Marcelo Bielsa refused to be drawn into a fresh argument with Neil Harris after the Millwall boss branded Leeds United’s celebration of their equaliser on Saturday “a disgrace in English football.”
Harris added to the bad feeling which developed towards the end of a feisty 1-1 draw at the New Den by criticising the reaction of Bielsa’s staff and players to an 89th-minute goal from Jack Harrison.
Harrison’s dramatic finish averted Leeds’ first defeat of the Championship season and saw midfielder Samuel Saiz sprint 40 yards to hug Bielsa and his staff in the dug-out.
The two benches had been involved in an angry altercation minutes earlier as Bielsa took issue with Millwall’s refusal to return the ball quickly for a throw-in. United’s head coach later apologised, saying he had an “obligation not to behave like this.”
Harris appeared to draw a line under the incident at his post-match press conference but in an interview published on Monday, he said: “Their reaction to the goal is completely over the top and a disgrace in English football.”
Millwall boss Neil Harris calls Leeds United celebrations a 'disgrace in English football'
Bielsa, an Argentinian, took his first job in England when Leeds appointed him as head coach in June. His backroom team consists of three fellow South Americans - Diego Flores, Diego Reyes and Pablo Quiroga - Spaniard Carlos Corberan and French fitness coach Benoit Delaval.
The 63-year-old responded to Harris’ remarks by saying the nationality of those involved “doesn’t matter” but he declined to stir up the incident further, calling himself “a guest in this country.”
“I get involved in disputes only when I think that exchanging arguments with the opponent increases the understanding of the public,” Bielsa said. “I have an idea of what we should make public and what we shouldn’t.
“I also (know) that I’m a foreigner and I’m welcome and received by the football of a country which is not mine. These points are enough for me to avoid making any response.
“Everything that happened at the end of the game is clear enough so there is no necessity to explain it. When you act like a savage, you will always be criticised. But when the river has too much water in it, you don’t only draw the conclusion that the river has too much water. You need to think why the river has too much. What are the causes?
“To be accused as a savage, when you are accused of not behaving well, you have to take into account the causes, the reasons that made you not behave well.”
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Speaking in advance of Tuesday’s Championship clash with Preston North End, a game in which Leeds will attempt to hold their position at the top of the league, Bielsa admitted he had been reluctant to hold a pre-match press conference over a fear of being seen to speak too regularly.
“When it’s a matter of evaluating behaviour, what I say doesn’t have to be more important than what anyone else says,” Bielsa said. “We’re being asked our point of view regarding matters which attracted criticism and you’ll tell me that the public is interested in what the protagonist says.
“When it’s a matter of behaviour, the nationality of the person expressing himself doesn’t matter. But I don’t like to have the role of speaking as an important person.
“I would have preferred not to come to this press conference because when you have to talk four times a week, it’s too much. But I have the duty to tell you what I think. I analyse the same facts that you have.
“When you give your opinion you run the risk of being considered as someone who is very important, who is superior to the others. I don’t want this to happen, especially because I’m a guest in this country.”