THE potential for friction between Garry Monk and Pontus Jansson earlier on this season was obvious.
The Swedish defender was mysteriously dropped by Monk for March’s 2-0 win against Brighton.
“I’ve done what’s best for the team and the principles we work to,” said United’s head coach at the time.
But Jansson showed a fighting spirit to accept and respect the decision and the defender admits the departure of an “awesome” head coach left him shocked.
United are still picking up the pieces from Monk’s resignation which was presented to new owner Andrea Radrizzani on Thursday afternoon.
Just two days after buying out Massimo Cellino to take full control of Leeds, Radrizzani was left without a head coach.
Monk failed to give clear reasons for his departure, saying only that he was unable to agree a suitable way to move forward with Radrizzani who was intent on offering the 39-year-old a new three-year deal.
Monk’s one-year deal was set to expire this summer but Radrizzani had hoped to activate a one-year extension to Monk’s contract on Friday before later offering him a new deal.
The head coach’s departure was clearly not envisaged by Jansson who learned of Monk’s exit via his girlfriend.
Despite a serious test of the relationship between defender and head coach in the spring, Jansson was clearly sad to see Monk go.
“I liked Garry enormously,” Jansson told Swedish paper fotbollskanalen this weekend.
“It came as right shock to me if I’ll be honest. It was my girlfriend who called me and said, when I did not even know what had happened.
“He’s been awesome, a really nice person, a good football coach. He’s meant a lot to many, not just for me.
“He was very appreciated by the players, the fans, the club, everyone and everything, so I have no idea why it was that it was.
“Sometimes, this man lost his temper, it is the simple truth. But he gave me confidence, above all, time for me to mature as a player and person. He believed in me from day one. He has taught me a lot.
“We have had our tussles, but we’ve always had respect for each other and knew we liked each other.”
Jansson soon won his place back in the United side after being dropped for the Brighton game, aided by the fact that fellow centre-back Liam Cooper was handed a six-game ban in the 1-0 loss at Reading for stamping on Reece Oxford.
Monk had faced a selection dilemma for that game – whether or not to restore Jansson to the team – but the defender then picked up a hamstring injury.
With Cooper suspended, the Swedish international centre-back was then back in United’s side for the 2-0 loss at Brentford three days later and the 26-year-old has stayed there since until earning a 15th yellow card of the season in United’s penultimate game of the season – the 3-3 draw at home to Norwich City.
That earned the defender a three-game ban meaning Jansson will miss the first two games of next season.
The defender continues to be linked with a host of clubs in the Premier League but the centre-back is due to join Leeds on a permanent basis from Torino later this summer on July 1.
Southampton have shown a particularly keen interest in Jansson and would be willing to pay considerably more than the £3.5m fee agreed between United and Torino nine months ago.
Leeds, however, see Jansson as a crucial addition to their squad and expect his transfer to go ahead as planned.
But first and foremost the club are on the look-out for a new head coach.
Former Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has been favourite to land the role ever since Monk’s departure but former Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has emerged as a strong second favourite despite admitting on Friday that he had received no contact from the club.
“I don’t know anything about this Leeds story,” Ranieri told Training Ground Guru.
“I haven’t spoken to them.”
When asked if he would be interested in the Leeds job, Ranieri said: “I prefer not to speculate.”
Asked by Swedish media if it was true that there was never a quiet moment at Leeds, Jansson admitted: “No, unfortunately, but we hope that the new owners have an eye on what they are doing.”