The whole ‘Spygate’ shenanigans ahead of Derby’s trip to Leeds last Friday proved something of an unwanted distraction for Frank Lampard’s men and it showed in their performance.
Let’s not pretend it was the reason they played so badly, nor that it was the reason Leeds did a job on them even if the man with the binoculars might have been able to give them a few pointers.
The reality was that Derby were outclassed from the off and the manner of the loss was a bit concerning given how well Derby have often played this season.
They’ve won a few games without playing well themselves, and failed to pick up points when they’ve deserved them, but Friday was one of the few occasions this season, including the reverse fixture with Leeds at Pride Park, where they were simply outplayed in every department.
With Derby aiming for promotion, those kinds of displays can’t be allowed to happen too often. Leeds’ quality should be applauded and helped make the Rams look bad, admittedly, but there didn’t seem to be the fight nor the quality in the Derby side on the night to do any damage.
That will need to be addressed when struggling Reading come to Pride Park on Saturday.
The Royals have a decent record at Derby and pulled off a surprise win there last season when the Rams started poorly and never recovered, so more of the same will need to be avoided.
I’m writing this before the FA Cup replay against Southampton so by the time you read it you may well know whether a fourth round trip to Accrington awaits. If it does, then a fine win at a Premier League side will have been achieved and that in itself will raise spirits again ahead of Reading’s visit.
Lampard has said a few times that he doesn’t expect too much movement in the transfer window aside from a few departures. I hope he’s proved wrong because there are certainly areas that need strengthening, if not improving full stop, so if another astute loan signing or two can be achieved then the Rams can go into the remainder of the season with a bit more confidence in the depth they possess.
Just going back to ‘Spygate’, the whole thing leaves a sour taste in the mouth of course and has rightly been frowned upon, but the thought that it’s a rare thing can surely be dispelled as a myth.
Over the years, some managers will rightly or wrongly have devised ways of spying on opposition training sessions and gotten away with it, whether with the ‘man in the bushes’ technique, a mole in the camp or some other covert method.
Marcelo Bielsa was just indirectly caught in the act, albeit it took him to admit it for everyone to realise just what had gone on.
I don’t think there’s much the EFL will do about it other than a slap on the wrist for Bielsa and Leeds United, a formal investigation having just been launched as I write this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a new law or two suddenly gets drawn up as a result!