Leeds boss Bielsa admits he spied on every Championship opponent this season... including Ipswich Town
- Credit: PA
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has admitted he and his coaching staff have spied on every team they have faced this season.
The Argentine gave a sensational 75-minute press conference earlier this evening in response to the ‘spygate’ scandal, following revelations he sent a member of staff to watch Derby County train prior to their game last Friday.
The day before the game, a member of Bielsa’s staff was spotted at the Rams’ training ground and police were called, leading to the EFL launching a formal investigation.
Bielsa has taken full responsibility for the incident and admitted he’s been watching opposition training sessions for three decades, including every opponent he has faced since arriving in English football at the start of the season.
Ipswich faced Leeds in October, in what was the final game of Paul Hurst’s reign as the Blues lost 2-0 to the Championship leaders at Elland Road. It’s understood Hurst and his staff were surprised at the level of detail Leeds had in regard to their team that evening.
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“I observed all rivals we played against. We watched all the training sessions before we played them,” Bielsa said, during a press conference in which he showed journalist detailed analysis of how he prepares for games.
“I can’t say it’s the right thing to do but I’m going to explain that I didn’t have bad intentions or get an advantage.
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‘When you watch an opponent, you are looking for specific information.
“You want to know what is the starting XI, what is the tactical system that’s going to be used and the strategic decisions taken on set pieces.
“When you go to watch a training session of the opponent, you get this information the day before a game or you confirm the information you already have.
“Why do I go? Because it’s not forbidden, I didn’t know it would create such a reaction and even though going and watching an opponent is not useful, it allows me to keep my anxiety low.”
An EFL statement said: “The EFL has today written to Leeds United requesting their observations in regard to an incident that took place in the vicinity of Derby County’s training ground on Thursday 10 January, 2019.
“It follows a complaint from Derby County who allege that an individual, acting under the instruction of Leeds United, sought to observe a private training session the day before the two Clubs were due to meet in the Sky Bet Championship.
“The EFL has now determined that it is appropriate to consider this matter in the context of a number of EFL Regulations whilst also noting that the alleged actions appear to contravene the Club’s Charter that all EFL Clubs agreed to in summer 2018.
“The decision to progress this matter to a formal investigation comes as a result of the Club’s manager, Marcelo Bielsa, admitting to instructing an individual to undertake the acts being complained of in a television interview broadcast on Sky Sports on Friday 11 January 2019.
“The Football Association has also confirmed they are considering the same matter in line with its own rules and the EFL will work with its FA counterparts to ensure that any potential action taken does not prejudice those investigations being undertaken.”