Marcelo Bielsa angry after “ignorant” Spygate question as Leeds United prepare for Derby County play-off showdown

IPSWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 05: Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Ipswich Town and Leeds United at Portman Road on May 5, 2019 in Ipswich, England. (Photo by Hannah Fountain - CameraSport via Getty Images)
IPSWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 05: Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Ipswich Town and Leeds United at Portman Road on May 5, 2019 in Ipswich, England. (Photo by Hannah Fountain - CameraSport via Getty Images)

An angry Marcelo Bielsa hit back at a question about ‘Spygate’ and branded it “ignorant” as he and Leeds United prepared to renew hostilities with Derby County in the Championship play-offs.

Bielsa gave a hostile response to a query about whether he planned to spy on Derby’s training sessions again after the final round of Championship fixtures paired the teams together in this month’s semi-finals.

United finished third in the table after a 3-2 defeat to Ipswich Town today while Derby held onto sixth place with a home win against West Bromwich Albion.

Leeds and County became embroiled in a bitter dispute in January after a member of Bielsa’s coaching team was spotted outside Derby’s training ground the day before the Rams lost 2-0 at Elland Road.

United were forced to apologise and pay a fine of £200,000 by the EFL. The governing body plans to introduce a new rule governing the privacy of training facilities later this summer.

Bielsa revealed on Friday that the personally paid Leeds’ £200,000 fine, saying it was “his responsibility” after he admitted to sending staff to watch every team in the Championship train.

At his press conference after Leeds’ defeat to Ipswich, Bielsa was asked if he planned to renew his pre-match scouting tactic ahead of the play-off with County, which starts next Saturday.

A visibly furious Bielsa replied: “You know that it’s a crime to Spy? Do you know that?

“When you have a level of ignorance and you work as a journalist, when you have the right to ask questions, when you’re lying in your answers, when you don’t assume the irony and you keep telling me that you don’t know if spying is a crime or not, you deserve a response without any content.

“You make your question knowing that observing an opponent is now sanctioned. You know this perfectly and that’s why you ask this question. Then you deny the fact that you know the answer and you know I received a sanction because of it. That’s why I don’t understand that question.”

When it was put to Bielsa that he lacked a sense of humour, United’s head coach said: “Is it a joke? If it was a joke I didn’t understand it. It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humour. It’s that you’re not funny.”