Bad, unethical and disruptive.
They are just a few of the terms Derby County manager Frank Lampard rightly used to describe the dreadful spying incident which overshadowed their latest defeat to table-toppers Leeds United.
On the off chance this shocking episode has passed you by in recent days, allow us to bring you up to speed.
Ahead of their visit to Elland Road last week, Derby’s preparations on the training ground were brought to an abrupt halt when they spotted a suspicious character watching on.
Was this shady individual caught hacking into the club’s CCTV? Nope. Was the culprit caught red-handed flying a drone over the pitch? No. It’s much worse than that.
He watched the session whilst sitting on a fence in a public road.
Fearing their bleep test results had been leaked to the opposition, Derby promptly accused Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa of sending a spy to document proceedings to gain an unfair advantage. And the evil genius admitted it.
Which makes sense, seeing as watching players run around cones must be the one and only reason Leeds were able to thrash the Rams 6-1 on aggregate across their two games this season.
The Argentine, admitting that he had to “respect the sanctions” that would subsequently be brought against him, then proceeded to reveal the horrendous full extent of his activities.
“My goal is to make the investigation easier for the EFL,” he stated in a staggering press conference. “I observed all the teams we played and watched training sessions of all our opponents before we played against them.”
— West Yorkshire Sport (@WYSdaily) January 16, 2019
Dear God. Who is this animal we have allowed into the beautiful English game famed for its fair play and sportsmanship?!
The sheer temerity of Bielsa sending colleagues to areas of training grounds where they haven’t bothered growing any trees for cover has rightly led to indignation across the country (and definitely not caused an anti-Bielsa witch hunt).
Yes, the practice may be rife across world football, but as Lamps says, it’s just not what we do over here.
Given this whole episode actually sounds like a naff plot from a spy film, we must ensure the punishment suits.
We’ve come up with four possible ways the governing bodies could look to punish the man behind it all, the heinous Marcelo Bielsa.
1. Put him in front of a deadly laser beam
Taking a leaf out of Goldfinger’s book, the EFL’s disciplinary panel would be entirely within their rights to strap Bielsa down and set a laser on him.
Only in this instance, they wouldn’t be so nice as to switch off the machine just before it reaches his particulars.
This red-hot deterrent would be sure to put off anyone so devoid of a moral compass they’d even begin to consider watching professional footballers play football from a public area.
2. Throw a shoe at his head
When Bielsa’s judgement day comes, he’ll want to have all his fingers and toes crossed that the panel are in a good mood. Because if they are, he may just get away with having a brogue launched at his head.
Having to nurse a nasty bump on your forehead would be annoying, but it’s exactly what you deserve for going against the spirit of the game.
3. Put him in a room with sharks with friggin’ laser beams attached to their heads
Bielsa would be scared senseless when coming face-to-fin with sharks with friggin’ laser beams attached to their heads. You could certainly rely on the spying malarkey stopping overnight – why would anyone ever want to risk getting that close to a grizzly end?
As an aside, there’s every chance Leeds are probably used to entertaining such creatures at the club in the past.
The sharks’ inordinately expensive and pointless nature has a distinct whiff of Peter Ridsdale about it, and God knows what that lunatic kept in his costly Elland Road aquarium.
4. Have him face a school of ill-tempered mutated sea bass
The nuclear option for the suits who decide what the Argentine’s fate will be.
Dunking Bielsa’s bespectacled loaf into a pool full of ill-tempered mutated sea bass would certainly prove effective – we can’t think of a single headless football manager who has sent spies to watch opponents train in the past.
Ultimately, we don’t know what will be decided, but action must be taken. English football can cope with bungs, corruption, doping, cheating, sexism and match-fixing.
But, scouts watching opponents? That’s a whole other ball game.