Frank Lampard “does not believe” spying tactics were employed during his time at Chelsea.
Speaking three days after reacting furiously to Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa employing someone to watch Derby’s training session ahead of their game, Lampard said he would leave it to the authorities to decide if any action would be taken.
Shortly after the Leeds game, a 2011 Telegraph interview with Andre Villas-Boas resurfaced, during which he admitted that while working under Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho he would “travel to training grounds, often incognito” to secretly watch opposition in training to illicit further information.
Lampard was a player in that Chelsea side, but said on Monday: “There’s been talk about Chelsea used to do this years ago. I certainly wasn’t aware of it and I don’t believe it at all. Certainly not in the form that it happened this time.
“Amongst managers, and I haven’t canvassed opinion, but going on my time at Chelsea and my year at Manchester City and seeing how protective top managers are over their work, I would expect them to be of the same thinking as myself.
“Pundits or ex-players who say ‘well it always used to happen 20 years ago’, well it’s not 20 years ago, it’s the modern day.”
All that said, Lampard wants to move on from the incident.
“It is now a conversation between the FA and EFL and for them to decide if it is worthy of a punishment,” said Lampard, speaking ahead of his side’s FA Cup third-round replay at Southampton.
“I don’t think offering my opinion now on what should happen is the right thing to do. I think I made my feelings quite clear after the Leeds game.
“It’s up to how much the FA and EFL want to stop what happened happening again, or whether they don’t.
“This will be the last time I speak about it. I certainly don’t want to be the person who keeps speaking about an issue when it’s gone. It’s for the authorities to deal with and now we must focus on what we are doing, which is preparing for the Southampton game.”
Southampton are now managed by Ralph Hasenhuttl, who has spent large spells of his coaching career in Germany.
For him, watching opposition training is nothing new.
“I know this from Germany – in Germany it’s a little bit easier because there are a lot of public training sessions, so it’s not a problem really to spy on such training sessions,” he said.
“But there are still a few training sessions that are without public and there it also happens that you pick one (a spy) out of the woods behind the pitch.
“It’s good that in England they try to maybe put now a signal that it is unsporting or unfair, then this will not happen again in the future.
“If the fine is high you will see it doesn’t make any sense to take this risk. I know it, I also had sessions that were spied on by other clubs.
“If they send a signal that it is unfair and unsporting it will be something I can agree with, absolutely.”
Asked if he, like Bielsa, had ever sent someone to watch an opponent train, he added: “Yes. We could because it was public and then you send the guy, you see who is training or who is not and, if there is a new coach, what does he do at the beginning.
“But it was always open so everyone could do it. I wasn’t standing there myself but I was also sending ‘spies’ there – or normal visitors. It’s normal in Germany.”
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