Leeds United boss is ‘lacking in etiquette’, ‘unethical’ and ‘lacking in class’...but I take my hat off to him, says Paul Cook

Paul Cook on the touchline during Wigan Athletic's 2-1 home defeat to Leeds earlier this season
Paul Cook on the touchline during Wigan Athletic's 2-1 home defeat to Leeds earlier this season

Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook has defended his Leeds United counterpart Marcelo Bielsa over the ‘Spygate’ scandal that’s rocked football this week.

Cook accepts Bielsa’s actions - he’s admitted spying on every Championship opponent this term prior to matches - are ‘lacking in etiquette’, ‘unethical’ and ‘lacking in class’.

But he feels the Argentinian is merely doing everything he can, within the current rules, to help his side realise their dream of a return to the Premier League.

“For me as a manager, I feel it’s been a topic of debate that’s gone on far too long if I’m truthful,” Cook said.

“There’s so much good going on in the game, and why this is still an issue is beyond me.

“But that’s football these days.

“Personally, I don’t think there’s any harm in it, I genuinely don’t.

“I just think it shows how ultra-competitive Bielsa is, and the lengths to which he’ll go to win football matches.

“For me, it’s a very focused coach doing his best to deliver success to his football club.

“Is it a little bit lacking in etiquette? Of course it is.

“Is it unethical? Yes.

“Does it lack class? Probably.

“We tend not to do that in the English game, we like to think we try and have manners at all times.

“Personally, I take my hat off to him.”

Reaction to Bielsa’s conduct has been split, with a number of managers being highly critical and others believing it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

Cook believes Leeds’ position at the top of the Championship vindicates their manager’s way of going about things.

“He’s come into the English game, and he’s absolutely turned Leeds round like you wouldn’t believe,” Cook acknowledged.

“He’s revolutionised the club, the players, the supporters...whatever’s he’s doing, he’s doing something right.

“If that means he’s pushing every button necessary to be successful, he’s doing it.

“There’s so much going on in the game over here that is bad, but it just gets brushed under the carpet.

“This man’s come over from a country and a culture where this is accepted, he’s openly admitted he’s doing it...and what? And what?

“The two teams still have to go out there on a Saturday and play for 90 minutes.

“The Leeds fans will absolutely adore him for what he’s doing for their club, all they see is a self-motivated man doing his best for the club.

“Outside of the club, the man will probably get lots of criticism, and that’s probably correct.

“But I think there’s probably a lot of people quietly taking their hat off to him, giving him credit for what he’s doing.”

Bielsa also raised eyebrows with the depth of his opposition analysis in a 70-minute powerpoint presentation to the media on Wednesday afternoon.

Again, Cook had nothing but praise.

“As far as the powerpoint presentation goes, we all do those...they are more commonplace than people would think,” he added.

“The depth of analysis is there...it’s how far you choose to go in.

“This is going in 26 feet of a 28-feet pool.

“We’re all in the deep end, but some of us delve a bit deeper than others!”