Sheffield United: '˜Tackle diving first,' Chris Wilder tells football's power brokers, as they investigate Spygate controversy involving Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa

Chris Wilder has urged the Football Association and English Football League to tackle more pressing issues like diving and intimidation of referees after Marcelo Bielsa, his counterpart at Leeds, admitted spying on opposition training sessions.

Thursday, 17th January 2019, 8:03 pm
Updated Friday, 18th January 2019, 12:39 am
Chris Wilder has spoken again about Spygate: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

The Sheffield United manager, whose team are among those the Argentine has secretly observed preparing for games, suggested the behaviour of players towards their fellow professionals and officials should be treated as priorities rather than Bielsa's controversial methods.

Identifying simulation as one of the problems that "really do my coconut in", Wilder said: "He (Bielsa) comes a different culture and we've encouraged the introduction of foreign coaches and managers. He's from somewhere with different rules.

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"Is it ethical? Possibly not. Is it something we would do? No. But there are other parts of the game that upset me more, parts that aren't being addressed.

"He's done it, he's a maverick and it's part of this weird and wonderful world we call football. Diving about, going down, rolling about and then getting straight back up again when you've got someone booked or everyone dashing around a ref; those things really do my coconut in."

Bielsa confirmed he dispatched a member of his staff to watch Derby County prepare for their recent visit to Elland Road during a hastily convened press conference on Wednesday, acknowledging it is a practice he has employed throughout the Championship campaign.

Wilder, whose side visit Swansea City this weekend, are second in the table; four points behind Leeds who triumphed 1-0 at Bramall Lane last month.

Chris Wilder has spoken again about Spygate: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"He must have a crystal ball to know that Dean Henderson is going to try and dribble it out and then fall over," Wilder said, referring to the mistake which gifted Pablo Hernandez the winning goal. "If he knew we were going to miss chances, first-half, he must be a better manager than me. It's been blown up. It's like, maybe, going to a film star's house. You're allowed to walk around it but not in it. Perhaps that's a silly example but you know what I mean."

"Players diving about and getting people booked, rolling about and getting booked, maybe that needs sorting out first," Wilder added. "If somebody rang me up this morning and said 'this is Swansea's team' then I'm not going to say 'no'. But it's the act of doing it."

Earlier this week, the EFL announced it had opened a formal investigation into the incident when an individual was spotted acting suspiciously outside County's training complex. Although Bielsa insisted he had not acted unlawfully or illegally, the governing body noted a potential breach of regulations stating clubs must behave with good faith.

"He has stoked the fire and created a lot of debate on this. It's something that I wouldn't do, and possibly the majority of English managers wouldn't, but he has done it," Wilder said. "I think it's been over exaggerated. I think everyone is trying to find that edge, and sometimes they do it in a way that doesn't really sit right with players, managers and supporters. But they are prepared to do it.

Marcelo Bielsa: Bruce Rollinson

"Maybe there might be a change in the law. For me it needs a word, or warning, with the manager about future behaviour. People are saying 10-point deduction or a big fine. No, he's just trying to get an edge, an advantage on a team. If the FA change the law, I would image it won't happen again from Leeds United's point of view."

Outlining how United have prepared for the trip to South Wales, Wilder added: "We have such a wide range of tools to watch the opposition. We watch the last six games of the opposition, we know historically what formation changes they have made, what patterns, trends, how they play. Do they press, drop off, go long or play out from the back?

"From 25 years ago to now, the amount of information you have on teams is incredible. Leeds have gone that extra bit to try and find an advantage. But Swansea will know how we play, and we have been doing work on how they play.

"I think the biggest thing is how players go out and impose themselves on the opposition, and play well. We have always tried to worry about ourselves first and foremost, while obviously respecting the opposition, and the players we are coming up against."

Swansea City manger Graham Potter