"A guy walks into a conference room with a USB pen..." may - in theory - be the worst set up to a joke of all time.
Scratch that, it is the worst set up for a joke of all time.
However, today that set up provided the footballing world with one of the funniest and most entertaining moments of the season so far.
| "Good evening. I called this press conference because tomorrow we have the classic press conference ahead of our game against Stoke City" pic.twitter.com/ghOUCGlN97— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 16, 2019
As Leeds United manager (the aforementioned 'guy') walked into a conference room (which was filled with journalists perched upon an illogical moral high ground), with a USB pen, and told the world: yes, yes he had in fact spied on the training sessions of EVERY SINGLE Championship team Leeds United have played so far this season.
In an impromptu press conference - which it was widely presumed he would in fact be resigning from his current position - Bielsa stated that he had sent club staff to watch rivals' training sessions prior to games (via BBC Sport):
"I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents."
But also made it clear that the information gathered during these seemingly covert operations was not necessary, and wouldn't have had a significant impact on his tactics for each game:
"All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn't violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.
| Marcelo Bielsa: "What I have done is not illegal. We can discuss it, it's not seen as a good thing, but it's not a violation of the law. I know that not everything that is legal is right to do."— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 16, 2019
"We feel guilty if we don't work enough. It [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behaviour."
To exemplify this, Bielsa proceeded to show journalists a detailed powerpoint presentation - yeah, powerpoint is still a thing, and from what I can gather, no, he didn't use Windows 97 -
in which the former Athletic Bilbao coach showed how "300 hours" of technical and tactical analysis is the bulk of the team's preparation for each game (via the Independent):
“I feel ashamed to have to tell you all this. Let’s talk about the analysis that Derby played this season. They played 31 games. In 49% they used a 4-3-3 system with a number eight on the right. In 22% a 4-3-3 but with the number eight on the left.
“Same for the 4-2-1-3, with the number eight on the right and left. They also used structures, 3%, 2%, but they’re not significant. Before the game we knew perfectly that they would use these kind of systems.”
Although Bielsa felt the need to justify his actions, he made it clear that he had not done anything 'illegal':
"What I have done is not illegal. We can discuss it, it's not seen as a good thing, but it's not a violation of the law. I know that not everything that is legal is right to do."
| Marcelo demonstrates the analysis his team goes through for each opponent, and how it totals more than 300 hours of work pic.twitter.com/asfGA6Wadm— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 16, 2019
And despite the need for a myriad of pundits and journalists alike, in a search of any semblance of relevancy, insisting that 'spying' on an opponent is morally wrong; Bielsa is right. It may not have been the 'right' thing to do, but it is just football. It is just a form of entertainment. To many who are unable to afford the excessive price of a 'matchday experience', football is just a tv show.
So Henry Winter, Jermaine Jenas et. al: wind your necks in. Pease try to understand that football is a form of entertainment, and 'spygate' has - by and large - added to its entertainment over the past week.