Frank Lampard described it as a tiff that became a great news story but the Chelsea head coach is keen to play down the relevance of ‘Spygate’ ahead of tonight’s meeting with Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United at Stamford Bridge.
Almost two years have passed since the infamous episode when the Leeds United head coach instructed a member of staff to snoop outside Derby County’s training ground in an attempt to gather some information before their Championship meeting.
It led to a £200,000 fine for Leeds, paid for in full by Bielsa, and a heated rivalry that ended with Lampard’s Derby coming from behind to beat the Yorkshire side in the play-off semi-finals, a supporters’ chant that spread like wildfire and plenty of gloating from the new Chelsea boss.
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While Lampard described the play-off win as one of his favourite moments in the game, there is no shortage of respect towards tonight’s visitors and he clearly hold no hurt feelings after his opponent’s sleuthing.
“It’s in the past,” Lampard said yesterday. “I’m certainly not going to dwell on it going into this game. I’ve always had the respect for him as a coach. It was a great news story, it had a lot to it and now it’s gone. And again I just look at him and how well he did, he brought Leeds up the year after.
“They were probably the strongest Championship team the year we played them at Derby, so it was a very proud moment for myself actually to go up against him and win that game. But it’s a game long gone now, and they are now a team in great form. So I just see the football side of it now.”
Bielsa said he learnt a lesson in British football culture but, again, Lampard showed little interest in what the Argentine gleaning from it or not. “I’m absolutely not concerned about what lessons he’s learned or not. Honestly, I really don’t. I’m definitely not going to hang on it for this game….