He’s tall, handsome, rich and plays (and scores) for Arsenal, so why do so many Arsenal fans (and fans in general) have such a problem with Olivier Giroud?
Maybe I’ve just answered my own question right there – simple envy – but I don’t think it’s that simple at all.
What I do think is the forward, who has scored 117 goals for club and country over the past four-and-a-half years, is the victim of a press witch-hunt. It started when he arrived in England and it’s effects will be felt until he hangs up his boots.
Yes, this is a tale of how the tabloid press tried to destroy him when he first arrived here.
Giroud was announced as an underwhelming signing in the summer of 2012. Costing a little over £10m and coming from Montpellier, he was obviously not good enough. It didn’t matter that he’d just helped his side to the title, winning the Golden Boot in the process by scoring 21 goals in 36 league games (with 12 assists into the bargain) – he wasn’t the player many wanted to see at the club.
And parts of the press knew it.
As early as 4 October, the Mirror were penning pieces stating that it was ‘too early to write off Olivier Giroud’. If nobody was writing him off, why would they feel the need to write this piece after he’d been at the club a little over four months, and only playing in an Arsenal shirt for two?
But it started long before that
26 August, 2012 – two months exactly after Giroud signed for Arsenal and after one game of the new season (a 0-0 draw with Sunderland in which Giroud came on for 26 minutes) the Daily Mail were already asking if he was the ‘new Gervinho’.
By September, Wenger was reporting that the player was ‘under pressure to score’ – after four games at a new club in a new country. It’s was an external, media-driven pressure and one that has never lifted.
These are just from quick search of the headlines on Google. Countless pieces were also written in which he was called a flop inside the editorial. Many more headlines than I care to trawl through hit people’s eyes. A drip-feed of a narrative until it was firmly established.
It wasn’t all bad, of course.
Amy Lawrence tried to bring sense and reason to the narrative in November of that year, but we all know that it is the redtops who set the real football agenda for the majority. I don’t deny that there are many respectable, reliable sports journalists out there working for papers and sites that do an amazing job. They aren’t who I am talking about here.
So now you have fans reading he’s flop. “They’re right!” many cry in unison. “What has he done since he got here?” The fire was already smouldering with Wenger’s inability/refusal to pay big money for a big name. The press just added the fuel.
Job done, and Giroud’s reputation never stood a chance of recovering.
Once a person makes their mind up on something, it’s very hard to undo it, even with all the facts in the universe. People don’t like being wrong, so they’d rather double-down on their initial opinion and hope they’re proven right eventually, seizing on anything that might show this to be the case.
Olivier Giroud has proven a lot of people wrong.
Is he world class? No. Is he frustrating? Absolutely. But is he a player who deserves to be destroyed on social media when he misses an easy chance like so many other strikers do on a regular basis? Not at all. The reason that happens, however, is because it reinforces the belief of those who think he’s not good enough. They pounce to highlight, able to feel a little better about their own worldview once again for a little while longer.
There’s nothing we can do about this. Research has repeatedly shown that the more you disprove a belief someone holds as fundamental, the stronger their belief grows. Us humans are truly odd creatures. If you don’t believe me, just take a look around the world at the minute.
It’s why all the facts in the world won’t change the mind of those people who believe Donald Trump over their own eyes.
And it’s why Olivier Giroud will always be mentioned with a ‘yeah, but…’
The redtops did this.
And every time you repeat it, or refuse to let your eyes overrule your belief, you let them win.