The way that the Pontus Jansson story quickly developed in the days ahead of his departure from Elland Road left plenty of Leeds United fans confused.
Some fans sided with the idea that Jansson didn’t suit manager Marcelo Bielsa’s team approach ethic given his heart on his sleeve approach to the game that made him a clear fan favourite, others harked back to potential fallings out last season given the Aston Villa game antics and the Queens Park Rangers tunnel issue and Jansson largely muddied things a bit further when praising Bielsa but stating he was sold for Financial Fair Play reasons, but according to former Leeds United fullback Danny Mills, none of the above was true.
Bielsa simply tired of Jansson wanting slightly longer off given his international exploits over the summer.
“The reason he fell out with Leeds was because he wanted extra time off after the summer internationals. He kept asking Bielsa and Bielsa kept saying ‘no’. It came to the point where Bielsa said, ‘that’s enough’. Jansson wanted special treatment and Bielsa wasn’t willing to give it to him. He has a firm plan for the direction the team is going and was not willing to change that. All of the other players, including those who played end-of-season internationals, were happy to come back. Jansson felt he deserved more time off. That was the final straw for Bielsa.”
Mills clearly had no sympathy for the 28-year-old rather glibly saying.
“Absolutely. You are a Championship player and the season starts in four weeks. Get yourself back in training, that’s your job and it is the way it is. You can have all the holidays you want when you retire. Last year, Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Kieran Trippier had 10 days off after the World Cup. Trent Alexander-Arnold played in the Champions League final on 1 June and then for England, and he’s back in pre-season training. That’s the price of success sometimes.”
I can sort of see Mills’ point, but he’s making the wrong references to criticise Jansson here. There’s already a natural imbalance in matches between the Premier League and the Championship, let alone the Premier League season is shorter in general when planning rest and recuperation and mentioning the Champions League for effect is largely spurious.
Jansson played 46 times last season, Kane took in 44 and Arnold 34 – despite being eight years younger.
It’s apples and pears.
It’s also not like Mills’ days with the amount of scientific and medical work that goes into pre-season programmes. Players don’t come back unfit anymore. If that was the final straw for Bielsa that’s fair enough, he’s the manager, he makes the calls – but taking a cheap dig at Jansson’s commitment is wrong for me.