Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insists opposition teams spying on one another is commonplace in other countries amid the ongoing intrigue around Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa.
Before last Friday’s 2-0 win over Derby County in the Championship, Bielsa admitted a man questioned by police after he was found carrying binoculars and wire cutters while acting suspiciously near the Rams’ training ground was a Leeds employee.
Derby boss Frank Lampard condemned the behaviour, while acknowledging Bielsa’s honesty, and the maverick Argentinian coach called a media briefing on Wednesday where he outlined the remarkable scope of his pre-match preparations and research on opponents as part of a lengthy PowerPoint presentation.
Guardiola has regularly cited Bielsa as a mentor, having sought his advice before entering coaching, and insists the high esteem in which he holds the 63-year-old is unaffected.
“No, the respect remains absolutely the same. He was absolutely clear in his statement,” the former Barcelona boss told a news conference previewing Sunday’s Premier League trip to Huddersfield Town.
“If I have admired before and he has done that [spying] in the past, why should I change my opinion?
“I understand Frank Lampard too. Both positions are more than understandable.”
| Marcelo demonstrates the analysis his team goes through for each opponent, and how it totals more than 300 hours of work pic.twitter.com/asfGA6Wadm
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 16, 2019
Lampard reacted to Bielsa’s surprise midweek briefing by stating such tactical preparations are “par for the course” in professional football – something Guardiola is unable to agree with him on.
“I saw the highlights, I did not see the whole press conference,” he said.
“No manager around the world works with this amount of information that he produces for every single game, for every single player, for every single movement.
“In the world it is unique how he works.”
Given his intact admiration for Bielsa, it followed that Guardiola was asked whether he had ever employed such clandestine tactics.
“In other countries, everybody does that,” he replied.
“When I was training Bayern Munich there were people on a little mountain – opponents with cameras – watching what we were doing.
“It was cultural for the clubs, not because I said, ‘you have to go to do that’. It was part of the culture.
“I’m not going to send anyone to spy on Huddersfield. If that is the question, forget about it.”
Indeed, Guardiola conceded he will be in the dark with regards to Huddersfield’s approach in their first game under Mark Hudson, following David Wagner’s decision to step down this week.
— Huddersfield Town (@htafcdotcom) January 18, 2019
“First of all, big compliments for what Wagner has done in this club. It was an incredible season last season,” he said.
“He made an incredible job because the circumstances are not easy to compete in the Premier League with the amount of players they had.”
Guardiola added: “When you see one game with a manager you can have some idea. We have some information about what [Hudson] has done with the Under-23s but it is completely different.
“We don’t know exactly anything. We have to adapt after five minutes. The players have to understand what happens in the game and adapt as quick as possible.”
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