Championship pacesetters win after spy controversy at Derby’s training ground makes headlines.

Result: Leaders Leeds still eye the prize after Bielsa admits Rams raid

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  • 2019-01-12 06:05:11 11 months ago
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Leeds produced a scintillating display to brush aside Derby but the 2-0 win was overshadowed by Marcelo Bielsa’s admission that he was behind the spying incident at the Rams’ training ground.

The build-up to the Sky Bet Championship fixture was dominated by Derby’s claim that a Leeds employee was escorted from the perimeter of their training complex by police on Thursday after “acting suspiciously”.

Bielsa accepted responsibility for the incident in a pre-match interview, although he insisted he had done nothing illegal.

The United head coach could face action from the Football Association but he would have been delighted with his side’s response on the field as they beat Derby comfortably for the second time this season.

Kemar Roofe scored his 14th goal of the campaign to give Leeds a deserved half-time lead and the hosts secured three welcome points just after the restart thanks to Jack Harrison’s tap-in.

The result ended Leeds’ three-match losing run and stretched their lead at the top to five points, denting Derby’s hopes of catching the top two in the process.

Home fans chanted “All spies aren’t we” and “We’re Leeds United, we’ll spy where we want” as the players lined up in the tunnel and the raucous atmosphere continued in an eventful opening.

Leeds appeared to have made a dream start inside the first minute when referee Andy Davies awarded a penalty after Ezgjan Alioski had been bundled over in the box, only to see his assistant had incorrectly flagged for offside.

United continued to pile on the pressure and somehow failed to take the lead as returning captain Liam Cooper scooped Pablo Hernandez’s corner over the bar from two yards out.

It was no surprise when the goal came on 20 minutes, exciting youngster Jack Clarke gliding past Craig Bryson before sending over a cross which was guided home at the near post by Roofe.

Clarke himself dragged a shot wide and Harrison had a tame header comfortably saved by Scott Carson as Leeds sought a second goal.

Derby’s first effort came after 34 minutes when Tom Lawrence found some space midway inside the Leeds half, only to blaze harmlessly over from 25 yards.

United quickly reasserted control with the impressive Adam Forshaw fizzing a long-range strike just wide and tensions threatened to boil over on the stroke of half-time when Pontus Jansson was scythed down.

Derby, missing the influential Harry Wilson, introduced the experienced David Nugent in place of right-back Andre Wisdom at the break in a bid to turn the tide.

But the visitors were left with an improbable task just a minute into the second period when Carson could only parry Clarke’s floated cross and Alioski’s scuffed centre left Harrison with a gift.

Nugent was presented with an unexpected opportunity to get Derby right back in it when Bailey Peacock-Farrell came charging out of his goal and only just managed to block the striker’s 40-yard attempt with his legs.

Derby went on to enjoy their best spell of the game but Leeds remained a threat on the break and twice went close through substitute Jamie Shackleton and the irrepressible Clarke.

The teenage winger was given a standing ovation as he was substituted and Leeds comfortably played out the final 10 minutes to record a much-needed win.

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Result: Leaders Leeds still eye the prize after Bielsa admits Rams raid

FA to investigate after Bielsa admits responsibility for spying incident

The Football Association is investigating after Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa admitted “full responsibility” for the spying incident at Derby’s training ground.

The Rams’ trip to Elland Road to face the Sky Bet Championship leaders on Friday night was overshadowed after a man was caught outside Derby’s training ground on Thursday.

Derbyshire Police were forced to intervene and it was alleged that the man was an employee of Leeds who was spying on their opponents’ preparations.

After speaking to Bielsa over the phone, and the Argentinian admitting it in an interview prior to the game, Rams boss Frank Lampard suggested his club would not be making a complaint and would leave the matter in the hands of the authorities.

👉 https://t.co/Lz23UJnzQJ pic.twitter.com/lADjJeQaD7

Derby County (@dcfcofficial) January 11, 2019

Shortly after an FA spokesperson announced: ”We are aware of the incident at Derby County’s training ground and we will be investigating the matter.”

Asked by Sky Sports if he would be making a complaint, angry Lampard had said: “I don’t think we need to, because he’s admitted it so it’s easily dealt with.

“We had somebody the day before our first game against them which we lost 4-1. Now Leeds can beat you 4-1, they’re a fantastic team, but we had somebody in the bushes that day, twice this season now…”

Bielsa had earlier admitted it was something he had done previously but Lampard was not interested in discussing any potential cultural differences which might see such incidents become more frequent in this country.

🍿🍿🍿 pic.twitter.com/O55HJnsxYC

— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) January 11, 2019

The former England midfielder said: “I don’t care if it’s cultural. Because if it’s cultural and it happens in another country, if I’m lucky enough to do well and a possibility comes up later in my managerial career, when I travel to that country I will find out what the etiquette is – and I will abide by it.”

The EFL had earlier released a statement suggesting it was still awaiting an official complaint from Derby, but Bielsa’s pre-match comments could see its stance revisited after he admitted to sending someone to the Moor Farm complex.

The Leeds boss said: “It’s true there was someone from Leeds United, the responsibility of this is (down to) me, I am responsible.

“It doesn’t matter if this is legal, illegal, right or wrong. For me it’s enough that Frank Lampard and Derby County felt it was not the right thing to do. I didn’t behave well.

Marcelo Bielsa admitted he sent a Leeds employee to the Derby training ground
Marcelo Bielsa admitted he sent a Leeds employee to the Derby training ground (Joe Giddens/PA)

“Yesterday I talked to Frank 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 Leeds United for permission to do it. Without trying to find a justification, I have been using this kind of practice since qualification 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.”

An EFL spokesperson earlier said: “We are aware of the reports in relation to an incident at the training ground of Derby County.

“It is, of course, up to Derby County as to how they progress this matter but as of yet we have received no complaint or contact from the club.”

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Bielsa has damaged his and Leeds’ reputation with ‘disgusting’ actions – Andrews

Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa has come in for heavy criticism after admitting he was the mastermind behind the spy row that has overshadowed his side’s fixture against Derby.

Ahead of their Sky Bet Championship clash on Friday night, the Rams claimed that a man who was escorted from the perimeter of their training ground on Thursday after “acting suspiciously” was, in fact, a Leeds employee.

Bielsa, who has guided Leeds to the top of the Championship, has taken responsibility for the act, leading former Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews to claim the Argentinian has damaged his reputation.

In his role as a pundit for Sky Sports, Andrews said: “It’s madness, initially there was a comical value to it, someone skulking around the training ground – but it’s disgusting really.

“It’s not how things are done here, it’s not illegal but he (Bielsa) absolutely has to change. Tactically he has had a lot of plaudits, people talking him up big-time, had lots of praise – but he’s got to take this on the chin.

“I don’t think he gives a damn, to be honest. He’s unflustered by it, taken the brunt of it for the football club but the way I look at it…it’s disgusting.

“I think this has damaged his reputation. He’s galvanised this club and transformed the way they played but now his reputation and that of the club has been severely tarnished.”

Former Derby striker Darren Bent accused Bielsa of “cheating” – although he questioned what Leeds stood to gain by the former Argentina and Chile boss’ actions.

He said on Sky Sports: “What more can he get that he’s not seen already this season? I’m not sure what he gets from a training session the day before they play.

“I don’t think he realises the flak he’s gonna take for this. We’re talking about someone cheating, that’s what he’s done, to try to get an edge.”

Joint Chester manager Anthony Johnson defended Bielsa’s conduct, though, writing on Twitter: “Fair play to Bielsa for taking full responsibility when he could have thrown someone else under the bus and played daft!

“Personally I love the way rugby do it by announcing teams up to 48hrs before a game – ‘There you go, there’s our team. Stop us if you can’.”

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