Marcelo Bielsa highlighted what he called the “contradiction” in a two-match ban given to Patrick Bamford during an impassioned response to the Football Association’s handling of Leeds United’s controversial clash with Aston Villa.
An animated Bielsa said the decision to suspended Bamford for feigning injury but the failure to cite Villa’s Conor Hourihane for a punch thrown at Mateusz Klich showed that the FA “sanction people who simulate but at the same time, invite people to simulate.”
Bamford begins serving his ban while Leeds play Ipswich Town on Sunday and will miss the first leg of the club’s Championship play-off semi-final having been charged with deceiving referee Stuart Attwell during last Sunday’s fixture at Elland Road.
Villa’s Anwar El Ghazi was sent off for appearing to strike Bamford in the face but replays showed that the winger had made no contact with Bamford, despite the forward falling to the floor, and the FA overturned his red card on appeal.
Leeds accepted a subsequent charge brought against Bamford and failed with an attempt to reduce his punishment from a two-match suspension, the automatic penalty imposed by the FA for acts of simulation and diving.
Hourihane, however, received the benefit of the doubt after a panel of former referees failed to agree that his clash with Klich during the same melee amounted to violent conduct.
The midfielder was seen punching Klich in the stomach while Attwell had his back turned amid scuffling between the two teams. The blow did not knock Klich to the ground and was allowed to go unpunished.
Bielsa said: “It’s a fact that Bamford simulated receiving a hit so there is no point in talking about it but you have conclusions which are important to underline because this kind of situation conditions behaviour in the future.
“The obvious conclusion is that if you punch someone and this person is strong enough, it’s not aggression. If you punch someone and this person is weak, it is aggression. That’s the conclusion we have to take from the decision.
“When the authorities take decisions, they send messages which we have to process. All of these interpretations are made because they don’t tell the public how they reached this conclusion or what was the process to reach this conclusion.
“It’s clear why (Hourihane) was not cited by the commission because they look at the subject. It’s not that it hasn’t been judged. It has been judged and the conclusion is that a punch like that is not an act of aggression.
“I’m going to tell you something I shouldn’t. It’s my interpretation. This means that any punch you receive, even if it’s just touching you, go to the ground and simulate that it’s a strong punch because the only way to get justice is by doing that. That’s why there’s a contradiction in the decision taken by the commission.
"They sanction people who simulate but at the same time, they invite people to simulate.
“Remember this. I’m not asking for the commission to analyse any rival. I’m not denouncing anything. I never do that. I only say that this behaviour was judged and interpreted this way.
"Me, as a head coach, I have to interpret decisions taken because I’m responsible for the behaviour of the players in my team.”
Bielsa said he was certain Attwell knew at the end of Sunday’s 1-1 draw that El Ghazi had made no contact with Bamford and claimed the suggestion that the referee might have been distracted by other clashes was “not true.”
Despite his visible frustration, United’s head coach insisted he was not being critical of the FA, saying he had “no right” to attack the rules of the division he was working in.
“There is nothing worse as a foreigner than to give yourself the right to judge the behaviour of the owners of the house,” the Argentinian said.
“A foreigner has to be prudent enough to be thankful to the Championship, that the Championship allows this foreigner to be part of it. The second aspect is not to criticise the structure which you belong to and work in.
“Of course I can be wrong. This doesn’t mean that someone can’t tell me ‘yes, but you ignore this aspect’ or ‘your explanation is wrong because you haven’t taken into account these facts.’ If that was the case I would apologise.
"What we can’t say is ‘this is my interpretation and you have a different one’ because if we say that, we’re all right and nothing changes. Nobody changes.
“Hopefully the conclusion of this boring explanation is that I’m not saying I’m against the norm. I’m just interpreting the norm. Interpretation is an obligation which I have for a norm which is obviously not clear enough.”