Bielsa award is not fair play, says Lam­pard

Man­ager points to Leeds coach’s role in ‘Spy­gate’ Derby drop Lawrence and Ben­nett af­ter crash

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Ian Winrow and John Percy

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

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