There is a feeling of third time being lucky but add in the manner in which he left Elland Road last summer, abruptly informed to find another club as he was no longer part of Marcelo Bielsa’s plans, and it is no wonder the Sweden centre back feels revved up by the Bees’ recent surge.c
Chasing down what had looked like an unassailable lead for his former club and West Bromwich Albion by winning their first two games back, the momentum is with Thomas Frank’s side.
Last Friday’s win over West Brom, following up on a late victory against fellow hopefuls Fulham seven days previous, has brought a new surge of belief in West London that this, finally, is their year.
Brentford know that a win away to Reading tomorrow evening would cut Albion’s gap in second to two points before they host Hull City on Wednesday.
“From now on we will be favourites in every game we play, so why can’t we go out with the aim to go out and win every one?” Jansson says. “If we lose then we will just focus on the next one. We just need to go out work hard and do what we are good at.”
At the same time he is thankful that his younger team-mates have not experienced the disappointments that he has. Less baggage means it is easier to simply go out and express themselves and he is happy to carry the burden on their behalf.
“More or less only me in this team has been in this position before, which I think is good,” he says. “They can let me think and analyse everything and go out and play. I’m talking to the more experienced players [about it] but in my role as captain it is about [letting] the younger players going out and playing.”
Jansson is maturing before our eyes. The fiery player who arrived in England almost four years ago and promised fans that they would remember his name as he racked up 15 yellow cards in 36 games has evolved into something far more level-headed.
As Brentford captain his reach extends into all sorts of off-field areas. He proactively breaks down the post-match data with the club’s team of analysts, fascinated by GPS tracking and fitness load.
The 29-year-old leads a group of a half dozen team-mates that holds daily discussions with head coach Thomas Frank and the drop in bookings indicates a calmer approach on the pitch, though recent evidence of games behind closed doors suggests his vociferousness has not been tempered.
“I like to be involved in a lot of things,” he adds. “If they don’t want me involved, they will tell me but so far it has been good. Before I would analyse my performances and now it is more about the collective and the team.”
He puts some of that personal growth down to fatherhood and the importance of setting an example for his daughter but he is equally more controlled on the pitch.
For instance, if a head coach had told him to let an opponent score out of fair play this season he would not object.
Jansson was the only Leeds player who objected to Bielsa’s decision to let one in against Aston Villa, the centre back’s penultimate game in a white shirt, last April.
The coach won a Fifa award for sportsmanship and 14 months on Jansson admits that “if it happened now I would 100% act in a different way.”
Really? “Yes but when you’re on the pitch you can’t think clearly. In a game that more or less didn’t count because we were in third anyway, I should have just let them score and it was nice for Marcelo to do what he did.
“Marcelo forced me to be a better person both on and off the pitch. It felt like my first two seasons I was trying to get booked every game, looking to have a fight with a player and dialogue with the referee. Silly, stupid things. But I’ve learnt a lot. It comes with experience, this is a better version of Pontus.”
It is clear that Jansson retains a soft spot for Leeds. The dream, he says, is for both to go up at West Brom’s expense and while there may be some lingering disappointment at how quickly his time in Yorkshire came to a close there are no hard feelings.
“It’s been more or less one year since it happened so I’ve not forgotten it but I am starting to forget it,” he says. “How it ended was very sad, especially how we lost in the play-offs when I was injured and didn’t play.
“It all ended so quickly, you know. One hour later I signed for Brentford. A lot of things happened last summer but now this is a new chapter. I’ve said that from day one. I want to achieve things here instead.”
The contrast between Bielsa and Brentford’s Thomas Frank is fascinating. Both are obsessives renowned for their forensic preparation but when it comes to man-management they are polar opposites.
“Marcelo is never going to be that close with his players as Thomas,” Jansson says. “We have a group of five or six players here who more or less have dialogue or conversation with Thomas every day. That’s not Marcelo’s leadership or how he believes in things.
“Technically they are quite similar. They believe a lot in analysing and preparing well for games but I can’t see Thomas preparing as Marcelo, who watches football 24 hours a day. But Thomas is very good, his knowledge of the game from a tactical perspective, so they are quite similar football wise.”
The human contact element is very much favoured by Jansson but he does not intend for that preference to be viewed as a criticism of Bielsa.
He learnt “so much about how to think about football, on and off the pitch” from the Argentine and is “very thankful for everything I’ve learnt from him.
It was “my best season so far as an individual” and this campaign has been more about developing as a person and a leader and he admits that his form has not been as good since arriving in West London.
“Marcelo is very successful at Leeds so his style of leadership works very well but this style [of Frank’s] is what Scandinavian people are used to,” he added. “I have been close to my coaches since I started playing football. I like being able to talk but I started getting used to Marcelo.
“At the end of the season I was like, that’s just how he is. But I would like to talk to Marcelo every day because there is so much to learn from him. That’s how he is, he didn’t want to talk to me so I just accepted it, but I appreciate Thomas wants to talk to me every day.”
With seven games to go and Leeds enjoying an eight-point buffer, overtaking West Brom is the target for Brentford but the ultimate scenario is clear.
“When I came here I said to the fans that I hope both can go up,” Jansson said. “It is possible but the dream would be that both we and Leeds go up. I’ve left Leeds but they are still part of my football life.
“I follow them and have friends among the coaches and players. Of course I want success for them, just not on our behalf. If they go up with us that would be nice.”