Marcelo Bielsa has told his Leeds United side not to kick the ball out if Derby County’s players go down injured this weekend following the furore over Mateusz Klich’s goal against Aston Villa.
Bielsa and his squad have agreed to play to the whistle and leave any decision on when to stop Saturday’s game to the referee in the wake of Klich’s disputed finish against Villa last month.
The United head coach conceded again that Klich’s strike in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa - quickly cancelled out when Bielsa allowed Albert Adomah to walk in an equaliser - should not have been scored but said his team would now “adapt 100 per cent to the rules”.
Regulations in England allow referees to stop a match only if a player is suffering from a head injury. Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia was down with a calf problem when Klich struck, although Bielsa accepted that Tyler Roberts had caused Villa to stop by indicating that he might send the ball into touch.
Bielsa plans to inform referee Craig Pawson, Derby manager Frank Lampard and captain Richard Keogh of his plan and said he expected County to take the same approach in this weekend’s Championship play-off semi-final at Pride Park.
“We reached a common decision with the players and we decided to adapt 100 per cent to the rules,” Bielsa said.
“We understand that if we have a player down then the opponents don’t have to play the ball off the pitch. We also think that if a player from the opponent is down we shouldn’t interrupt the play and kick the ball out.
“We all know that the person who has to take this decision is the referee. We don’t want to disappoint anyone, our fans, their fans or the other team because it’s what the rules say.
“The rules say the person who has to make the decision is the referee and this has nothing to do with the Aston Villa situation because we feinted that we were going to put the ball out and didn’t. We just want to find a solution to this doubt.
“We’ll tell the referee and the head coach and captain of Derby that we’ll behave like this, which is by the rules.”
Bielsa was widely credited for his sportsmanship after telling his players to allow Adomah to score unopposed a few minutes after Klich’s strike but the controversy came at a cost as striker Patrick Bamford incurred a two-match ban for deceiving referee Stuart Atwell in sending off Anwar El Ghazi amid scuffling between the two sets of players.
“By behaving by the rules we don’t want to make people disappointed,” Bielsa said. “We don’t expect the opponent to solve the situation. If we have a man down we won’t ask them to put the ball out.
“It would be unjustified to do this because it’s the referee’s decision. We will do exactly the same in the opposite situation. I think we are doing the right thing and I hope I’m not wrong.”