The Football League Paper
Let’s not get carried away with spy row
IT’S been difficult to avoid news of Spygate over the last couple of days – everyone seems to want to have their say. To set the scene, Derbyshire Police said officers were called to Derby’s training ground on Thursday morning and a man was spoken to at the perimeter fence, but no arrests were made.
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa then said he took responsibility for a member of his staff being the man in question.
Not surprisingly, Derby, and manager Frank Lampard in particular, weren’t amused.
Bielsa said: “I talked to Frank Lampard and he told me I didn’t respect the fair play rules.
“I have a different point of view but the important thing is what Frank Lampard and Derby County think. I didn’t ask permission from Leeds United to do it so it’s my responsibility.
“Without trying to find a justification, I’ve been using this kind of practice since the qualifications for the World Cup with Argentina.” But that didn’t wash with Lampard. “At least, on a sportsman’s level, it’s bad in my opinion,” he told Sky Sports.
“If we’re going to start talking about ‘culturally, I did it somewhere else’ - that doesn’t work for me.
“If I’m lucky enough to do well and travel to another country I’ll find out what the etiquette is in that country and abide by that. “It’s disrupted our build-up to this game.” Our columnist Graham Westley, a very experienced manager, has said it wouldn’t have bothered him and Tottenham’s Argentinian boss Mauricio Pochettino, who played under Bielsa, also didn’t seem to think it mattered too much.
The FA may well think otherwise, but perhaps rookie boss Lampard was a little naïve in letting it disrupt his plans.
Perhaps it’s better for him to mark it down as a lesson learned and put it down to experience.
In a sport that comes down to fine margins, everyone will seek to gain an advantage if they can.
Whether you think that is right or not is another matter, and Bielsa’s actions have left a somewhat sour taste, but let’s not make too much of it.
On the pitch, his team were far too good for Derby on Friday night. And whatever the ‘spy’ saw, it couldn’t have had that much of an impact.