Marcelo Bielsa took responsibility for a Leeds United employee who was acting weird around Derby County’s training ground ahead of their Championship match, but he was hardly the first manager to use such tactics.
Frank Lampard’s Derby County lost to Bielsa’s Leeds United 2-0 and much of the focus fell on the pre-match build up when a Leeds United employee was spotted acting suspiciously around Derby’s training ground on Thursday.
Upon later investigation, it came to light that he had been sent there to spy on Derby’s preparation on Bielsa’s behest.
The incident has been referred to the FA and they are set to launch an investigation into it, especially since there was a disruption caused in the Derby training ground that ended up involving the police.
Derby manager Frank Lampard expressed his disappointment and disapproval at the incident and resulted in Bielsa issuing a public apology.
“It doesn’t matter if this is legal, illegal, right or wrong. It’s enough Frank Lampard and Derby felt it was not the right thing to do. I didn’t behave well. I talked to Lampard and he told me I didn’t respect fair play. I have a different point of view on it but the important thing is what Frank and Derby think. I am responsible for it because I didn’t ask for permission to do it.
“Without trying to find a justification, I have been using this kind of practice since the qualifications for the World Cup with Argentina. This is not illegal, we have been doing it publicly, we talk about it in the press. For some people it is the wrong thing, for others it’s not.”
However, the situation isn’t as cut and dry as made out to be as it has come to light that the Chelsea team Frank Lampard played in, under Jose Mourinho, also benefited from similar tactics.
In an article published by the Telegraph, Andre Vilas Boas – then Jose Mourinho’s Assistant Scout – openly speaks of going ‘incognito’ to opposition training grounds to pick out any crumbs of illicit information he could for Chelsea to use. It was a Chelsea side that also involved Frank Lampard.
“My work enables Jose to know exactly when a player from the opposition team is likely to be at his best or his weakest. I will travel to training grounds, often incognito, and look at our opponents’ mental and physical state before drawing my conclusions. Jose will leave nothing to chance,” he said.