When Pontus Jansson signed for Leeds United, initially on loan from Serie A side Torino, there were some doubts from Whites fans based on previous United dalliances in the Italian transfer market.
Whilst these dalliances had thrown up gems such as Gaetano Berardi, these ‘jewels’ were countered by acquisitions such as Edgar Çani and the likes of Zac Benedicic. So, in a way, you could excuse any Leeds United fan of that sense of sneering cynicism.
Oh how they were spectacularly wrong, and thankful that they were too. Upon playing his first few games, tasting a slender 1-0 defeat in his first outing against Huddersfield Town at Elland Road, it soon became apparent that Pontus Jansson was not your run-of-the-mill import from Italy.
The manner of his game, the way that he put himself about the pitch and how the crowd took to him was evidence that Leeds United had managed to get hold of someone a tad special. One publication said that the Swede was a ludicrous signing at Championship level, that proved to be the case.
Such was Jansson’s influence alongside Kyle Bartley at the heart of the Elland Road defence that is helped drive Leeds to the play-offs where only an end-of-season drop of form saw them drop out of the top six and end up finishing their campaign in 7th place.
Pontus Jansson – a season review
Before illustrating and talking a little about what Jansson achieved over the course of Leeds’ 2016/17 Championship campaign, I’d just like to stop a while and explain a few of the terms.
- All non-percentage units are in per 90 format: this means that it corrects for a player being subbed off or not playing a full 90 minutes of a game. What you get is the typical expected output over the course of a typical 90 minute game.
- Padj: this means ‘possession adjusted’ and it helps to take into account the defensive output of a player against the time his side is in possession. Put simply,if you have more possession then there is less opportunity for your defenders to defend; sit deep and have less possession and your defenders have to do more.
What does the above graphic really tell us about Pontus Jansson and his 2016/17 Championship season? Well, defensively, as Leeds United fans would attest, Pontus Jansson is a solid defender who, at times, dominated opponents. Whilst not making many tackles, what observers would think were bread-and-butter actions for defenders, Swedish international Jansson as strengths in different areas.
The strength of his defending is that in tackle situations he is not often passed by attackers, only being dribbled 0.21 times out of 1.96 tackle situations – meaning that he is 89.3% successful with tackles that he attempts.
He also is a no-nonsense defender away from tackle situations, as his high number of clearances shows. When faced with a ball into a defensive danger area, Jansson’s first instinct is to deliver it as far away from danger as possible – something he does 10.8 times across a typical 90 minute game period. This number of clearances (10.8) contributes massively to the 16.25 defensive actions (clearances/tackles/blocks/interceptions) that Pontus Jansson made per 90 minutes last season.
But he’s not just a danger-clearing defender, Jansson is also comfortable with the ball at his feet. He has a high passing accuracy (85.3%) and doesn’t play the typical central defender long ball often, preferring to play a short passing game with 89.05% of his passes.
Across last season, Pontus Jansson showed that he was more than just an accomplished defender and a popular figure with the fans on the terraces. He became a mainstay of a Leeds United side that could use last season as a springboard for next season, even if will be a season that Jansson misses the first two games of as he serves a three-game ban for the accumulation of 15 yellow cards.