Leeds United vs Derby County: Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino believes ‘spygate’ is ‘not a big deal’

Tottenham manager learner his trade under current Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa, who has found himself in hot water after a man claimed to be an employee of the club was found spying on Derby’s training session

Mauricio Pochettino believes Leeds-Derby ‘spygate’ is ‘not a big deal’

Mauricio Pochettino has insisted that Leeds United allegedly spying on Derby County ahead of tonight’s Championship game was “not a big deal” and was commonplace in Argentina.

Derby announced in a statement today that police officers found a man “acting suspiciously” outside their training ground yesterday morning, and that that man was an “employee of the footballing staff at Leeds United Football Club.” Leeds are of course managed by Marcelo Bielsa, the man who discovered a teenage Pochettino, coached him at Newell’s Old Boys and subsequently at Espanyol and the Argentina national team.

Pochettino has spoken plenty of times in the past about his debt to Bielsa, who he has described as his reference, his “football father” or his “second father”.

But today he was asked to comment on what appears like sharp practice from the team Bielsa now manages. And Pochettino’s response was that trying to watch an opponent train, while not exactly in the rules, was not uncommon for managers in Argentina. Especially operating back in the 1980s and 1990s, back when Bielsa first met a teenage Pochettino, in a league where almost anything went.

“It's nothing wrong with finding information about what the opponent is doing,” Pochettino said. “30 years ago it happened in Argentina. Not only Marcelo, all the managers. When I was 17, 18, 19-year-old all the managers like [Carlos] Bilardo or many, many others used to send people to watch training sessions. Here it's a bit weird, but it happened in Argentina.”

For Pochettino, trying to get one over an opponent is just part of the Argentinean way. Like at the 1966 World Cup. “I remember in 1966 World Cup, how did the Argentina team behave? Remember, we always wanted to be more smart than the opponents. It's not a big deal what happened.”

So while Pochettino learned a lot from Bielsa, and his philosophy of play is comparable, he was careful to insist that he was not taken everything from the legendary coach. “I played for him, I wasn't his pupil,” he insisted. “I learned a lot from him, I learned the good and the not so good. Like you, with your teachers at university. Sometimes it's important to learn the good things and the things you don't need to repeat. I heard, but I don't know what happened.”

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