Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa has admitted he did send someone to spy on Derby’s training, but has not apologised for the incident.
Derby say a Leeds employee had to be removed by police from the perimeter of their training ground ahead of Friday night’s Championship match at Elland Road, which the home side won 2-0 to go five points clear at the top of the table.
Derby manager Frank Lampard suspended training and the Football Association are investigating the incident.
Asked about the ‘spy’ before facing Derby, Bielsa told Sky Sports: It’s true it was someone from Leeds United. I am responsible for it. It doesn’t matter if this is legal or illegal, or right or wrong… for me, it is enough that Frank Lampard and Derby felt it was not the right thing to do, for me to believe that I didn’t behave well.
Yesterday I talked to Frank Lampard and he said I didn’t respect the rules of fair play. I have a different point of view on it, but the important thing is what Frank Lampard and Derby think.
I am the only one responsible for it, because I didn’t ask for the permission of Leeds to do it.
Without trying to find a justification, I have been using this kind of practice since the qualifiers for the World Cup with Argentina. It is not illegal, we have been doing it publicly and we talk about it in the press. For some people, it’s the wrong thing to do and for other people, it’s not the wrong thing to do.
Derby manager Lampard was visibly annoyed when he spoke to Sky Sports before the game, and said the same thing had happened before the two sides met earlier in the season.
We had somebody the day before our first game against them, which we lost 4-1, said Lampard.
Leeds can beat you 4-1 because they are a fantastic team, but they had someone in the bushes that day. The man was asked to leave but it wasn’t followed up like it has been this time.
On a sportsman’s level, it’s bad. If we are going to talk about culturally and say I did it somewhere else and it’s fine, I don’t believe that. It’s disrupted our build-up to the game. People will say I am making an excuse, but I will speak like this after the game whether we win, lose or draw.
The training stopped because the police came on the training ground, then it went away. We were training on team tactics, team shape, personnel, how we are going to press, how we will work off the ball, the fact Harry Wilson wasn’t training would become evident, so the person who is watching will see all of that.
If somebody wants to say that is not relevant, then if tactics aren’t relevant, that means Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino, Jurgen Klopp, all the great managers, are just lucky. If preparation and tactics are not part of the game and quite sacred that you can work on them in your own training ground, then I think they must be lucky managers.
I don’t care if it’s cultural. If possibilities come up to travel later in my career, then when I travel to that country I will find out what the etiquette is in that country and I will abide by it, which I think is a good thing to do in life, not just football.
I don’t think we need to [make a complaint] because he’s admitted it. It’s up to the league to see how they deal with it.