Tag Archives: Spygate

Football League Urges Restraint Over Birmingham v Villa Thugs; Not as Bad as Leeds Spygate – by Rob Atkinson

Brum thug punches Grealish – but hey, it’s hardly Spygate

Fears are mounting at Birmingham City about the scale of the financial penalty to be imposed after one of their fans , at their stadium, invaded the playing area and, before the Sky TV cameras, assaulted Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish. The anxiety springs from the fact that Leeds United were fined £200,000 in the matter of standing on a public footpath and looking through a wire mesh fence.

Officials at Birmingham City fear that an actual assault on an opposing player by a home fan, compounded and aggravated by a later altercation with the same player by a home steward, might be seen as many times more serious than the non-offence attributed to Leeds United. But the Football League are set to banish any such fears.

The logic being applied by anxious officials at St Andrews is that, if Leeds had bto shell out £200,000 for an ill-defined “breach of good faith”, then an actual assault perpetrated within the confines of their own stadium could be punishable by a fine well into seven or eight figures. It is not known at this point whether Bristol City are demanding a points deduction over the matter.

The Football League, however, do not appear to see common assault as anything like as serious a matter as looking through Derby County’s mesh fence, and are prepared to reassure Birmingham City accordingly. A League spokesman confirmed that out of control home fans belting opposition players cannot be blamed on the club concerned, unless that club has the postcode LS11 0ES. “We have to have a sense of proportion here”, our FL contact told us. “We checked with Derby County after the Birmingham v Villa incident, and Fwankie wasn’t upset at all. If he had been, of course we’d have taken further action. Against Leeds United. Ha!”

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Frank Lampard Now Sure the Leeds United Spies are Out to Get Him and Derby County – by Rob Atkinson

Lampard: I sense spies, spies, spies. Where are they??

Shortly after Derby County‘s latest thumping, by four goals to nil at Aston Villa, Rams manager Frank Lampard cut a huddled and morose figure as he contemplated the way in which the nefarious agents of Leeds United were conspiring to deprive him of the success he considers his birthright. When asked if his side were still affected by the aftermath of “Spygate“, a wild-eyed Lampard snapped “I don’t want to discuss that. But yes, definitely. They’re out to get me, I’m looking over my shoulder all the time”.

When asked the precise nature of this alleged ongoing effect on his stuttering team, Lampard rapped “I don’t want to discuss that. But there are spies in every bush, and they’ve all got Leeds United badges on and they’re heavily armed with bolt cutters. They’re equipped with special patent spies’ glasses too, that can see right through even B&Q green plastic mesh. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you”.

Somewhat bemused, our (undercover) Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything correspondent asked Mr. Lampard exactly what would be the point of this alleged ongoing Leeds United spying, given that Leeds had already outplayed and thrashed Derby twice in their two Championship meetings this season. Lampard snarled “I don’t want to discuss that. But you must understand, these Leeds spies are determined to ruin Derby’s whole season, so they’re still after me, getting at me, haunting my very dreams, determined to thwart me, passing on vital information to our enemies. It’s a vendetta, I tell you, a vendetta!!”

As Mr. Lampard finished his impassioned statement, his voice had risen to a peculiar thin shriek, and his face had turned blotchy and purple, with his eyes bugging out and the beginnings of a nosebleed. Concerned, our man asked if he was OK. Lampard whimpered “I don’t want to discuss that. But you tell me, would you be OK with the most evil football club in the whole world against you, following your every move, listening at doors, peeping through windows, bugging your phone lines and hacking into your special Rams iPad?? Would you? Would you??? No, you bloody wouldn’t. And now we lose 4-0 to Villa after getting beat off Forest and Millwall doing us at Shame Park. And the fans are blaming me, can you believe that? It’s Leeds United, I tell you, Leeds! Leeds, Leeds, Leeeeeeds!!!

At this point, Mr. Lampard was led away, gently restrained in the very straitjacket County used to calm Frannie Lee down after Norman Hunter bust his lip, and then, with a faint, protesting cry of “Wibble” that would bring tears to a glass eye, put firmly on the team bus back to Derby. A club spokesman stated that “Frankie just needs a rest. A nice long rest. Just leave him be for now. As regards the current situation, Frankie’s frankly in no fit state to discuss that”.

Leeds United, fresh from their 4-0 dismissal of West Bromwich Albion, confined themselves to a brief official statement: “We at Elland Road wish Frank Lampard well, and look forward to news of his complete recovery and rehabilitation”.

Shaun Harvey of the Football League is a complete arse.

Leeds United Must Tough It Out Against the Whole World Now – by Rob Atkinson

Nothing ever comes easily for Leeds United, that’s the lesson of history. Every single success has been hard-won, they’ve all been grim fights to the death. This season is shaping up to be no different; United have endured the most horrible last week or so, ever since the final whistle at Elland Road signalled a scrappy victory over Swansea City. Their nearest rivals have gained ground, winning games against feeble resistance, while the Whites have been kicking their heels, powerless and frustrated. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the likes of Bolton and QPR, who have capitulated so easily to Norwich and West Brom, will miraculously rediscover their missing mojo when they face Bielsa’s notorious Spygate villains Leeds.

Of course, any club can find themselves going through a bad spell, while their rivals prosper. That’s the nature of a league programme, with its ups and downs – and, generally, things do even themselves out. But few clubs have to put up with the kind of background against which this roller-coaster ride for Leeds is taking place. The Spygate furore was the ultimate example of a towering mountain being fabricated out of an insignificant molehill, with the Football League seemingly quite prepared to make utter fools of themselves in the interests of dragging the whole distraction out as far and as long as possible, all in the interests of distracting Elland Road eyes from the main focus of promotion. Certain league clubs have been complicit in this, with Bristol City‘s tax-dodging owner Stephen Landsdown sanctimoniously calling for a points deduction – and this was in a case where no rules were broken, remember. Stupid hypocrite is surely not an over the top description for that character.

What we can now expect, as the season gets to its decisive sharp end is, I’m afraid, all too easy to predict, and may be summed up as: more of the same. If you look back over the lowlights of the campaign so far, the farcical sending off of Pontus Jansson for falling over at Stoke City, for instance, you can easily envisage what’s still in store. There have been daft penalties against us right from the season’s opening day, when the award for Stoke being typical of the no-contact incidents that provoke the League’s referees to blow for a penalty against Leeds. Meanwhile, we’ve had one penalty all season. We nearly had a second, but the award was negated for an offside call subsequently shown to have been at least a yard onside.

There’s more of this to come. The bulk of fifty-fifty calls will go against us, as ever. The League does not wish to lose its prize asset if it’s possible to avoid doing so. I sincerely doubt that we’ll get another penalty, although we will have credible, stonewall claims – as has happened all season. There will be soft penalties against us – as has happened all season. Where it’s possible to send off a Leeds player, even when the decision stretches credibility, then off he will go – as has happened all season. Meanwhile, opposition defenders will get away with red card offences like denying a goalscoring opportunity – sometimes, not even a yellow will be given. This, too, has happened all season.

So it’s going to be a case of carry on hammering Leeds, but more so. Everything that can be done to keep us down will be done. It will be blatant, and sometimes even the media lapdogs will express surprise. But it will be glossed over and it will carry on. This is what we’re up against. Really, the only people that can do anything about it are the ones so proudly and defiantly wearing the shirts and badges, as they battle on to deliver the prize that so many of us, all over the world, desire so intensely. We’ll have to man up, tough it out, keep fighting. Those are the qualities this club, in its modern, global phenomenon incarnation, was built on, over the last six decades since we emerged from obscurity into worldwide prominence. And those are the qualities that will see us though now, despite the forces of League, rival clubs and media ranged against us.

Marching On Together. Let’s do this.

EFL Confirms Standing on Public Footpath Worse Than Racism and Violence (If You’re Leeds) – by Rob Atkinson

Suárez bite – only half as bad as standing on a public footpath

There was a sense of relief yesterday that, apparently, Spygate had at last been put to bed. The general feeling was one of “Aaaaaand relax” – we could now get back to thinking about football and, more specifically, earning a path out of this increasingly ridiculous and corrupt Football League.

Today, though, people are looking at the sheer size of the fine Leeds United have had to accept as the price for concluding what had become a long-running farce. Two hundred thousand pounds. When you look at it, really consider it, that’s an obscenely disproportionate sanction. Some sort of context is afforded when you notice that Russia was fined £22,000 for the racist chanting of its bigoted supporters, and Luis Suárez copped a total of £106,000 for two separate incidents in which he deliberately bit opponents. There are, needless to say, plenty of other illustrative examples.

So, on this basis, being present on public land with footballers training on the other side of a mesh fence is seen as just under twice as heinous as sinking your teeth into two opposing footballers. And it’s almost ten times more outrageous to public morals and decency than the mass chanting of racist jibes. There’s something far wrong with that particular sense of perspective. It’s almost comical, but hardly anyone is laughing.

The bemused fan of Leeds United (and, for all we know, this applies equally to players, staff and directors too) is left scratching his or her head at the outlandish disparity between the penalty for what is basically a non-offence, and the much less potent sanctions applied in the case of far more disgusting, violent and bigoted behaviour. There is a sense that the slavering pack of press and opposing fans that were on Leeds United’s case had to be mollified somehow, and that most of this lynch mob wanted a points deduction for United. Faced with this, and armed only with a vague and flimsy “utmost good faith” principle, did the League feel constrained to lay it on thick, in order that those thirsting for Leeds’ blood should not be too disappointed? How much would they rather have applied a points deduction of, say, 15 points – to end up looking draconian instead of plain stupid?

Other questions arise. What of Swansea City, who basically hid behind the sofa on transfer deadline evening, refusing to answer calls as their player waited at Elland Road for his transfer to be confirmed? Is that “utmost good faith”? What of Liverpool, who cleared one penalty area of snow at half time, but not the other, in order to maximise their second half advantage? Where’s the good faith there?

Most tellingly of all, what if the club involved in Spygate had not been Leeds United, but some hand-to-mouth, impoverished League Two club without two ha’pennies to rub together? Would they have been hit to the tune of two hundred grand, ushering the receivers in through the stadium doors? Deep down, we know it wouldn’t happen – because this hypothetical League Two poorhouse club would not have the initials LUFC.

The Football League, in levying such a ridiculously high fine, has abandoned any pretensions to proportionality or a real life view. They’ve blatantly – to quote the excellent Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post – taken a hammer to crack a walnut. Some Leeds fans are now seeking to crowdfund a contribution to the vast sum Leeds will have to pay, but that’s not really the point. Because, although it may well be that Leeds United feel the pragmatic thing to do is take this penalty flush on the chin and move on, that doesn’t make it right. The Football League has, yet again, exposed itself to ridicule and derision, something that has implications for every club under its jurisdiction.

Whichever way you look at this bizarre conclusion to Spygate, it smacks more of appeasing the mob than it does of any maturely considered conclusion. And whatever word you might use to sum the whole mess up, it most certainly wouldn’t be justice.

Football League to Ban Use of Public Highways for Leeds United Employees? – by Rob Atkinson

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Football League Board – due to meet on Thursday

The Football League Board is due to meet on Thursday this week to discuss the “Spygate” controversy and investigate any possible options for sanctions against Leeds United. The League is understood to be frustrated but not discouraged by the fact that no rules or regulations have been broken. The additional fact that the Leeds scout was standing on a public highway and looking through a transparent mesh fence will also be taken into consideration but, again, the Football League remains optimistic that this will not be a bar to some form of punishment for the club, Marcelo Bielsa or, ideally, both.

One possibility that is said to have crossed the minds of certain FL Board members – not a very long journey, it must be said – would be the introduction of a ban on all employees of Leeds United using public highways while failing to avert their eyes from the lawful activities of rival clubs. If some retrospective element could be incorporated in such a ban, then it may yet be possible to punish Leeds, even though United are quite prepared to make the obvious defence that Derby County are not really rivals.

The Football League insists that it is taking its responsibilities towards member clubs determined to throw a spanner in the Leeds United works “very seriously indeed”. A spokesman for the League commented that attempts had been made to distract them from this major issue by raising questions about Leeds United players being headbutted by opponents during matches at Elland Road, with the perpetrators getting off without punishment, “and other such frivolous and irrelevant matters”. He went on to confirm that “nothing will deflect us from pursuing our primary duty, which is to protect our brand and its commercial success by keeping Leeds United down at all costs”. Up to eleven other Championship clubs are said to feel reassured by this stance, with the general feeling being one of confidence that the League would hammer Leeds if at all possible.

Frank Lampard OBE, 40 going on 14, is still prone to tantrums and must be mollified.

 

Media Moving on from Spygate for Concerted Effort to Sell Leeds Star Jack Clarke – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds United’s Jack Clarke – the poise of the matador

The UK sports media don’t like Leeds United to have nice things. The recent embarrassing emphasis on so-called “Spygate” – the sensational exposé of a man in a tracksuit on a public highway by a wire fence, failing to avert his eyes from the spectacle of some footballers training in plain sight – was of course intended to derail the United promotion bandwagon, but Leeds have still won eight of the last eleven and are clear at the the top. All the hacks have accomplished really is to emphasise their own essential silliness. So – what to do?

Well, it’s transfer window time and, for your average grubby hack with a Leeds-hating readership to satisfy, what better opportunity for the talking up of the latest United wonderkid in the hope of provoking an auction? Such seems to be the mindset of the gutter end of the media right now, not excluding our good friends at Sky, who are positively schizo over Leeds United, simultaneously hating and capitalising on Yorkshire’s number one football club. The current focus is on United’s Jack Clarke, a young wing wizard with that touch of genius about him. The hacks have seen this divine spark, have noted it well – and are determined to bring about his departure from Elland Road at the earliest opportunity.

The stories have cropped up thick and fast – mostly the former, it has to be said – over the past few days. One mischievous rag, conscious of Leeds fans’ lack of regard for Devon’s Finest, have even linked him with Manchester’s second biggest club. Perhaps they feel young Jack would prosper under what they’re selling as the Norwegian reincarnation of Matt Busby, clearly a better mentor than some Argie who sits on a bucket.

Sky were in on the act today as well, playing tempting clips of young Clarke bamboozling full-backs and sticking the ball in the net. It’s all designed to whip up interest from one or other of their favoured clubs because, alas, so far the only enquiries seem to have been  joke ones, from the likes of Crystal Palace and Southampton – hardly the stuff of a young winger’s dreams. Meanwhile, Jack is thriving at Leeds, in and around the first team, contributing solidly to the promotion push, and with the alluring prospect of a fat new contract and maybe a Championship winner’s medal in the offing. For those who wish Leeds ill, namely just about everyone who doesn’t bleed yellow blue and white, these are not good feelings.

Let’s be honest, Jack Clarke at 18 looks to be the real deal. He has that matador’s poise, the ability to play a bewildered defender into hopeless confusion and ultimate defeat. Only the other day, he destroyed the opposing Derby County full-back, who was promptly dispatched to Aberdeen with twisted blood, there to reflect and convalesce, having been replaced at Derby by a pensioner. Clarke has the nascent promise of a youthful Stan Matthews – there’s no deep, dark secret as to how he beats his man. He dances for a moment, in possession of the ball – will the defender sell himself, or just back off, quivering? Then – a drop of the shoulder, a change of pace, and Jack is gone, leaving his man in a crumpled heap, arrowing a deadly ball into the box, and Roofe is there to snap up the chance. Or maybe Clarke swerves back on his path into the box, and curls the ball inside the far post. You just don’t know, although that initial beating of the full back, that’s an open secret. You know how he’ll do that. But, as with Stan Matthews, stopping it is another matter entirely. The media knows all this, and they’re agreed: Clarke must go from Leeds.

But anyone who knows the game will know that Jack Clarke is in the best place he could be, especially at this time of his fledgling career. Quite apart from the material and competitive career rewards dangling in front of him, he’s working with the best coach in Marcelo Bielsa that he could possibly wish for, and in a team that might have been set up specifically to showcase his devastating talent. At eighteen, Clarke needs to be protected from the predatory and kept close to the nurturing influence from which he’s currently benefiting. Jack has the role models right now, in the coaching set up and alongside him in the team, that will give his genius the best chance of emerging in full bloom. To dump him into a so-called “elite” development squad would be to risk seeing that potential stifled, instead of being honed, as it is now, under Bielsa and alongside the likes of Pablo Hernandez.

Leeds United themselves, thankfully, seem to have become a lot more selective in terms of both squad augmentation and pruning. The development squad is being enhanced with a succession of quality additions, and the progression from there to first team level is a clear path. United also recognise and reward the diamonds yielded by this rich seam, polishing some for display on a grand stage, profiting from others judiciously, with the dividend being ploughed back. It’s a policy designed to reap ever richer harvests in the near future – showing that this is a club at long last on the right track. We can safely assume that United will no longer accept derisory offers from smaller clubs for a short term profit that denies them progress and a longer term bounty.

If I’m correct about all that, then – all media hue, cry and desperation notwithstanding – young Jack Clarke will remain exactly he is, shining and dazzling on either wing, tormenting opposing defences with his prodigious, precocious talent, in the colours of Leeds United, settled and happy on the brink of a sensational career. Which is exactly what we would all of us wish and hope for.

Sky Sports et al not included.

Leeds Fans’ Horror and Disgust at Holier Than Thou Frank Lampard’s 9/11 Shame – by Rob Atkinson

 

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Lampard – holier than thou?

Anyone who’s paid any attention to the sanctimonious ramblings of Derby County manager Frank Lampard Jr, ever since the ever more ridiculous Spygate row emerged, would surely be surprised if not totally shocked at the apparent hypocrisy displayed by this erstwhile member of England’s “Golden Generation”. Lampard, despite prefacing many of his Spygate press answers over the past week with “I really don’t want to talk about that again”, has nevertheless lost few opportunities to express his angelic disapproval of the heinous crime committed by a Leeds United employee, to wit: standing on a public highway and looking through a wire mesh fence instead of averting his eyes. How distasteful it is, then, to discover that Lampard has at least one skeleton in his closet that puts a spot of football espionage distinctly in the shade.

It turns out – and I’ll warn you now if you’re a Fwankie Fan, you’d better look away here – that Lampard, together with three then Chelsea team-mates, found it funny and entertaining to mock and ridicule some grieving American tourists in London just twenty-four hours after the 9/11 Twin Towers attacks in 2001

A manager at Heathrow’s Post House hotel, where the disgraceful incident occurred, said: “They were utterly disgusting. They just didn’t seem to care about what had happened. We had a lot of Americans here and were simply trying to comfort them in their hour of need. Meanwhile these men were laughing and joking, taking off their clothes and abusing our guests.” Another witness said: “One of them was walking around laughing with everything hanging out, while on TV there were crying firemen searching for bodies. It was sick.”

The nature and timing of such shameful behaviour rather takes your breath away and, even allowing for the fact that boys will be boys etc, the disgusting lack of respect and empathy for people still shocked and stunned by the appalling events in Manhattan is hard to describe – except, perhaps, to remind those lining up to condemn Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United that there have been worse things going on at various times, despite vociferous attempts to paint Spygate as an Eighth Deadly Sin.

Looking back over the past week, with this appalling episode in mind, it’s hard to stomach the holier-than-thou look on Lampard’s face as he’s presumed to lecture somebody of vastly superior character, experience and ability about matters such as morals and ethics. And it’s difficult to imagine a clearer case of gutter hypocrisy. Of course, it was a long time ago. But Lampard was no callow teenager, he was a 23-year old who had been awarded representative honours by his country and so was expected to be some sort of ambassador for the nation. Such behaviour is the mark of an arrogant and uncaring thug, and there will be those who would argue that such leopards do not change their spots.

For my part, whatever the eventual outcome of Spygate, I will take no lectures or homilies from Mr Lampard about ethics, morality or anything else. He showed his true colours over 17 years ago, and we can surely be in no doubt as to the less than genuine nature of his carefully cultivated victim persona over the past few days.

Frank Lampard is a media darling, that’s clear enough. But he’s also, at bottom, a nasty little person demonstrably capable of the very worst of human nature. We should all remember that, the next time his hypocritical boat race appears, begging for sympathy and understanding, on our TV screens.

Football League Investigates Leeds but Finds Itself Corrupt by Mistake – by Rob Atkinson

In an amazing twist, the Football League’s probe into the Leeds United “Spygate” allegation has led to a finding that the League itself is corrupt and not fit for purpose. A red-faced FL spokesman admitted that the findings themselves are real enough, but that the direction of the investigation was misconceived. “We didn’t mean to probe ourselves,” the man from the FL confirmed, “That was just an embarrassing mistake that stemmed from noticing Shaun Harvey’s eyes are too close together. But, because the error happened, we now find that we’re utterly corrupt, useless and totally bent out of shape – so I suppose we’ll have to do something about that, like ban ourselves or whatever. It’s all a bit bemusing, all we wanted to do was rattle Leeds United a bit. Deary me”.

What happens next is unclear. The League could appeal against its own findings, but we understand that it’s struggling to find grounds. “We appear to be bang to rights on being as corrupt as you could imagine”, said our man, gloomily. One possibility is that the League might disband itself and turn control of the FL72 over to some less obviously useless organisation, such as the BBC or the Tory Party. The next few days should be very interesting.

Meanwhile, Leeds United are free to continue with preparations for their match at Stoke on Saturday, and a furtive gentleman dressed inconspicuously outside the Potters’ training ground put down his binoculars long enough to confirm that the pre-match build up was “going as well as can be expected”.

Leeds’ Bielsa to be Coach of the Year, But Derby’s Lampard Favourite for Whinger Award – by Rob Atkinson

Fwankie – look at his poor little FACE!!

Whatever might be said about the relative coaching merits of Frank Lampard and Marcelo Bielsa – and it hardly needs pointing out here that the rookie has been utterly owned by the Master twice this season – there do appear to be serious doubts about young Frank’s mental durability, for want of a more appropriate phrase, given his incessant and piteous whinging over what they’re glibly calling “Spygate”.

Sadly for Frank, many of the game’s more respected voices have been united in scorn at the bleating that has emanated from the Rams’ pen over the past few days. As a general rule, those with global reputations have dismissed Lampard’s complaints as ridiculous, while poor Frankie has had to make do with lesser authorities, woman-beater Stan Collymore for instance, in his corner.

There’s also the problem for an increasingly sullen and sulky Lampard that evidence is piling up to the effect that what Sky have attempted to portray as an earth-shattering scoop has actually happened with great regularity down the years. Two of these historical incidences of espionage and skullduggery involve Chelsea at a time when Lampard was a player there – the most bizarre case involving Jose Mourinho allegedly circumventing a stadium ban by means of concealment within a laundry hamper.

More relevant to Spygate is the admission of Andre Villas-Boas that he was regularly sent by Mourinho to opposition training grounds, often incognito, to suss out team news and tactics for the benefit of Jose’s match preparation. Get that, sent incognito to gather information – what more comprehensive description of spying could there possibly be? But Frank appears to be saying that his former coach Villas-Boas is a big fat liar; “I didn’t know about this and, anyway, it didn’t happen” seems to be the Lampard position.

It’s all most unseemly, and all Lampard appears to be gaining with his protracted whinging is a well-deserved reputation as a petulant ninny. And that’s hardly the kind of image you expect of the manager of a club in the muck and bullets Championship, even if it’s only Derby. But Frank seems intent on stamping his feet and complaining until somebody does something – and with the alleged offenders being perennial establishment targets Leeds United, I suppose that can’t be ruled out. But, in this blogger’s humble if not exactly disinterested opinion, all Lampard is achieving thus far is to cast himself as a petulant and childish fool.

This Championship season to date has been all about Bielsa; with a minimum of recruitment, he has transformed last year’s anonymous also-rans into stylish table toppers – as well as implementing a football ethos throughout the club that has seen both the Under 23s and Under 18s topping their respective leagues as well. If this carries on, it’ll be Marcelo first and the rest nowhere when it comes to Coach of the Year.

And Lampard? Well, we can probably close that book right now. With his desperately pitiful demeanour in defeat, and his sullen insistence on ridiculous excuses straight from the embroidered spy story pages of Girls’ Own, “Lamps” has no real rivals for the title of Whinger of the Season. So smile, Frankie lad – this is one trophy you’ll win easily, even at serial also-rans Derby County.

Leeds United “Spygate”: Let’s Not Pretend It Hasn’t Happened Before – by Rob Atkinson

A timely tweet (above) from journalist Amitai Winehouse has exposed the nauseating media hypocrisy gathering like a cloud of effluvium around “Spygate” – the ridiculously over-hyped episode of Derby County players being observed training in plain sight. There’s nothing illegal about it, and it’s clearly happened before (also reported in the Daily Telegraph) and with zero fuss. So why this eagerly overemphasised storm in a teacup? Why the dark threats of FA investigations, why the demands by media no-marks for sanctions? Could it just possibly be due to the fact that Leeds United are involved, and all these hysterical attention-seekers have spied a bandwagon ripe for the jumping on?

Some will say that United manager Marcelo Bielsa emerges from this with little credit. I say he is left in splendid isolation as the only honest man involved, while various hacks, opponents and other such hypocrites – yes, that word again – trip over each other in their desperation to make some capital out of a non-event and perhaps somehow upset a Leeds United apple cart that is threatening to become an unstoppable juggernaut.

Reviewing the Sky Sports coverage of last night’s match against a cluelessly inferior Derby County is not an edifying experience. The assembled pundits and presenters took ages to drag themselves around to addressing the actual football business of the evening – instead, they were positively salivating at “this sensational breaking story” as they termed it. The “story” was Bielsa being frank, honest and anything but contrite about what he clearly sees as a variation on scouting – but the assembled po-faced hypocrites were determined to paint it as a betrayal of trust and decency only one small step down from Judas Iscariot‘s behaviour in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Exactly how the said hypocrites feel this is justified, given the evidence in the image above, is difficult to imagine. But it’s Leeds, so they’ll do their best. At some point though, there will have to be some acknowledgement that, yes, it’s happened before and, no, the whole of the football world didn’t have a cow and demand anyone’s head on a plate. The delicious irony is that the instance above was during Jose Mourinho‘s time at Chelsea, and who was on the playing staff at the time? None other than last night’s whinger-in-chief, the initially scandalised and ultimately demoralised Frank Lampard. So does Frank know that this sort of thing has happened before? Of course he bloody does.

I took the further step earlier today of tweeting the image above to Keith Andrews, the most vocal of last night’s pundits, to ask him if he’d be commenting about Mourinho in similar vein to his over the top attack on Bielsa. Or, I asked, is he content to be receipted and filed as just another hypocrite. How that word keeps cropping up when you’re writing about Leeds United’s legions of critics. I won’t be holding my breath for a reply.

Another bandwagon-jumper was former footballer, current Midlands apologist and of course historical woman beater Stan Collymore. He called for last night’s match to be replayed, and for Bielsa to be beheaded on Tower Hill, or something. Women beaters tend to find it difficult to ascend the moral high ground, so I possibly didn’t pay too much attention to Stan’s bletherings.

At the end of the day, it was still about the football, however much Sky wished and tried to make it otherwise. And, on the football pitch, Leeds United beautifully and ruthlessly dismembered Derby County in a performance of passion, skill and control. Young Jack Clarke, starting for the first time, showed some more of his blossoming genius and was at times unplayable. He reminded me of what they used to say about the late, great Stanley Matthews: “You knew how Stan was going to beat you, you knew exactly what he was going to do. But stopping him was another matter entirely”. In the end, I felt sorry for the Derby left back, who stood in need of being taken off with twisted blood. Clarke destroyed his opponent and was heavily involved in both goals. What a prospect United have here.

But the whole team performed well, and it was as complete a performance as we’ve seen for a while. Denied an early penalty by a daft offside call, Leeds simply went about their business and never gave Derby a sniff. It was wonderful to behold, as was that smacked puppy look on Lampard’s face at the end – the same expression he wore after our 4-1 battering of his outclassed team at Pride Park in August. This time, he paused after the final whistle for only a cursory handshake before flouncing off down the tunnel, doubtless pondering on how to field further questions about Spygate without sounding like he was making lame excuses.

And so a very satisfactory day ended, and now we wait to see what, if anything, our corrupt football authorities try to do about the storm the media have so assiduously whipped up. And that’s when we need to shove the evidence of prior occurrences right in their smug faces – so please, anybody who reads this, find Amitai Winehouse’s tweet and share, share, share. You know it makes sense.