Fans have always had different reactions to different players and such reactions have not always been logical. Players are not necessarily beloved because of the cogent contributions that they make to teams; they are often valued based on how they make fans feel. It is for this reason that flair players and the sort who wear their emotions on their sleeves are the usual fans’ favourites. You can see the flair even if it leads to nothing useful; or even counter-productive at times. Players who show passion on the pitch act exactly the way the watching fans would have probably acted in most situations. It is therefore not surprising that these 2 types of players are the most loved.
How many times have a player been criticised and abused for being crap only for the numbers to be broken down for fans (and most irresponsibly, the media) to now realise that they were wrong? Sometimes, the criticisms are well justified but most of the time they are not. I can’t recall a more unjustly criticised player than Olivier Giroud of Arsenal FC this season. I hear people criticise him and I wonder if I have been watching the same player or there is something wrong with me.
I have an attitude when it comes to Arsenal player that I must confess to my dear readers: I never abuse any player as long as they are in the service of Arsenal FC. I have complained about a few players during the heat of the game but that is it for me. I never take my hurt at how a player performed in a game away from that particular game once the final whistle is blown. I don’t necessarily forget how poor a player was in a game but as long as they are still wearing Arsenal’s red and white, I continue to support them and hope that the manager (who knows more than anybody alive on how to turn players around) will get them sorted and performing on top soon.
This attitude has saved me from having eggs on my face on countless occasions. I feel extreme pride in myself when I read comments from Arsenal fans on how they used to give Ramsey grief but they are now glad to be proven wrong. Fuckers. You are not supposed to be giving the players of the team that you love and support grief, no matter how poor they might be performing. It is not your job. There is a man employed by Arsenal FC to do the job of setting our players straight both tactically and with harsh words if necessary and he is pretty good at his job.
It is not my place to harass players or call them names like “Flappyhandski” or “van Porcelain” when they make mistakes or are struggling with injuries only to then whine about Arsene Wenger not giving them long contracts when such players seek more opportunities to play or earn more money elsewhere. (I am not too sympathetic with the Traitor but calling him names then was wrong all the same). Ironically, those who have abused our struggling players in the past would then follow up their mea culpa with immediate abuse of a current struggling player.
How many times have you read this line: “I am one of those who used to criticise Aaron Ramsey but I am glad that he has proven me wrong ……. But that Sanogo is never going to come good or Carl Jenkinson is not good enough, we need to get another RB”. You would think that someone just eating crow would have learnt their lesson but you would be wrong.
Of all the players that Arsenal fans in their infinite stupidity have treated unfairly, I struggle to find anyone like Olivier Giroud. We can say that some players have underperformed in the real sense of the word and that while this doesn’t make the abuse right, one can at least understand the reason for it. Giroud’s case is a strange one for me.
The guy gives our defence very good cover during set pieces and tracks back when we are under constant attack to help out. He is in the midfield during battles. He is a very selfless striker who would not only willingly pass to better positioned team mates but would celebrate their goals like he is the one who actually scored it. And, he scores his fair share of goals too. With 16 goals in the premier league and 22 overall, I think he is exactly where Arsene Wenger expects him to be this season.
What Giroud does better than any player in the league, in my opinion, is that famous link up play of his. He is bloody good at it. The way he keeps possession at the opponents’ goal area and calmly waits for his team mates to take good attacking position is superb. And the flicks, oh the flicks! Giroud has some of the most delicious assists in the entire league this season. Statistically, he is where Thierry Henry was at the end of his second season with Arsenal. True, he is older than Henry was but he is not at the peak of his career yet so there is room for improvement.
Now, why has the guy been treated like some bumbling doofus by the media and many of our fans? Why?
Apparently, he missed some good chances in some high profile matches unlike, you know, every striker who has ever played the game! Luis Suarez scored none of his 31 league goals against a top 4 opposition. That is zero in 6 matches!
Arsenal’s attempt and failure to get Suarez last summer is probably most responsible for the animosity of many of our fans towards Giroud. Most of the criticism and abuse are borne out of nothing but covetousness. Many wish we had Suarez and because we actually went for him but failed because Arsene Wenger wouldn’t write a blank cheque to a club that was unwilling to part with their most treasured resource, these souls took it out on Giroud.
Every time Giroud played, he reminded those Gooners of what could have been. His minor errors are exaggerated; they are errors that Suarez would never have made. His missed opportunities are those that Suarez would have converted. In the end, Giroud was not being judged on his own merit but with another player that they wish we had. Giroud was portrayed as one of the worst strikers in the league. Ironically though, you would often see the same detractors whining about what would happen to the team should he get injured. This bit gets me every time. Why would the team miss a player that is so crap?
The media fanned the embers of this discontent amongst Arsenal fans, as they have always done with our players whenever they notice our fans getting on their backs. News reports and analyses were written mocking and berating the guy with emphasis on how he shouldn’t be Arsenal’s leading man. It would be safe to assume that Giroud would score very low in any rating system used by the media. Afterall, they couldn’t stop slating the guy. But it turns out that the Telegraph scored him 214 which is only second to Suarez’s 290. All the other strikers scored less than 200. I am not a believer in the Football Fantasy points of players because I utter distrust the media when it comes to player ratings, which bad enough, is subjective on its own. However, Giroud’s position here is interesting to me because it got me by surprise. It also means that while the guy was being written about as inadequate by the media, their subjective player ratings system is showing a different result.
Here are the top 5 rated strikers in the league (courtesy of Andrew Crawshaw of Untold Arsenal):
Luis Suarez 290
Olivier Giroud 214
Daniel Sturridge 197
Sergio Aguero 180
Edin Dzeko 180
The fact that our very own much maligned striker is ranking this high (even though this is an unscientific rating system) shows that much of the abuse and criticisms that the guy has received are illogical and mostly unfounded. If a rating from a media publication – who are not known for being Giroud’s fans – put him this high, then he must be doing something right for us. Not that I was ever in doubt of Giroud’s contribution to the team but I hope that those who berate him and call for someone else to be signed to take his place would just calm down and show the guy the respect that he has earned.