Some stuff and nonsense has been written and broadcast about Marcelo Bielsa ‘spying’ on every opposing team Leeds United have played this season.
That truly was an extraordinary press conference that Bielsa staged earlier this week. Sadly YouTube took down the video of his statement to the press.
I’d have loved to have been in attendance, writes Vernon Grant, as he went on from that speech and admission of ‘guilt’ to offer gathered journalists a PowerPoint presentation of the precise detail he analyses prior to Leeds playing their games, including before their recent victory over Derby County.
Not since the 44 days Brian Clough spent at Elland Road have those who reported on Leeds seen anything like it.
I have written about how ‘spying’ on opposing teams training is nothing new. Don Revie had his people do this during the Leeds United heyday. Other managers have also been doing the same for decades. All the best managers also undertake deep and detailed research on their opponents.
Don’t take my word for it. Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis confirmed it today at his Friday press conference.
“Personally, I’ve been in the game a long, long time,” Pulis said.
“In the past, you’d ring people up about teams. I remember being at Gillingham in the fourth division and ringing people at other clubs, a press man you knew in that area, to see what team the opposition would play, if they had any injuries.
“There’s always been managers doing that, especially the experienced ones, but they didn’t have the opportunities we have now.
“Research into the way the opposition plays has been so much easier over the last ten years. Today we have so many games televised, and you’ve got tape after tape to watch.
“I’ve got two sports analysts and they just pick everything out of every game. They’ll be up there now, making sure we’ve got everything prepared and we’ll do a presentation to the team later today.
“But what I do is what I do and I’m quite happy with me knowing about it and no-one else.
“I had ten years in the Premier League, and we had to squeeze every pip out of every player at every team,” he said. “Do you honestly think we went into games without being organised?”
“It’s ridiculous to think Bielsa is the only person in the world doing this preparation.”
Pulis went on: “He might be happy with us talking about everything except his team, which at the moment is the best in the league. They’ve been very, very good – they play together and the lad up front Roofe has been exceptional.
“But how could you send a person in with a wire cutter and binoculars? It’s absolutely crazy. I think he needs to start watching spy movies to see how it has to be done properly!
“Joking aside, Bielsa has got to do what he’s got to do, and Leeds have to deal with it the way they have to deal with it. He’s been very honest.
“You bring the authorities into it and it will be interesting to see what they have to say.”
Who Are They to Talk?
This past week, writes Vernon Grant, I have heard or seen the likes of Paul Ince and Dean Saunders suggest Bielsa should be punished for doing what so many coaches are doing. Remind me. How good were they as managers? I have even seen Peter Shilton talk about “the Italian” Bielsa. He’s from Argentina!
It’s a pity so many ex players allowed radio and television airtime to comment do not do their research with the same attention to detail as Marcelo Bielsa. Frankly, I wish he was managing my club.
Jonathan Wilson of The Guardian has followed his career for a long time and this latest article by Jonathan is worth a read https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/jan/17/marceo-bielsa-spygate-powerpoint-leeds-united