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Leeds United 2 v 0 Derby County
SkyBet Championship
Friday, 11th January 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Lampard admits the Spygate scandal didn’t affect the result
Sunday, 13th Jan 2019 22:28 by Tim Whelan

Leeds have been savaged by some elements of the national press over the weekend, but the Derby County manager wasn’t using the spy affair as an excuse for his team’s comprehensive defeat.

For a couple of days there had been speculation over who the mysterious man was who had been hiding in the bushes outside Derby’s training ground, and Marcello Bielsa opted to give Sky Sports a sensational exclusive when he spoke to them as the pre-match build-up began.

“It's true that there was someone from Leeds United. The responsibility of this incident is mine. I am responsible for it. There are some specifics that I need to give. It doesn't matter if this is legal or illegal, right or wrong. I have a different point of view on it but the important thing is what Frank Lampard and Derby County think.

“I am the only one responsible for it because I did not ask the permission of the club, of Leeds United, for it. Without trying to find a justification, I've been using this kind of practice since the qualifications for the World Cup with Argentina. This is not illegal. We've been doing it publicly. We talk about it in the press. For some people, it is the wrong thing to do. For other people, it is not the wrong thing to do.”

It's the old ‘cultural differences’ problem rearing it’s head again, when foreign players and coaches come to England and continue to behave as they would in their own country. In the past we’ve learned that in Uruguay it would be OK for Luis Suarez to use the word that upset Patrice Evra, and for German coaches to invade the pitch when their team scores a winning goal at the end of a local derby.

The fun starts when they discover that we do things differently over here, and Frank Lampard wasn’t going to accept the excuse that in Argentina they don’t think spying is a big deal. "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.”

"At least, on a sportsman's level, it's bad in my opinion. It's disrupted our build-up to this game. People are going to say I'm trying to make an excuse - but I'm going to speak like this after the game win, lose or draw." And later he conceded that the affair hadn’t affected the outcome of the game, because his side had simply been outclassed.

You might have expected Derby to have been fired up by the events of the previous couple of days, but it was Leeds who seemed to be determined to put on a show. The first goal came from an excellent cross from Jack Clarke, which Roofe seized on before anyone in the Derby defence managed to react.

And the second also came from excellent work from Clarke on the right. This time the cross went beyond the far post and for a second it seemed the chance had gone as Alioski slipped, but the ball ran kindly for Harrison, as once again the defence seemed static while our man found space to hammer the ball into the net.

And the scoreline could have been even more emphatic, as we had a penalty incorrectly ruled out for offside in the opening minute, while Liam Cooper spooned another very presentable first half chance over the bar from close range. I don’t remember Derby having a single shot on target, so the 2-0 scoreline hardly reflects our total dominance of the game.

But while there was a lot of praise for our performance from the national press, it was inevitable that the spy scandal would grab most of the attention. Amongst others, Stan Collymore took to Twitter to give us the benefit of his opinion, as if we need a lecture in morality from a wife-beater who has been known to visit ‘dogging’ sites.

“It’s unbecoming for a club of that stature. The FA need to show some teeth over Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa's admission that he sent a club employee to spy on a Derby training session. The authorities have to deal with the case firmly - and I don't mean in the shape of a letter saying, 'Don't do it again'. They have to act now to ensure that it never happens again.”

The Sky commentary team also said their piece, including the quite ridiculous question as to whether Bielsa’s position was now ‘untenable’. It isn’t, and there is no way we’re going to sack the head coach who is giving us our best chance of getting back to the Premier League since we left it in 2004.

In fact, Leeds have contented themselves with a statement saying the club had apologised to Derby County and would be reminding Bielsa of the “integrity and honesty” the club is built on. But we wait to hear whether the FA will be a bit keener to dish out some kind of punishment, though they have confirmed that they are investigating. Watch this space.


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