While the Arsenal and France international star Olivier Giroud has come in for his fair (or unfair depending on your point of view) share of criticism from some members of the football media in England as well as some Arsenal fans, this is almost exclusively confined to the papers, TV and social media and does not tend to manifest itself in the terraces.
In fact the most common thing we hear about Giroud at actual matches is the famous chant of ‘na na na naaaa Giroud’ sung to the tune of Hey Jude by The Beatles. So while some Arsenal fans have complained about the big centre forward not being good enough ever since he joined us from the French club Montpellier some years ago, a lot of us and most rival fans think he is pretty good and Giroud feels pretty happy about the credit and respect he gets at club level.
The same cannot be said of his international career, however, and the stick he gets from the French fans has never been worse than it was this summer. In the build up to and during Euro 2016, the Arsenal striker was targeted hard by some sections of the crowd and in a home tournament this was hard for the player to take.
He has been speaking about his treatment, as reported by The Mirror, and while he is struggling to accept it he does think the reason for it was more to do with the enforced absence of the usual first choice central striker Karim Benzema of Real Madrid fame.
Giroud said, “I immediately realised that the people who booed me were not anti-Giroud, but pro-Benzema.
“It could not be otherwise. I came from a great season with Arsenal. It was just disappointing.
“It annoyed me. I was not even remotely responsible for this story and I did not understand the kind of hatred that developed against me.”
In fact it was not just the Benzema effect, because the worst of it that I can remember happened when France played the second group game against a dogged and resolute Albania. The game was held in Marseille and for long periods the French crowd jeered Giroud and called for their local favourite Gignac.
It was harsh stuff and will hopefully make Giroud very appreciative of the great response he gets in an Arsenal shirt. He should get another chance tomorrow to impress these hard to please French fans but will he ever win them over, do you think?