Frank Lampard gives honest verdict on Leeds United Spygate saga as Marcelo Bielsa relationship addressed

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Leeds United and Derby County were fierce rivals during the Argentinian's first year in charge at Elland Road.

Frank Lampard insists he 'wasn't that bothered' by Leeds United spying on Derby County's training sessions under Marcelo Bielsa, adding that he holds the Argentinian in high esteem and was proud to come up against such a special coach.

Derby were locked in a heated rivalry with Leeds during Bielsa's first year in charge at Elland Road, following revelations that one of his coaches had been watching training sessions from a public footpath just outside of their facility. Leeds were fined £200,000 by the EFL - an amount Bielsa insisted he pay personally - and drew criticism from Lampard in particular, who said it went against the values of the English game.

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Leeds had the better of Derby that season, beating them home and away in the regular season before leaving Pride Park with a 1-0 advantage in their play-off semi-final. But a chaotic evening at Elland Road saw Lampard's side win 4-2 and progress to the final, where they lost to Aston Villa.

“It felt like a success, I was proud of that,” Lampard told the Unfiltered Podcast of that victory over Leeds. “We went to Leeds and beat an amazing Leeds team, they were brilliant, they beat us three times, and it was special for me as a coach to go up to one of the greatest modern day coaches. In terms of ideas, he’s a great coach.

“He was unique. We played them in my second game. He came into the office and he was fine, but he didn’t speak the language at all. He was different to what I’m used to. I respected his quirkiness, he was really intelligent in a football sense, complete respect for him up until beating them. Even with the Spygate stuff, that story ran away, at the time I wanted to say something about it, but I wasn’t that bothered. I defended myself and defended the club as I saw it.”

The intense criticism of Bielsa during that period forced him to call an emergency press conference at Thorp Arch, with many believing a resignation was on the cards. Instead, the Whites boss spent more than an hour presenting all his research and analysis in what has become an infamous moment during his time in West Yorkshire.

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Lampard quipped that his side 'do analysis too' in the aftermath but the former England midfielder has since swatted away attempts to bring the saga back to the surface. He and Bielsa faced off again as Premier League opponents in February 2022 when the former was in charge of Everton, a game the Toffees won 3-0.