A BULLISH Pontus Jansson rallied Leeds United for tomorrow’s derby at Sheffield Wednesday by saying the club were “on our way back” and ready for the challenge of coping in a league where “everyone wants to beat us.”
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Jansson projected a siege mentality with Leeds intent on reasserting themselves at Hillsborough after losing to Millwall and Cardiff City in their last two away games.
Tuesday’s loss in Cardiff saw Neil Warnock’s side replace United at the top of the Championship and followed on from a 1-0 defeat at Millwall in their previous league match away from home.
Jansson, who joined Leeds on loan from Torino last summer and made a permanent move in July, said he had discovered that United were “a team who a lot of people hate” but insisted the club would stand up to attempts to stop their recovery.
Leeds have been trapped in the Football League for 13 years since their damaging relegation in 2004.
The club have rarely threatened to regain Premier League status but they came close to a top six finish under former head coach Garry Monk last season and are third in the table under Thomas Christiansen after 10 games of this term.
Speaking ahead of an important derby in Sheffield, Jansson said: “Everybody wants to beat us. Leeds are a team a lot of people hate in this country. I’ve seen that.
“Take Millwall as an example. Leeds are a big rival for MIllwall. You could see that from the first minute there, from the stands and the players on the pitch. We weren’t 100 per cent ready for that. It’s something we have to learn.
“People hate Leeds for a reason because Leeds were a fantastic club in the past, also now and I hope in the future. I always talk about my past with Malmo. People in Sweden don’t like Malmo because Malmo are too good for the others. That can be the reason in Leeds also. Leeds come from 15 tough years but we’re on our way back. Let them hate us, I don’t care.”
Wednesday’s focus has been closer to home this week after back-to-back defeats to Sheffield United and Birmingham City, losses which brought pressure to bear on manager Carlos Carvalhal.
Carvalhal, who has taken Wednesday to the play-offs in both of the past two seasons, claimed he was not fearful of the sack if the club lose tomorrow, saying: “I understand the fast food of society nowadays but I don’t feel a pressure that if I lose a game something will happen to me. I don’t think like that.
“I’m not afraid of anything. I’m very calm and confident, trying to get my players to enjoy the game.”
Jansson, however, believes Wednesday will be feeling tension at the end of a bad week.
“They have to come out now and make a good performance,” the centre-back said. “They’ll want to win and give everything.
“It’s a derby with a lot of people and a lot of emotions. We have to be prepared for that but we have to go out from the first minute and show we want to win because that can make them a bit more scared. They have pressure on them.
“We also have pressure on us but there’s a bigger pressure on them because they’ve started badly. We have to go out and be relaxed and win the game. We’re going to have a plan.
“It’s a derby on their field so they will come at us from the first minute. We have to go out like 11 animals and be prepared for a war because that’s what it’s going to be.
“They’re a good team. (Fernando) Forestieri is one of the best players in the league but he’s injured and a big loss. (Steven) Fletcher is experienced and (Gary) Hooper, but of course me and the team will be prepared.”