Pontus Jansson admitted to being “ashamed” of Leeds United’s results since the turn of the year and said the club’s players were under pressure to “show balls” after being held to a 2-2 draw by Reading.
An own goal from Eunan O’Kane denied Leeds a badly-needed win at the Madejski Stadium yesterday, dropping Paul Heckingbottom’s side 11 points off the Championship’s top six and prompting some frank comments from Jansson.
The centre-back voiced his frustration at a run which has seen United take one victory from 14 matches, a 1-0 win a home to Brentford, and ruined their chances of making the play-offs.
Leeds appeared to be on course to take three points from Reading after Jansson’s first-half goal and a 56th-minute strike from Pablo Hernandez replied to an early finish from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson. O’Kane, however, turned the ball into his own net on 58 minutes, allowing Reading to hold out for a draw.
Jansson insisted a battling display was a “step forward” from recent defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Middlesbrough in which Leeds were heavily outclassed but United are down in 13th place and no longer in realistic contention for a top-six finish.
Jansson, whose first season with the Elland Road club last term saw a more concerted bid to make the play-offs, said: “At the moment I feel ashamed. In 2018 we have one win and I’m born to be a winner and win games. That’s what I live for, that’s why I play football – because I want to win games. We’ve got one win in 2018 so I feel bad.
“We had a good talk after the game against Wolves.
“We sat down for 30 minutes in the dressing room. Now it’s up to everyone to show balls and to prove if they want to stay in Leeds. They have to show it now on the pitch.
“If you we want to be here next year then we have to prove it on the pitch but I think we took a step forward. We showed more character.”
Leeds were indebted to 21-year-old goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell – promoted to Heckingbottom’s starting line-up last week after first-choice Felix Wiedwald was dropped – for three impressive saves in the first half, at a time when Reading were leading through Bodvarsson’s 16th-minute strike.
Jansson’s equaliser shortly before half-time gave Leeds sudden impetus and Heckingbottom’s side were dominant in the second period. Pierre-Michel Lasogga almost snatched a late winner when Reading goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola drove a clearance against his back and watched the ball strike the inside of a post.
“We played a little bit differently than before,” Jansson said. “We stood higher with the back line and tried to press them higher. With the ball we tried to have more possession. We weren’t ready for their long balls in the beginning and they came in behind us.
“But after my goal we came into the game. We got more confidence and the second half was good. They didn’t create anything in the second half. We showed character to come back into it.”