Marcelo Bielsa admitted he had sent staff to spy on every team Leeds have played this season but defended his methods and insisted they were not illegal.
Bielsa called an impromptu press conference on Wednesday evening in response to investigations launched by the Football Association and the English Football League into his practices.
Derbyshire Police were forced to intervene last Thursday and move on a man, later confirmed to be an employee of Leeds, after Derby had reported him watching their training session.
Bielsa admitted before Leeds’ home win against the Rams on Friday that he was behind the spy tactics and had called Derby boss Frank Lampard to accept full responsibility.
Here’s the full transcript from the press conference – although it turned into more of a lecture – with a huge nod to LeedsLive here’s everything Bielsa had to say. Enjoy:
I have called this because tomorrow we have the classic press briefing before playing Stoke City and I thought the spy matter would take up time I want to dedicate to the game.
My goal regarding this situation, of which I am the only one responsible – I wouldn’t like to mix it with the games and the play.
And if you allow me I would like to make a summary of what happened.
It’s about watching from a public space an activity that is realised in a private space without the agreement with the goal of both gaining sports advantage and hurting the fair play, damaging the fair play.
I already said I was the only one responsible for this situation. The club is not responsible whatsoever and nobody on my staff is responsible for it.
The person who did that followed my orders and I am the only one responsible.
Many people made an opinion on my behaviour. Many expressing, condemning the behaviour, saying that it was not ethical, that it was immoral; that it was violating or affecting fair play. That it was cheating.
This club thought it was obliged to present public excuses to Derby County. And I was publicly told that my behaviour was not respecting the principles of integrity and honesty which is the basis of the club.
Many managers, ex-footballers and footballers thought my behaviour was disrespectful. The last point of this situation is that the league after a complaint made by Derby County decided to open an investigation on my behaviour. So they will evaluate if I behaved bad and if my behaviour affected the prestige of the club or the league.
One other point I would like to talk about is that I’m going to make it easier for the investigation of the league.
I’m going to give the information it needs and I assume the fact that my behaviour is heard from the most extreme position.
In a few words I can tell you we observed all the rivals we played against and we watched all the training sessions of the opponents before we played against them.
My goal is to make the investigation easier and I don’t think that what I’m saying right now is going to make anything that they are looking for worse.
By doing that I assume the possible sanction of the authorities.
I don’t want to compare my behaviour with previous behaviours regarding the subject. I’ve heard there are other behaviours that affect fair play but I don’t want to defend myself by attacking others.
I don’t want to point to any other situation that is not linked to my responsibility.
Regarding what I’ve done, it’s not illegal. It’s not specified, it’s not described and it’s not restrained. We can discuss about it, but it’s not a violation of the law.
I know that not everything that’s legal is not right to do. You have many things that are legal, but not right. This is true as the fact that all the wrong things you do are not done with bad intention.
Those who behave bad, regarding the subject we talk about, getting information, advantages with what is called cheating behaviour. That’s why I repeat again, it’s not because it’s legal that it’s the right thing to do.
And it’s not because you have a wrong behaviour, that you have bad intentions, or the intention to cheat.
Of course if you observe something without authorisation of the person involved we call this spying. I can’t say this is the right thing to do.
What I’m trying to explain is I didn’t have bad intentions and I didn’t try to get an unfair sports advantage. I did it because it was not illegal and not violating a specific norm. You have norms that are linked to habits, you have norms that are linked to social condemnation and you have norms linked to what the law says.
Of course if you observe something without authorisation of the person involved we call this spying. I can’t say this is the right thing to do but I’m going to try to explain I didn’t have bad intentions. As Frank Lampard said, he doesn’t believe that I didn’t have bad intentions.
He believes I violated the fair play spirit. So I have to adapt to the rules that are linked to English football. Nobody ignores that all professional members of football want to work in English football.
We have some conclusions, we have some analysis that says the Championship is the 6th biggest competition in the world. With very strong arguments.
I have to adapt to the rules linked to the habits of English football.
If the authorities want to protect the Championship, condemning those who behave with bad intentions or affect the prestige of the league, we have to respect the sanctions against those who make mistakes.
I regret to make the exposition that I make now because I don’t like to talk about me because for my job I am overexposed.
I reject everything that is linked to the public. I repeat – as I’m overexposed in the media, I don’t like being in the media too much.
But for me I think it’s important to give this explanation: When you watch an opponent you are looking for the starting 11, the tactics, the approach on set pieces. These are the three main axis that the coach analyses.
When you watch the activity of the opponent, you get this kind of information the day before the game or you confirm the information you already have. Obviously it’s not information that allows you to build a project which allows you to analyse the game. This is not the norm.
I repeat again: I’m not trying to justify my behaviour. As Lampard said, such behaviour cannot be justified. And that he does not accept the explanation I gave.
And he said the information allowed him to know how to train a team abroad one day. He wanted to say I should have gathered information to see what was the impact of my behaviour.
All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent.
So why did I send someone to watch them?
Just because I thought I wasn’t violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.
I would like to explain how the brain of a head coach works, or at least those who work like me. Apart from the players in a club you have around 20 staff members.
These 20 people create a volume of information. Absolutely not necessary. And it doesn’t define the path of the competition.
So why do we do that?
Because we feel guilty if we don’t work enough. Because it allows us not to have too much anxiety.
And we think that by gathering information we feel we get closer to a win. In my case, it’s because I’m stupid enough to allow myself this kind of behaviour.”
In a few words I will tell you somtehing that is not easy to explain, [it] is how we analyse each opponent without having to watch their training session.
This information I will give you is that this analysis has been done using 360 hours of work.
When I say that I know that people laugh at you when you create this much data.
When you have strong data, it allows you to make a caricature of the one who is saying that. I am good at give others the opportunity to characterise myself. I will tell you the info we gather from opponents.
*At this point Bielsa loaded up his powerpoint*
Of each opponent we watched all of the games from the 2017-18 season. The 51 games of Derby County. We watched them. The analysis of each game takes four hours of work.
Why did we do that? Because we think this is professional behaviour. We try not to be ignorant of the competition we play in.
Tell me any game, point to any game.
*19 says a journalist*
This is the analysis of that game. Both starting teams. All the data of the game, taking into the account the tactical scheme of the opponent.
Would you like to see another game?
*Number 12, Man United v Derby says another*
I’m trying to convince you what I said is true. This is the same analysis. We watch the players in the 51 games, those who are still playing for Derby County.
The other thing we do is point out the chances to score, the half chances to score and which team dominates every five minutes. That’s why it takes four hours to analyse each game. This is not very useful.
It doesn’t put you in better conditions to win a game. But the way to respect the way football receives you is to make the effort to know the players and the teams.
I can’t speak English, but I can speak about the 24 teams of the Championship.
The only goal of this is to see what were the positions of the players still in Derby from last year.
We also do video analysis where we register the goals, chances, and that’s why it takes four hours to analyse the game. It’s a process, a way to get to know the opponent.
This document allows us to know if one player has missed some games, if another has played or missed games. We see for example, he played against us then not anymore and we can express all these parameters with this graphic. I feel ashamed to have to tell you all this.
Let’s talk about the analysis that Derby played this season.
They played 31 games. 49% they used a 4-3-3 system with No.8 [Mason Mount] on the right. In 22% a 4-3-3- but with the No.8 on the left. Same for the 4-2-1-3, with the No.8 on the right and left.
They also used structures, 3%, 2%, but they’re not significant. Before the game we knew perfectly that they would use these kind of systems.
These structures gives you fixed priorities and we here have the minutes and the games to understand why Derby changes the system and when. If they change the system to keep a result or to try to score.
We also analyse if the changes are to give an offensive profile to the team or to give defensive strength. And if these changes work or not.
We also gather this kind of information. The structures Derby play against.
Why do we look at this? The idea is to try to observe what is the most difficult structure for them to face?
I would to explain that all this information, I don’t memorise it. All the information that this report has responds to the questions I have asked myself over the last 30 years.
If you ask me the most difficult system for Derby to play against, I don’t have it in my mind. I can ask and look at the document.
I know I have the answer. We gather all this information from the 31 games.
Give me a number please. I’m doing this because I consider you don’t believe me. I want to give you factual elements to convince you I’m telling the truth.
Give me a number of I’ll carry one.
*Number 27 – v Bristol City*
This is the tactical analysis. This is the document. Have a look. The analysis of chances, goals, domination. We see in each segment of 5 minutes, who dominates and if they create chances.
Now lets have a look at the video of this game. We know what this player will do when he raises both hands. I know that and so do all the Championship head coaches.
This same game, in order to make our players understand it, we put the name of each player – a player cannot watch more than 10 or 15 minutes. If you don’t help a player with the rival’s name, you cannot analyse each player.
*Bielsa then showed a video*
As you can see, you have 40 minutes of offensive action from Derby from 31 games. When you see 41 minutes of attack, you see what is the path for the opponent to attack.
And if you do the same thing analysing what were the chances considered by Derby County, you see the defensive weaknesses that they do. Our goal is to sum up in seven or eight minutes to show to the player how Derby attack.
We also make a seven or eight minutes video showing the defensive weaknesses.
The goal of this analysis is to allow our players to have an idea of the opponent in 15 minutes.
We know Derby for 90% of the game use four systems. Here we have a table where we see each of these four systems. We see who plays in the 4-3-3. In red we have the usual starters and the second players are the subs and the third or fourth players play less.
If you want to have synthesis of the 31 games of Derby, we have them in this document.
For the fifth system we use, we also have this document. This is another way to see the same information on this document.
Now let’s look at the tactical analysis. These are the players who play in different positions. These are the four basic systems. We look at each player and I know how many minutes each player plays in each position.
Lets look at each player.
He played 1,772 minutes as a left-back and 70 minutes as a left winger.
This player played as a left offensive midfielder, as a No.8 on the left and on the right, a No.4 on the centre right, as left winger and as winger-midfielder on the right. With this info we know his main positions are the first three.
Another player. Wilson. He plays as a right and left winger and as an offensive midfielder on the left. All the data we can have, we have on a document and we know about his past.
This document allows us to understand the question we have.
These are the goalkeepers, the right-backs, the left-backs. This is the centre-back on the right and on the left. We do this for each position. We analyse each position.
Let’s look at the wingers.
Against Derby, Alioski played as a left-back. So who could play against him? No.20, 11, 7 and the player who played the least at the end of the day, played the game actually.
So this is No.9, plays on the left and on the right.
*At this point one journalist apologises and has to leave*
To sum up, these are the players and we have the position which they played. These are the players that were at Derby last year, the left-footed players and it’s easier to just focus on the left.
We gather information for the systems, we analyse to see which player goes in which system. I don’t need to watch a training session to know where they play.
So, why do I go?
Because it’s not forbidden, I didn’t know it would create such a reaction and even though going and watching an opponent is not useful, it allows me to keep my anxiety low.
I’m going to tell you a story. When I was Bilbao coach, we played the final against Barcelona, who won 3-0.
They were generous with us because after the third goal they stopped playing. I was very sad to lose this game. When the game finished I sent to Guardiola, this analysis as a gift expressing my admiration for him.
He told me ‘you know more about Barcelona than me.’
But it was useless because they scored three goals against us. I do this to feel well, I see that this information does not allow you to win games.
Half of the goals we conceded are from set pieces; if the spying was effective, we would have found a solution on this subject. But it was not useful at all for us.
Here we have the analysis for all teams [points to rows of folders].
This is this season, this for last season. This is for the friendlies. We went to watch the opponent.
What I want to tell you is that I want to be judged for my intentions. I don’t need the information I gather.
In my eyes, I feel I am innocent. I don’t feel I’m trying to get a moral advantage. I feel I have done something not forbidden.
I don’t have bad intentions. Is this right? No, I don’t say that.
But we have to analyse the behaviours, taking into account the intentions of the person behaving this way.
The other thing we’re going to see is what we do to analyse the strategic play of the opponent.
*Up steps one of Bielsa’s coaches [Marcos Abad] who speaks about video analysis*
We emphasise the best headers of the opponents and the players and who goes in the edge of the area for the second balls to analyse the opponent.
After we show the report where we come in this report we will try to show the quantitative information about the corners, the free-kicks, the best headers, the people on each of the areas. It’s the same work.
We try to show in each picture all the corners, all the lateral free kicks, all the horizontal free-kicks that Derby made before.
Each ball in set pieces, we show it like this. Each one.
*Bielsa takes over again*
Is this useful? No, because half of the goals we concede are from set pieces.
*Back to the coach*
Finally we put all of the statistics, the quantitative and each of them.
We know if they made 184 corners, 33 were dangerous, two were scores and 12 very dangerous. And 115 were nothing. We know quantitative data.
And finally we make a short video about the opponent’s goalkeeper, where we find some weaknesses. A short video. We see where we can press, the characteristics of their ‘keeper. Obviously the players know who is their opponent.
*Back to Bielsa*
To conclude, as we’re going to play Stoke, it’s hard because they have a new head coach who has played just three games.
So what did we do? We analyse the 26 games he played with Luton and we analysed the tactical structures he used.
I would like to be held with the maximum humility.
I give this explanation to make you understand why I think I am not cheating, by doing something that is not illegal. I know I am not trying to get an advantage. I already have the information.
I repeat: Why do I do it?
Because I think I’m stupid.
This is all, I thank you for you patience.