Middlesbrough v Leeds United: Tony Pulis defends Marcelo Bielsa over spygate saga

MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Pulis has defended Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa over his spying tactics, declaring: "You can have all the information in the world, it's about the players."

Friday, 8th February 2019, 9:47 am
Updated Saturday, 9th February 2019, 9:33 am
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis.

Leeds are waiting to see whether Bielsa's spying tactics will result in disciplinary action with the 'spygate' saga beginning when a scout working for United's head coach was stopped by police outside Derby County’s training ground last month.

Derby made a formal complaint to the League and Bielsa then held a press conference to reveal that he had sent for every opponent this season to be watched but defending his actions as within the rules and in any case gaining only minimal advantages.

Eleven clubs, including Derby, then sent a collective letter to the EFL demanding a full enquiry into Bielsa’s admission that he had previously sent scouts to watch every team in the Championship train.

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The EFL and FA are still formally investigating the matter and the EFL's verdict is expected before Saturday's Championship clash at Middlesbrough following lengthy discussions amongst EFL board members.

But Boro boss Pulis is failing to see what the fuss is about with the 61-year-old arguing that every manager has other teams checked out and describing Bielsa as "a breath of fresh air."

Asked if he was surprised that the situation had still not been resolved, Pulis said: "As I've said before, we watch games, we do stuff that Marcelo has done differently but we are still doing it, we are still watching games and teams we've played and this, that and the other, you all do it in a different way.

"He has to do what he has to do and the authorities have to do what they have to do, I am just concerned about Middlesbrough Football Club.

"As I have said, I have got great respect for him, I have only met him once but I have looked at the way he has worked at Leeds and what he has done there and how he has achieved it and obviously people have told us about the way he prepares teams and the way he works.

"He is a very very dedicated man and really obsessed with football and the game so it will be interesting."

Asked if there was a difference between sending scouts to watch a match in a stadium to sending someone to watch a training session, Pulis smiled: "It's all a game.

"You can do whatever you want before a game, when the whistle goes those players go over that white line and they have been absolutely fantastic this year Leeds.

"For all that you talk about his preparations, what he has done, what he doesn't do, the players still have to go out and play.

"You can have all the information in the world but if they go out there and don't perform you have got no chance.

"It's about players, we spend too much time talking about what coaches do and about what other people do and how this happens, it's about the players - the players go out there and they are the ones that win and lose you games.

"I just think it's his way of trying to be as thorough as he possibly can and we try to be as thorough as we possibly can. We will do as much as we can to find out what the team is and what they are going to do and what they are not going to do.

"It's the game, it's been going on for hundreds of years, I started in management a million years ago and I did everything I poissibly could in those days.

"We didn't have the TV, we didn't have the exposure you have got now and I was working in the lower leagues but I would be ringing journalists up or people who had been at football clubs and who knew the football clubs and who knew the managers and who knew the way they worked.

"I would try and glean as much information as I could before these games.

"That was the way it was and that's the way it is and still is.

"The easy thing for the coaches today and the managers today is that you can get a recording of any game you want now in any league and sit there and watch it for hours and hours."

Opening up on his respect for Bielsa and his work at Leeds, Pulis added: "They have been fantastic, they have been a breath of fresh air the way they’ve played, the way he goes about things.“It’s been very interesting for me, as a coach, to listen to people who’ve worked with him and watch his teams play.“He’s different and I find him refreshing. Sometimes people comment about there being too many foreign coaches coming into our games, but he’s not mediocre, he’s top-drawer and top-drawer coaches can only help the English game and help people in this country develop.“It’s been refreshing for me seeing people come in from abroad to enhance our football, not just the players but the top coaches as well.“He’s clever in what he does. There’s all sorts of stuff going on in his mind I imagine.“I’ve always been a very hardworking person who looks at things in-depth and tried to get the best out of what I’ve got.“I’ve always tried to achieve the best results with what I’m given, that’s always been my remit as an individual, to be as honest as I can and work a hard as I can to get the best out of what I’m given.“If you look at Marcelo he’s the same, he works really hard to get the best of people. I had an hour with him after the game and I found him an interesting character.“He had an interpreter there, we sat down and had a beer.“Watching his team he has a got an identity, you can see what they are trying to achieve, you can see that he has got control of the team, they are trying to reproduce what he is trying to do on the training ground.“There is an identity there and that impresses me as a coach.“I hate watching teams and when you look at them you don’t know what they’re trying to achieve, whichever why they’re cooking it you just can’t see what they’re trying to do.“I enjoy going to games when you can see what they have worked on and working to a certain system."