Fat Sam’s ghost returns with Huddersfield at Arsenal

The Telegraph called Huddersfield’s display yesterday “impressively spirited and organised” perhaps forgetting that they had not one single shot on target.

But this was to be expected because what we saw yesterday was the return of Bolton under Fat Sam (or as we had to call him when people objected to the word “Fat” – “Very Large Sam”.   I’m going back to Fat).

From 1999 to 2007 Allerdyce was the manager of Bolton, a team whose style of play became notorious for an approach which either could be said to have conned referees into accepting a total rewriting of the rule book, or if one was more cynical, an approach in which they extended the rules step by step with the knowing acceptance of what they were doing by the PGMO and its staff.

The essence of the approach was based on the observation that referees rarely take into account the totality of what they see – instead focussing on individual moments.   If each moment is a minor infringement, most don’t get punished, and the overall effect of unsettling the football playing side can be significant. It is not football but niggling.   

The prime factors within the playing of Niggling were fake injuries (which had players rolling on the ground onto to leap up if the ref ever waved play on), rotational fouling and rotational time wasting.   They were enormously effective not least because the media refused to acknowledge that anything unusual was going on.

With the move of Allerdyce to Blackburn (2008-10) it was shown that the approach could be used almost anywhere – the referees simply would not deal with it, the media would not pick up on it.

When the Fat Owl of the Remove (as the most elderly in the stadium might have called Allerdyce) left Everton last season many of us thought that we had seen the end of his approach – not least because it in latter days the media did start using our phrases (rotational fouling in particular) to describe his style of play.

But now it is back in the form of Huddersfield who have adopted the approach as Fat Sam did, as a means of survival at any cost.

The problem that we had was that our players simply didn’t understand what they were playing again, nor did they have a manager who could quite work out what to do – at least until the second half when he really did give New Bolton something to think about.

The answer, as Mr Wenger had discovered years before, was to give them something to think about in terms of attacking flair.  Hence on came Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the place of Lacazette and Lichtsteiner.

But the worrying fact is that other teams at the foot of the table will have noticed this, just as others copied Notlob (an appropriate name for the anti-football team) when finding themselves near the foot of the table and without talent.

Meanwhile the fact that 50,000 people in the stadium were able to see the anti-football in place and made their feelings felt accordingly but the newspapers don’t want to know tells us a lot.

Recently I wrote a little piece Pulis v Wenger on how a major part of the problem with the violence against players by Stoke over the years was that the media refused to call them out, and told Arsenal players to “man up”.   The Fat Sam approach was never as violent as the Pulis approach, although it took could cause awful injuries. But it was an approach that like that of Stoke was ignored wholesale by the press, who preferred to blame Arsenal for the effects.

Now it is back, and the reaction of the press is instant and unanimous.  The fact that football is being twisted away from the game we know into a perversion created in order to frustrate the opposition so much that they become careless is something that the media ought to care about.

But rather like the corruption of Fifa, the insanity of England ploughing money into its activities, and the fact that it is now run by the man who was at the heart of the Manchester City deal while at Uefa, is ignored, day after day, year after year.

Worse, now that Huddersfield are using the tactic and getting away with it, others will follow.  As yet it is not fully functioning and they are still in the relegation zone, but I suspect they will make it work as they get more sophisticated at the way they handle it.

Huddersfield have scored fewer goals than any other team in the PL, and it was easy to see why – just as it was easy to see why they are playing as they are.  

We really ought to be clear: this was not football when Fat Sam did it, and it is not football now.

The Big 6

Pos Club P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 16 13 3 0 34 6 28 42
2 Manchester City 16 13 2 1 45 9 36 41
3 Tottenham Hotspur 16 12 0 4 30 16 14 36
4 Chelsea 16 10 4 2 33 13 20 34
5 Arsenal 16 10 4 2 35 20 15 34
6 Manchester United 16 7 5 4 28 26 2 26

21 Replies to “Fat Sam’s ghost returns with Huddersfield at Arsenal”

  1. Your post might have more credibility if you knew how to spell Allardyce. This is rubbish from beginning to end, you seem to have forgotten that 3 cheating Arsenal players were booked for diving. Most posts I have seen give a more balanced view. Poor show.

  2. Rotational fouling on our players, this season, began at Old Trafford and I recall fearing some lower placed sides will see how well that worked and emulate it. That’s what Huddersfield did with the apparent “approval” of the refs, when they fail to punish fouls early enough, this encouraging perpetrators.

  3. I was voicing exactly these fears a few minutes ago to my son, Tony. I hope the fans remember what they noticed at this match, even if the press fail to mention it.

    For a long time fans were blaming our players for failing to score when they were faced with these tactics, and getting at the team, with the obvious effect on team morale, especially at a time when because we were starved of cash, Arsene Wenger was having to operate with a gifted but young team.

    I really hope our fans don’t turn grumpy again. Currently Arsenal Fan TV appears to be blaming the refs and not our players. I hope they keep it up, because a lot of fans watch that stuff.

  4. This strange obsession with supporting the ‘underdog’ regardless of the tactics used to level the playing field (i.e. taking skill and time out of the game) has always been there but gets less and less sensible as time goes on.
    All clubs need stadiums to be full and matches to be vibrant displays of real footballing skill in order to keep them full. Huddersfield are just the latest in a long line of clubs playing above their level who will never need to expand their stadium in order to cater for the throngs wishing to see them.
    Describing them as ‘plucky’ has long since been another way of saying desperate and not really up to it.
    Maybe lessening the size of the EPL and reducing the number of clubs relegated might reduce the problem?

  5. Well, as we all can see, adopting the Fat Sam Allerydice or Tony Pulis kind of football philosophy and playing it by Huddersfield against Arsenal yesterday at the Ems in the PL has not help them as they lost all the 3 points that were at stake in the match to Arsenal who played in the positive Arsenal way of playing football.

    If any of the 3 lower PL club sides of Southampton, Burnley and Brighton who will all play against Arsenal before the end of the year venture into playing the negative Fat Sam Allerydice kind of football against Arsenal, they will all meet their waterloo. For, Arsenal who are playing positive football will deal with their negative football philosophy positively and beat them all collecting all the 9 points at stake in the 3 matches. Even Liverpool who are looking to play heavy metal kind of football will fall to the superior positive football playing of Arsenal not to talk of the club sides who are playing the prototype Fat Sam Allerydice negative football philosophy.

    This season in the PL, any club side who plays negatively in the game against Arsenal will surely fall to Arsenal losing to them all points at stake in the match.

    Excuse me, had Man Utd played the Fat Sam Allerydice negative kind of football against Arsenal last time out at Old Trafford in the PL causing Rob Holding grievous season end injury?

  6. PgMOB Rules Football (OK?),

    It’s Football Jim, but not Association Football as you know it.

    Have more time for the Rugby and Gaelic codes alongside the old “soccer” myself. The rules appear to be fixed and not variable and dependant on “game managers”, or “theatre” loving luvvies (quoting the pgMOB themselves!). Mwah mwah my darlings.

  7. I like the use of the sin bin in Rugby and have long advocated for a basketball rule be introduced to football – the team foul. Simply put, each team is ‘allowed’ a certain number of fouls per half/or game…whatever, and then the team is sanctioned. In football, this could be by puttimg a selected player into the sin bin for a period of time. Since it is an aggregate number and/or perhaps, aggregate number of yellow cards, the use of the sin bin would almost always be in the last minutes of the half when a side is most tired.

    Of course, it still relies on ‘reasonable’ refereeing; It could be another lever, tilting the world against us.

  8. I fear that the sin-bin idea, which does have some merit, would give the referees just another sanction to impose on Arsenal. Dean and co.would have half our players in it for much of the time.

    As for simulation, our players were booked for going down, where Spurs or Man Utd players would have been “using their experience and entitled to go down because they felt contact.” This unfair application of the rules has cost us 3 of the last 4 goals conceded.

  9. If the pgMOB could start with the existing laws and rules I think that would be a good place to start.

    The laws on hacking are about 150 years old, and not so complex that they require interpretation.

    But as expressed on the Totally Football podcast last week with James Richardson and one or two people who work in the gambling industry:

    “English referring is at it’s lowest point in decades”

    This is what has been achieved in the Life of Riley.

  10. More “good” officiating. Chel$ea vs Man$ity.

    Michael Oliver was the referee. Man$ity have been getting away with a lot, especially at home. In yesterday’s game, the fouls were 12 to Chel$ea and 11 to Man$ity. Chel$ea gets 2 yellows, Man$ity get nothing.

    But, we look at the treatments. Chel$ea required 2 treatments (36 and 64). The second treatment required a substitution. No cards.

  11. Mike Dean at play

    Newcastle and Wolves currently tied (1:1 at half time). There was one yellow to both teams, and I think the fouls were equal (5:5). The fouls are now 8:17 (so 17 to Wolves). At 57 minutes, Mikey gave Newcastle (Yedlin) a straight red. Eight minutes later, Mikey start handing out yellows to Wolves: Costa(65), Coady(72), Jota(73) and Bennett(80). Possession was 60:40 at half time, and it is still 60:40.

    What is Mikey trying to do? No treatments so far (almost into extra time).

  12. Talked to soon, a treatment at 82 minutes to Newcastle which does not require a substitution.

  13. Dean also ignored the blatant elbow by a Wolves player, which was a clear penalty and probably a red card. He was also sharing a lot of friendly chats with them

  14. Did you know Paul Tierney, the arsenal:huddersfield referee, has been in charge of 42 premier league eencounters, he has given only 2 penalties and 2 red cards. These stats come from the androïd appli SofaScore.

  15. For Dissident gooner : https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/1071432831388303360 The yellow card against Mustafi was not according to the laws of the game. The defender clearly made contact with the right foot of Mustafi so according to Dean it should have been a penalty. When contact is made it is not a yellow card. The same for Guendouzi by the way. The Huddersfield defender was body to body to him so again contact was made and no yellow card should be given

  16. Dissident Gooner: I didn’t like those dives as well…..but. since it’s part and parcel of the game. The not so surprising thing is that only we got booked.

  17. It was in my opinion in direct response to all the response to Son. First chance they got they book three Arsenal to get headlines and label us cheats.

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