Leeds United: Leeds can build on defensive '˜steel' says Andy Ritchie
PONTUS JANSSON is getting a lot of plaudits for his performances at Leeds United, but I have got to say that Kyle Bartley has also been fantastic '“ and for me, he outshone Jansson in the Barnsley game last weekend.
I thought that Bartley was great all day. And at the end, he really kept it together in getting his head on everything and was marshalling everyone for me.
To be fair, everyone was telling me that Jansson was the person who had done that before and was bringing the performances out of people with his enthusiasm, if you like.
Jansson did the little ‘step overs’ a couple of times to really get the crowd going also and you need those characters. Let’s face it, there aren’t many characters left in the game, are there.
But for me, Bartley was just brilliant in those last 15 minutes.
Looking at Leeds with those two, they look to have a bit of steeliness at the back now and they have just got to get it going forward-wise now.
That said, they probably should not have had to be worried at the end against Barnsley with a couple of goals lead.
Looking at the game overall, Leeds deserved to win. I know they were under a bit of pressure after Barnsley managed to get one back and it made it a bit panic stations, but Leeds merited it.
Credit to Leeds for changing it a bit in the second half too. They played Pablo Hernandez a little bit further up, so it was more of a 4-4-2, perhaps 4-4-1-1.
They picked up more second balls as in the first half, they were clearing their lines and Barnsley were just picking the balls up again and gaining a lot of possession without actually causing too many problems.
For me, it was a really good tactical switch by Garry Monk for the second half and it changed the dynamic of the game.
Looking at Pablo Hernandez, I think he is the sort of player who maybe is not going to go back to his own 18-yard box and make tackles on people.
It is a case of working around that though as you need flair players – and he is certainly one of those.
His goal was a good one too. I also thought Hadi Sacko had a good game and he looked consistent over the 90 minutes and always looked a threat. I might have even been tempted to chuck him down the middle late on when Leeds were under the cosh.
And I would have knocked it into the corners and let him get on the end of it.
I also thought Eunan O’Kane was great and really busy alongside Kalvin Phillips.
Overall, while not counting the chickens until the eggs have hatched, the signs are good, you have to say.
Jansson obviously looks the part and, as I have said before, if I was a manager of an English club, I’d always look towards bringing Scandinavian players in as they are the most used to our game and the way we play. They are hard, ready and tough.
I saw that at Oldham with Gunnar Halle, who went to Leeds, while Tore Pedersen was a Leeds fan.
They are very suited to English football.
As for a perceived playing style for Leeds, I still think that Garry is trying to work out his own style there.
I don’t know how many times he has changed systems in games, having not seen all of them, but I do think that he knows he can play in different ways.
In the second half, it wasn’t a 4-4-2 as such, more of Hernandez being a bit further up. But it worked.
I do think he will still be finding out things as he goes and still experimenting, but looking at the recent record of five wins from six, things are looking up.
But Garry will be one of the first to know that Leeds cannot get ahead of themselves. He will know that there is still a lot of hard work to do.
But let’s keep our fingers crossed that they can keep the run going.
The international break will enable him to work on certain things, while also giving the players a bit of time off as well as they will need that to recharge their batteries.
There will still be things to work on though and it will give him that opportunity and time as you do not get many times where you can get four or five days of quality work in.
When the season is on, you can do things say one day and then the next day, you are preparing for a game and you cannot keep on it when you want to get into the psyche of the players.