Pontus Jansson stuck his neck out last night by insisting Leeds United would make the play-offs and claiming clubs above them “were going to start to shake” on a potentially decisive weekend.
The centre-back said he was “200 per cent” confident of finishing in the Championship’s top six despite overwhelming odds against a Leeds squad whose chance of promotion is threatening to slip away.
United, who lie seventh in the table with two games to play, are attempting to overturn a three-point gap to Fulham and will kick-off against Norwich City at Elland Road tomorrow knowing defeat will rule them out of contention for the play-offs.
Leeds were 11 points clear of Fulham in the first week of March, albeit at a time when the West London club held games in hand, but a damaging run since last month’s international break leaves Garry Monk’s side dependent on results elsewhere.
Fulham host Brentford tomorrow while Sheffield Wednesday, who are five points better off than Leeds, travel to Ipswich Town.
Reading, the only other top-six side who United can catch, play Wigan at the Madejski Stadium.
But Jansson attempted to shift the pressure away from Leeds, saying: “I’m not sitting here and talking s***. I really believe that we’re going to be in the play-offs and that other teams are going to start to shake a bit.
“I’m 200 per cent (confident). I can’t say I feel something else. The other teams are going to have tough games and there’s a chance that they’ll have zero points after these games.
“I really believe it. We’re going to be promoted and we’re going to the play-offs. That’s the thought in my mind right now. We’re going to be in the play-offs.”
Leeds slipped out of the top six over the Easter weekend and lost their initiative completely after a 2-1 defeat at Burton Albion last Saturday.
I really believe it. We’re going to be promoted and we’re going to the play-offs. That’s the thought in my mind right now.Leeds United’s Pontus Jansson
A favourable weekend could nonetheless throw the play-off positions open again with Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday due to meet at Hillsborough on the last day of the season.
“Everything is possible,” Jansson said. “We’ve put ourselves in a difficult position, a position that we didn’t want to be in because we wanted to be in the play-offs already, but it’s time for us to hunt the other teams.
“Sheffield and Fulham have two tough games and they have to win. We know that we are strong at Elland Road and I think we can take the three points in that game and then we take care of Wigan (on the final day).”
Monk, who will be without injured captain Liam Bridcutt again, is also crossing fingers that Leeds can extend the fight beyond the clash with Norwich.
“The chance is slimmer than it was before but our duty is to win this game and take it to the last game,” the club’s head coach said. “This squad deserve that.”
Jansson, meanwhile, gave Leeds a welcome shot in the arm by appearing to rule out suggestions that he might leave Elland Road this summer.
The on-loan Torino centre-back is due to join United permanently when his season-long deal from Italy expires at the end of June and Leeds have already finalised a fee with Torino. A three-year contract with Jansson was agreed in January.
The defender’s agent, Martin Dahlin, was quoted in the Swedish press last week as saying that Jansson was intent on playing in the Premier League next season and Southampton have been linked with him regularly since the turn of the year.
But Jansson said: “My future is in Leeds, of course. My contract starts in July and that’s the only thing I can say.
“You can see how happy I am to play here and every time I go out to play a game for Leeds I always give more than 100 per cent. No-one can say something else. I’m really proud to be here and play for Leeds.
“There’s no reason for me to speculate about other clubs and I haven’t done that either. There was an article in a Swedish newspaper where my agent said something but I don’t put any focus on it. This is not the first time in my career that there has been speculation about me. I’m a person that doesn’t care so much about that type of thing.”