The Spygate derby returns
The dust might well have settled after the ‘Spygate’ saga from last season but it’s soon to be blown right back up as Leeds United prepare to host Derby County
Last season’s intriguing battles between the two clubs drew the attention of the wider public and ultimately it was the Rams who came out on top between the pair in the play-off semi-finals.
The press and media will try and ham up the fixture once again as the rivalry renews, but things move quickly in football and much has changed, especially at Pride Park, since that night at Elland Road.
Frank Lampard, who took Derby to the play-off final, only to lose to Aston Villa, has moved on to pastures new with a return to his beloved Chelsea.
Many of the stars that helped the Rams win that second-leg against Leeds have also moved on, with the likes of Harry Wilson, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount now shining in the Premier League.
Phillip Cocu has since come in to fill Lampard’s shoes and it has not been the easiest start for the former PSV Eindhoven boss, with the Rams currently down in 19th place as they prepare to make the trip to West Yorkshire.
As for Leeds, they had a real coup in managing to keep hold of manager Marcelo Bielsa for a second season and you can see why they were desperate to keep him, looking at the start the Whites have made.
Leeds sit top of the Championship table and again look like they will be in the mix for promotion.
Ultimately Bielsa’s side fell away towards the business end of last season and the club will be hoping the mistakes of last term will have been learned from.
The arrival of summer signings Ben White, Helder Costa and Eddie Nketiah have certainly improved the depth of the squad, which could perhaps be the difference this term.
Both sides have been looking to play down the events of last season and the loss of Lampard does somewhat change the complexion of the weekend’s game.
It was Lampard that, willingly or otherwise, antagonised Leeds supporters with celebrations at Elland Road and his exit from the picture might temper things somewhat.
Whatever the feelings amongst the sets of supporters, the players will be looking to do a job on the field, with the two teams going into this one under different circumstances.
Leeds will be determined to build on their away win over Barnsley last time out and extend their lead at the top of the table, while Derby could use the inspiration of their last visit to Elland Road to try and kick-start their season under Cocu.
Either way, it should be one not to miss at lunchtime on Saturday.
Alex Jack is a Yorkshireman with Scottish connections and well versed in a number of sports. A Leeds United supporter, who also enjoys both codes of rugby. Leeds Rhinos is where you can find him in the summer, while Alex is an avid supporter of Scottish rugby union.