Tag : pontus-jansson

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Looking Back At Leeds United’s 2018-19 Championship Season

I would have snapped their hands off if at the start of the season if someone said it would be possible for Leeds United to finish third in the Championship. After finishing third, however, all I can feel is an overwhelming sense of disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong, I saw some of the best football being played since as long as I can remember. There were some fantastic moments including the injury time winners against Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, but everything fell apart when we needed performances the most.

Leeds are falling apart again

The seemingly yearly tradition of Leeds falling apart after Christmas happened once again. Three defeats is all we endured during the first half of the season; we lost 11 times after Boxing Day. The form we showed in the latter part of the campaign was that of a mid-table side at best and our the majority of our performances we nowhere near the scintillating football we were treated to at the start of the season.

Injuries sure played a part in our demise. Kemar Roofe, our in-form striker, spend a decent amount of time in the treatment room, including during the crunch part of the season. Patrick Bamford was crocked, Barry Douglas and Gianni Alioski were crocked at the same time to leave us with no left back and we even had to sling a baby in goal in Will Huffer when Bailey Peacock-Farrell succumb to injury for a game.

Bigger squads may have coped with the ongoing injuries, but Marcelo Bielsa chose to operate with one of the smallest squads I’ve seen since supporting Leeds in the early 90s. Will he want more players for the upcoming season? I doubt we can afford to bring in too many reinforcements even if he does.

I’m of the belief that it was Biesla’s genius that ultimately cost us this season, which may sound bizarre. I’ve never seen such a transformation from a group of players who looked bang average the previous season, going to show the multi-million pound contract Bielsa and his staff command is money well spent.

The players simply had nothing left

One of the football cliches I can’t stand is when commentators state “Player X is giving 100% today.” It’s fucking impossible you dimwits, but Bielsa did exactly that. He managed to get every last drop of potential, energy and skill from his squad of players that they were playing at 110% or more for the opening part of the season. The problem here is that they simply had nothing left when it mattered and reverted back to type.

Liam Cooper, although complete dogshit for the last few games of the season, was a revelation in central defence while Kalvin Phillips went from a player who I thought would struggle to fit into a League One side suddenly became our a lynchpin in the heart of the midfield and is now considered indispensable.

What narks me is how we simply imploded towards the end of the season. How the fuck did we lose to a 10-man Wigan Athletic side that were languishing near the bottom of the league. How did Birmingham City take six points off us? What the hell happened at Brentford to effectively end our automatic promotion hopes?

The Championship Playoff against Derby County was awful. I was a nervous wreck for the first leg and was half pissed by the interval so much was the pressure. The return leg at Elland Road was a disaster. Stupid mistakes cost us but the way we simply handed the game to Frank Lampard’s side was almost criminal, especially as Derby don’t look a good side, as was evident when Aston Villa played them off the park in the final.

Can Bielsa work miracles again next season?

Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa and his magic bucket

Marcelo Bielsa and his magic bucket

Perhaps worryingly, Bielsa openly said that he does not believe he can get the same performances out of this same group of players again. It was almost a once in a lifetime opportunity, players who are decent but nowhere near the best in the league all coming together and playing at their full potential, or better, much like when Leicester City did the unthinkable and won the Premier League.

The genius Argentinian has put pen to paper on a new one-year contract and that for me is interesting. Biesla knows he needs fresh blood in the squad yet our owner has said it will be a difficult summer for transfer dealings, suggesting the coffers are empty. Yet Bielsa has signed on the dotted line meaning he has either being told he will be able to bring in some new faces and, perhaps more importantly, that some of the crown jewels won’t have to be sold to balance the books.

I’d expect quite a few of the out of favour players to leave the club on a free or be shipped out on loan for another season to free up some space on the wage bill. Hopefully, we can convince some of the better players to stick around for another long, arduous campaign. The likes of Pontus Jansson, Phillips, Roofe and Jack Clarke are likely to have a lot of interest in them. Here’s to the lure of the Premier League not being too strong for them and the will to complete their unfinished business keeping at LS11.

Optimism fills the air at the moment, yet Leeds fans know to always edge on the side of caution. If, and it is a big if right now, we managed to keep hold of the nucleus of the current squad, add a central defender, a proper number 10, a winger who ca actually beat a man and put the ball into the box and maybe a half decent striker then we could quite easily go up automatically.

If the squad is asset stripped and Bielsa isn’t backed in the transfer market, not only could the 2019-20 season be awful, it could be without Bielsa at the helm and then Leeds will be falling apart again.

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Leeds United’s Destiny is in its Own Hands

There are only nine games remaining in the Championship and Leeds United are, for once, in control of their own destiny when it comes to gaining promotion to the promised land, otherwise known as the Premier League.

I’ve been a Leeds fan for almost 30-years and have experienced the ups and down featured in Marching On Together, although I don’t recall ever being as nervous as I am right now. Things looked great under Garry Monk before the old Leeds are falling apart again came true and we didn’t even finish in the playoffs.

Then Thomas Christiansen, who seemed like a nice bloke, lost the plot and we turned to shit. Now we have King Bielsa at the helm and we actually look like a team capable of promotion.

King Marcelo Bielsa

King Marcelo Bielsa

We’re Leeds United We’re (Almost) Top of the League

As I type away with Storm Gareth blowing a gale outside, Leeds find themselves second in the Championship, two points behind leaders Norwich and two points ahead of third-placed Sheffield United. The other chasing teams are probably out of the running unless one of the top three has a spectacular fall from grace.

The lunchtime kickoff on Saturday against Sheffield United is our biggest game for 15-years. A win won’t secure promotion, but it will put a five-point gap between us and third-place with eight games remaining and all eight of those games being winnable.

I thought we’d gone some way to blow our chances when we didn’t turn up at QPR and fell to a 1-0 defeat. The press, who love to try damage Leeds whenever they have the opportunity, wrote about how tired the Leeds players looked and how Bielsa’s teams always fade in the second half of the season due to the sheer workrate he expects of his players.

With how shit we were, I tended to agree.

A Scintillating Performance

Pontus Jansson has been leading by example

Pontus Jansson has been leading by example

A home game against West Brom followed, a team we lost 4-1 to on our travels, and I must admit I was not full of confidence. I said to my eldest lad that we would either be excellent or we’d be smashed around Elland Road and that I hoped the crowd would be behind the boys after a lacklustre support in the 2-1 over Bolton a week previous.

Fuck me! We were excellent. A goal after a few seconds set the tone and West Brom couldn’t get near us for the entire 90-minutes. Patrick Bamford looked every bit a Premier League standard striker with some sublime touches and runs. Sometimes 4-0 scorelines can flatter teams, but not us. We were immense and it was the kind of response we needed after the QPR defeat.

Many Leeds fans expected a slip up away to Bristol City yet we managed to return home with all three points after a 1-0 win. Three days later, we played Reading off the park and battered them 3-0 in a game that we could and probably should have had six or seven; Reading were fucking awful to say the least.

As mentioned, Saturday’s game is huge and will have a major influence over who gains automatic promotion this season. We’re in decent form but so are Sheff United who are unbeaten in nine (W7 D2) having scored 17 goals and conceded five and not leaking a goal in their last six games, although they have played some piles of shit during those games, teams with the attacking qualities of a quiche.

The Blades will definitely be up for the fight but so will our boys. Pontus Jansson has asked fans to get to the ground early and build an atmosphere. We need to Elland Road faithful to be even louder and ferocious than they were against West Brom because I can’t stress enough how big this game is.

Premier League football is within touching distance and our destiny is in our own hands. Come on boys, make the most of this opportunity and become legitimate heroes in the eyes of every Leeds United fan around the world.

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Nothing Compares to Football

Football stirs up all kinds of emotions during a match. Elation. Disappointment. Exhilaration.The so-called beautiful game takes you on a rollercoaster during the 90-minutes of a typical game.

I’ve had some incredible moments supporting Leeds United. My favourite memory of watching Leeds came in September 2003 when Leeds took on Swindon Town in the second round of Capitol Cup. It was a nothing game to be honest, yet I was still pretty pissed when we were two-nil down and looking like we were being knocked out, once again, by lesser opposition.

England’s Number One!

Ian Harte then pulled a goal back before our goalkeeper Paul Robinson came up for a corner in the dying seconds and headed in the equaliser! I remember it going mental in the stands with myself, and mates Kev and Rich jumping around and hugging each other like a trio of lunatics who’d not taken their meds.

More was to come as the game eventually went to a penalty shootout and that man Robinson ended up saving a penalty that helped us progress to the third round.

“England’s number one, England’s England’s number one!” bellowed around a jubilant Elland Road. The three bouncing lunatics went off into the cold Leeds night beaming from ear to ear with a story that will stick with us if we manage to stave off Alzheimer’s.

Leeds produced another great memory on December 23rd this year when we came from being two goals down against Aston Villa to win 3-2, the winning goal coming in the last minute of injury time. But what happened on Boxing Day was nothing short of incredible and is probably my favourite Leeds United memory.

Two-One Down in Injury Time

We dominated Blackburn Rovers in the first half of the fixture and deservedly went into half-time leading by a goal to nil, an own goal scored by Derrick Williams. The second half was a bit scrappier and Rovers equalised via the penalty spot only two minutes after the restart.

“I can see us losing this one,” I said to my eldest lad.

Low and behold, in the last minute of the game, Charlie Mulgrew put the visitors 2-1 ahead with a cleverly taken long-range free kick. While Bailey Peacock-Farrell probably should have saved it, Mulgrew should be applauded for his goal as everyone in the ground, Peacock-Farrell obviously included, thought he was going to cross the ball in.

“Who are ya? Who are ya?” came the cries from the Rovers fans in the West Stand. My negative prediction looked to be coming true.

Central defender Pontus Jansson, who was superb throughout the game, jeered up the crowd, screaming at his team mates to go for the equaliser as there were four minutes of added time. Jansson played as a makeshift striker of sorts, almost score straight away before Kemar Roofe bundled the ball home in the 91st minute. Those “who are yas” were fired straight back at the Rovers fans!

GGGGOOOOAAAALLLL!!!!

Amazingly, in the last minute of injury time, Roofe got on the end of a Pablo Hernandez cross and placed his header into the corner of the net for his 13th goals of the campaign and what turned out to be a 94th minute winner! Fuck me sideways! Everyone went crazy.

We were jumping around, hugging and bouncing around with those around us. People falling over seats. It was pandemonium; I’ve never seen anything like it at Elland Road and it makes me smile like the village idiot just thinking about it!

Our manager and possible saviour Marcelo Bielsa said in his post-match interview “that is why nothing compares to football.” You’re not wrong Bielsa, literally nothing compares to this ridiculous game.

“We’re Leeds United, we’re top of the league!”

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Jeremy Simpson: Worst Referee Ever?

Everyone is biased when it comes to their football team, myself included. It can’t be helped. It’s a natural thing to side with your team. That said, Jeremy Simpson, the referee at the Leeds United versus Brentford game, was that fucking awful that he’d either been paid off to be a total dick, or had never seen a game of football before in his life.

“Shit refs, we only get shit refs,” is a common chant from the Elland Road faithful because, basically, we always seem to get referees who are so ridiculously bad that you wonder how the fuck they ever got a job in the first place.

A good referee, in my opinion, is one who lets the game progress and only pulls up the action when a major infringement has occurred. Not this card happy cunt, though. Simpson’s performance was that bad that Pontus Jansson now faces disciplinary action after claiming Simpson’s refereeing was tantamount to robbery.

You’re not fit to referee

Simpson is called Jeremy for a start so he is bound to be a bit of a bellend, it’s a given. But when you look at his stats for this season, they make incredible reading.

He was officiating the Sheffield United versus Swansea game on the opening day of the season and nobody went into the book. His next match saw five players receive a yellow card and he’s booked between two and six players in every games he’s been in charge of since.

From the 13 games he’s been the bastard in the black, he’s dished out 50, fucking 50, yellow cards and three reds. Either he’s a complete numpty or he’s been the referee at some MMA fights instead of football matches.

Yesterday was a joke. Actually, no it wasn’t because jokes tend to be funny. Yesterday was a total shit show.

From the first minute he was blowing his whistle, dishing out cards like they were going out of fashion, and giving dubious decisions.

Luke Ayling sent off by the worst referee ever

Luke Ayling sent off by the worst referee ever

Two complete fuck ups stand out from a long series. The first was the decision to award a penalty then only book our goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. The Brentford player was almost on the floor before our ‘keeper got anywhere near him, the referee waited a full 10 seconds before pulling play back, awarding a penalty and giving a yellow card to Peacock-Farrell.

Surely, if Peacock-Farrell had stopped a goal scoring opportunity and was the last man, if you’re going to book him, you have to send him off?

The second monumental mistake was when Ezgjan “Gianni” Alioski literally fell over with nobody with a couple of yards of him and the referee gave us a free kick!

“You’re not fit to referee” and “You don’t know what you’re doing” echoed around all four stands.

Simpson then sent Luke Ayling off for a second yellow card when 1.) it wasn’t a bookable offence because he didn’t touch the Brentford player, and 2.) he let a Brentford player off, who had already been booked, with a very similar offense.

“The Football League’s corrupt!”

A draw was probably a fair result after a bit of reflection, although we did more than enough to claim all three points in the last 20 minutes of the game when we were dominant. Neither side were clinical enough.

While Jansson is bound to get a fine for swearing live on Sky TV — all he said was shit — their player Sergi Canos was allegedly seen aiming a headbutt at Alioski when he somehow ended up in the Brentford dugout. I bet fuck all gets said or done about that, but it definitely would have done had it been the other way around.

We’ve now got a break in play until Oct. 20 when he travel to Blackburn Rovers for another dinner time kickoff. It’s a break that comes at a good time as it allows the likes of Gaetano Beradi, Pablo Hernandez, Kemar Roofe and Barry Douglas to return to fitness; we’ve missed Hernandez’s creativity in the previous few games that is for sure.

Still, we’re third in the league, have the second-best goal difference and look to have a belief that we will still be competing after Christmas. Exciting times could be ahead, is it time to start dreaming?