Norwich City 0 Leeds United 3: Jansson back with a bang as Bielsa's Whites clean up on the pitch and off it - The Final Word
AFTER seeing Leeds United move back to the top of the Championship with a 3-0 win at Norwich City, the YEP's Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points and has the Final Word on Saturday's impressive success at Carrow Road.
Jansson back with a bang
Pablo Hernandez was probably United's stand-out player at Carrow Road, bagging the headlines with his stunning strike midway through the second half following an earlier superb reverse pass which led to Mateusz Klich's 21st-minute opener.
Kalvin Phillips also produced a fine display of grit and determination in centre midfield, proving a constant barrier to the Canaries.
Hernandez is an absolute class act about whom plenty has already been written this weekend and ditto Phillips whose response to being hauled off after 28 minutes of his 100th game for Leeds against Swansea is to be applauded.
But as far as Saturday's win at Norwich was concerned, Pontus Jansson also played a pivotal role in laying the foundations for United's success on his first league start of the season following a delayed return to training after World Cup duty and then a recent back injury.
There was plenty of doubt as to whether the Swede would start given the uncertainty about his fitness given the circumstances, and the fact that head coach Marcelo Bielsa had so far only made changes to his league sides when injuries enforced them.
But putting Jansson straight back into the side looked absolutely the right call with the Swede partnering Gaetano Berardi at centre-back which allowed birthday boy and Luke Ayling to shift back to right back.
Leeds eventually ran out very easy 3-0 winners - totally outclassing the Canaries - but the hosts did enjoy a decent spell of pressure inside the first 20 minutes for which Jansson's commanding presence and interventions proved crucial.
In short, Jansson already looked well on the way to being back to his best and any questions as to how and when the 27-year-old would work his way back into the first team have now been answered.
Must start from here on in.
Promotion chances and further additions
Matters are clearly extremely rosy at Leeds with Marcelo Bielsa's Whites back on top of the division - ahead of Middlesbrough on goal difference and already with a three-point cushion back to third-placed Bolton Wanderers.
Yes, we are only five games into a marathon 46-game season but the club's start and opening results - which have come against decent opponents - are both impossible to ignore.
In what looks like an unspectacular division, Leeds are now as short as 3-1 favourites to win the division ahead of Middlesbrough who are as short as 7-2 with West Brom next at around 7s.
It is clear given Bielsa's recent words that United will be sticking to their new high-press, free-flowing, energetic and attacking football - no plan B - and that spells trouble for the rest of the league as stopping it is looking like a very difficult task.
As has been stated before, the two elements of doubt concern whether or not United's squad will be deep enough to cope with both Bielsa's demands from a work rate perspective and also the natural injuries and suspensions that the Championship brings.
Leeds have only five more days to bring in further loan recruits with the window then slamming shut until January and the club are reportedly looking at bringing in one more player.
But despite the continued feeling that another centre-back option would be helpful, United are believed to be looking at bringing in another attacking midfielder and essentially cover for Samu Saiz at no 10.
That is understandable but it is only hoped that United are not left to rue the decision if opting against bringing in another loanee centre back.
Bielsa seems unfussed about bringing one in - highlighting Cooper, Jansson, Berardi, Ayling, Phillips and Conor Shaughnessy as options - and it is understandable that another quality option would not be happy in coming to Elland Road to sit on the bench behind Jansson and Cooper let's say.
But however impressive United are in attack under Bielsa, a strong defence will be crucial to their success and the more options the better.
There's just a feeling that Leeds are looking very close to getting it right this season - perhaps in the ultimate style of automatic promotion - and something like the lack of another centre-back option would be galling to take given injuries or bans come the winter.
Cleaning up on and off the pitch
Bielsa's style of football has been not just the talk of the town but the talk of the world football since the Championship season started with the Whites and their 63-year-old head coach earning rave reviews from all over the globe.
But a new element to Bielsa as a person was to be applauded at Carrow Road.
As members of the press waited patiently to speak to Gjanni Alioski in front of the Norwich City dugout, Bielsa emerged from his post-match press conference to begin a clean up operation as the 63-year-old began picking up empty water bottles left by his squad.
A few moments later, several members of Bielsa's coaching staff including translator Salim Lamrani emerged with a bin to collect all of the litter.
The away bench area was left spotless with Alioski reveling that Bielsa also demanded the same of away dressing rooms, a pink one in Norwich's case given the club's bizarre ploy to paint the walls pink in a bid to lower the testosterone levels of opposing sides.
But for Bielsa and Leeds it was business as usual and the 63-year-old is clearly an extremely classy individual on and off the pitch, with striker Kemar Roofe revealing in an interview at the end of July that Bielsa was also keen on making his players better people and teaching them lessons on life as well as lessons in football.
That all became very evident at Carrow Road.
Unchanged for Boro?
Bielsa will now obviously make widescale changes for Tuesday night's Carabao Cup clash against Preston North End at Elland Road but surely we will be looking at anothetr unchanged league side for Friday night's top of the table clash with Middlesbrough.
Cooper and Adam Forshaw will still be out injured and while winger Stuart Dallas might be back available following his quad injury, a place on the bench looks the likely outcome for the Northern Ireland international, possibly in for Tom Pearce.
There had been plenty of discussion over whether or not Manchester City loanee winger Jack Harrison should start over Gjanni Alioski on the left flank with Bielsa citing poor service from the left after the Swansea game but Bielsa kept the faith with the Macedonian who served up another lung bursting shift, a goal and an assist.
Kemar Roofe also continues to get the nod ahead of Patrick Bamford in the lone striker role and in short Leeds look destined to be unchanged against Boro, a game in which victory will send them three points clear.
Hugely exciting times at Elland Road.