Bielsa award is not fair play, says Lampard
Manager points to Leeds coach’s role in ‘Spygate’ Derby drop Lawrence and Bennett after crash
Frank Lampard has questioned the decision to give Marcelo Bielsa a fair play award this week, having been caught up in the “Spygate” row with the Leeds United manager last season.
Bielsa and his squad were honoured at Fifa’s annual awards ceremony in Milan for allowing Aston Villa to equalise after Leeds had scored while Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia was injured.
Lampard, though, believes Bielsa’s behaviour earlier in the season should have been taken into consideration. The Chelsea manager was in charge at Derby last January when a Leeds employee was caught observing a training session, prompting a £200,000 fine for the Yorkshire club while Bielsa – who paid the fine himself – later admitted to spying on other opponents.
The issue remained contentious and the Derby players referenced the incident in their celebrations when they beat Leeds in the Championship play-off semi-final.
“I think everyone had the same reaction because Spygate attracted a lot of news and I think quite rightly so,” Lampard said. “It got dealt with in the right way, so when you go and give an award for fair play in the same year, then I don’t think it’s right, to be straight.
“I did smile. I don’t know who votes for it. Everyone knows what happened with Spygate is well documented. The rules changed slightly because of it and they were fined. I felt it was improper. To get a fair play award off the back of that, I thought it was irony at first.
“It seemed strange to me. To me it was a dead rubber versus Villa. The ball slowed down to the point of the ball going out and it was quite right they allowed Villa to score. That was that. It was a strange decision for them to win that.”
Meanwhile, Phillip Cocu has axed disgraced pair Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett from his Derby squad today. Cocu, the head coach, has told Lawrence and Bennett they will not be selected after their arrests for drink-driving this week.
Lawrence and Bennett were charged by police on Tuesday night after a collision on the A6, which resulted in club captain Richard Keogh suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
Derby’s squad had been on a team bonding session, but the night turned into a disaster when two vehicles, driven by Lawrence and Bennett, crashed in Allestree. Keogh was in the back seat of Lawrence’s Range Rover Sport and is in danger of his career being ended.
Cocu held talks with chairman Mel Morris yesterday and it was decided that Lawrence and Bennett would not be involved in the game at Pride Park today. Both players are due in court on Oct 15.
It is understood there are serious concerns within the club over Lawrence’s state of mind, after the death of his mother, Deborah, last year.
Cocu said: “It’s been a hard and difficult time, we cannot overestimate what he is going through.”
Still got it: Frank Lampard competes with Cesar Azpilicueta (left) in training as Chelsea prepare to face Brighton today