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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Leeds have watched all rivals in training, says Bielsa

Reuters , Wednesday 16 Jan 2019
Marcelo Bielsa
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FA Cup Third Round - Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United - Loftus Road, London, Britain - January 6, 2019 Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa Reuters
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Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa said on Wednesday his staff had been watching all the club's opponents in training this season, after the English Football League (EFL) launched a formal investigation into the 'spygate' controversy.

"In a few words I can tell you we observed all the rivals we played against and we watched all the training sessions of the opponents before we played against them," Bielsa told reporters.

Derby County complained to the EFL that Bielsa sent a spy to their training ground before they visited the Yorkshire club in a Championship (second-tier) clash on Friday.

Following Derby's 2-0 defeat at Elland Road, coach Frank Lampard described the incident as unethical, claiming it had disrupted his team's preparations for the match.

Argentine Bielsa told a specially-convened news conference on Wednesday he wanted to make the EFL investigation into the incident easier by providing all the information required.

"My goal is to make the investigation easier and I don't think that something is going to make worse what they are looking for than what I'm saying right now," he added.

The 63-year-old former Athletic Bilbao coach said what he had done was not illegal and maintained that gathering information on opponents was "professional behaviour".

Using Derby as an example, Bielsa showed a presentation to the media on the number of formations Lampard's side had used, as well as the formations they struggled against, this season.

"We feel guilty if we don't work enough, it (watching the opponents train) allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behaviour," he added.

"As Lampard says, he doesn't believe I have bad intentions. He believes I violated the fair play spirit so I have to adapt to the rules and habits of English football."

Leeds, who in their heyday were three-time winners of the English top flight as well as lifting the FA Cup and League Cup, have apologised to Derby and reminded Bielsa of the club's principles of "integrity and honesty".

Bielsa, who replaced the sacked Paul Heckingbottom at the start of the season, has been a revelation at Leeds with his attractive brand of pass and move football.

Leeds, four points clear at the top of the table after 27 matches, visit 15th-placed Stoke City on Saturday. 

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