Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson did not assure fans of his future at the club recently, when asked about next season by Expressen in his homeland. The centre-back stated:
“We’ll see what’s happening, I want to hear from the club how to look next year and so on.”
It was certainly not a ringing endorsement from a player who, last summer, was linked with some top Premier League teams.
But not many of them would take Jansson based on his form this season. Without his centre-back partner Kyle Bartley, who returned to Swansea City after the expiry of his loan deal, Jansson has struggled.
Yet Leeds fans know exactly how good a focused and inspired Jansson can be. Perhaps one way to hand him that impetus is to hand him the Leeds captaincy. When Sweden take on Romania tonight in an international friendly, Jansson will lead out his nation. Yet, at Leeds, Liam Cooper is an unpopular wearer of the armband.
Jansson will probably be wondering why he is not the captain at Leeds in the first place. Many a footballer in Jansson’s shoes would have felt aggrieved not to get the armband in the summer. Given his excellent leadership skills and good relationship with the fans he seemed an obvious choice. But for some Jansson is too emotional, too rash and lacking in the composure to lead the side.
However, maybe the armband is the solution to many of the problems. Jansson is a personality that thrives on responsibility. Giving him the armband could make the Swede focus on his performances more and perhaps he could lift some of those around him to another level.
Cooper is simply not working as a captain. Leeds fans have made that quite clear on numerous occasions this season. Meanwhile Jansson is about to captain a side that will play at the World Cup this summer.
It would seem a shock tactic to hand him captaincy after seemingly hinting at a move away, like rewarding bad behaviour. But actually it would be a challenge. Think you’re too good for Leeds? Take the armband and drag the side and your team-mates back to form before thinking about bailing out.
If he could do that Leeds fans would love him all over again. The future would look brighter for next season. As for his future? He would be relishing the chance to lead out Leeds for at least one more crack at Premier League promotion.
Leeds should follow the lead of Sweden and give Jansson the captain’s armband, and see if it brings him back to life.