with our transfer window so far given that we were perhaps fortunate to secure the services of Bielsa for a second and crucially important season. For instance we have not shown any urgency in replacing Saiz despite 6 months having elapsed and also having sold his most likely replacement Vieira, on the eve of last season’s kick off so all creative responsibility rests entirely on Hernandez’s shoulders yet again. With rumours abounding about the possibility of losing both our top scorer and player of the season, (Roofe & Phillips) and an apparent lack of will to replace Pontus despite our club knowing for quite a while that Bielsa wanted Pontus out we look likely to start the new season with an even weaker squad than last season

    I have every confidence in Bielsa getting the absolute maximum out of our squad but that proved to be not enough last season Rob and if our injury nightmare continues we may well end up as the bridesmaid yet again through a refusal to invest adequately and wisely

    There’s a while to go yet Rob but I would much prefer to be reading about new recruits arriving than endless speculation about selling more of our quality players but I suppose that’s the transfer window silly season and we will remain a feeder club for Premier League teams until we invest and finally sit at the top table ourselves. Fingers and toes crossed Rob. ALAW

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  9. Michael Foley

    Always thought that for good few seasons now “bad apples” were tolerated
    in the squad,not any more,fair play to Bielsa not putting up with these type of people no matter how good they were on the field.

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  10. Another Rob

    He’s moved from Leeds, with the second biggest attendances in the Championship last year, to Brentford, who in the same table are second from bottom. It’ll be like turning out for Guiseley every week, compared to walking-the-walk at Elland Road.

    You could tell by the way he sat by himself after he didn’t play in the second leg of the Derby game (even though he was fit), that he wasn’t part of the group and therefore probably wouldn’t play for Leeds again. Shame, as he is just what we need: but ultimately if you had to choose between Jansson and Bielsa staying, I’d take Bielsa every time.

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  11. I dunno. Modern football eh! Or maybe just football since the creation of the super duper Sky Sports not so Super Sunday Utter Premier League cobblers circa 1992.
    Players with half a dozen appearances lauded as ‘legends’. Players barely capable of playing a simple ‘give and go’ picking up £50,000 a week and getting 50 Ingerland caps.
    I’d have preferred Jansson to stay and we still need strengthening from front to back but , we move on.
    Players and managers come and go with ever increasing regularity and that appears to be the future.
    Modern life and football is rubbish! Still. Big cricket game on Sunday to look forward to(if that’s yer thing and hoping Root gets a ton) and I still believe in Bielsa and the youngsters at ER.MOT.

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  12. I’m not sure the Queen analogy is fitting mind. That band was the Man U of rock,overrated and ultimately shite. As for Pontus,I think we’ve seen the best of him now and its all down hill for one of the best centre backs to play for Leeds in years. I can’t see him doing the post match rituals in front of 40 fans at Griffin Park. Meanwhile as the Italian Ken Bates continues to asset strip the club we’re still left with the BBC. Berardi,Bamford and Cooper. I think its us that need saving.

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    • Ah, Mick. You and your determinedly controversial opinions 😆

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      • Ha ha,I don’t do it on purpose Rob but at the same time it would be a boring world if we all agreed all of the time. I also wouldn’t say my opinions are controversial either,just different sometimes. Anyway,this might be controversial,can anyone remember Henry Kissinger being interviewed on 5 live around 20 years ago when the subject turned to football? I forget who the interviewer was but he asked the megalomaniac murderer which team he supports and guess what he said? “Leeds United,because I have friends on the board there”. Now whoever those friends of his were and i think one could be ridsdale the club went into freefall when they or the club incurred the wrath of Kissinger. Yes I know ridsdale was spending beyond his means but so was everyone else. There doesn’t seem to be any end to this misery does there?

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      • I’ve not heard that one before, but it sounds entirely believable. You’re right, always agreeing would be dreadfully boring.

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