Saturday, June 16, 2012

pleese look after this og

So, having repeatedly stressed that his contract with Montpellier runs to 2014, flirted with Bayern Munich, dreamt of the Premier League, it looks like Olivier Giroud is, indeed, about to 'fait un', and that Arsenal is his most likely destination.


Now, my friend Busty assures me that "he will be going to a new home where the children will love him and care for him", but I can't help worrying a bit, so here is a handy owner's guide to assist whichever club ponies up the (rumoured) €12m necessary to acquire Ligue 1's top goalscorer 2011/12.

Plays well with others

Goals may or may not be over-rated, but he scored 21 in the league, equal with Nene but pipping him to the title as only 2 came from penalties, and 4 in the cup.

(On this specific point, he also missed two penalties, which indirectly led to the epic narls-up against Evian in game 35 when he didn't want to take the last-minute spot-kick awarded, leaving Belhanda - who had scored the first - to go slightly off on one when he saw that Souleyman Camara was about to take instead; a fight broke out, Belhanda got sent off and suspended for the rest of the season, Camara missed, MHSC drew. So, no need to change the penalty rota.)

You have probably already seen the round-up of his season (with appropriately plaintive music) but there's more to him than the goals; he also got 11 assists (9 in the league) so do please stay to the end (these start at 3mins 50).  He put the chip in for Belhanda's wonder-strike against OM, made the run and cut-back for Ait-Fana's crucial last-minute winner against Lille on day 37; more recently for France, there were two assists in the friendly against Iceland, a one-two with Ribery and then a cushioned header knock-down for Rami's thunderous winner (something he has specifically worked on for Montpellier), and a backwards toe-poke to set up Menez for the fourth against Estonia.

To note, on that last one - Evra's low cross came in slightly behind him, as he barrelled forwards - a lot of strikers would just have over-run it and then given that rueful 'cheers' gesture in the direction of the left-back; Giroud managed to check his run sufficiently to nudge it back to where Menez was waiting.  This is key - he makes smart decisions.  His one weakness, arguably, is a lack of pace, but he is aware of this and tailors his game accordingly, as with the Ait-Fana goal (5mins in on the video); with the score at 0-0 and Lille desperate to win to stand any chance of winning the league, they had pushed everyone up for a last crack at the Montpellier goal - Giroud spots this, hovers just inside their half, so when the ball comes over, is a couple of yards ahead of the defenders but still onside.

He said afterwards that he knew he 'didn't have the gas' to score himself but that's clearly what Lille were expecting him to try, so they follow him; instead he heads for the goal-line, pulls Chedjou out of position, and cuts the ball back for the much more rapid Ait-Fana who has sprinted the full length of the pitch and has nobody on him.  This honesty was also displayed after his beautiful goal against Nancy (1 min in) - interviewed on the pitch, when asked if he meant it, he started laughing; later, in the dressing room, he described it with a smile as "un centre-lob-tir" (a "cross / lob / shot") and admitted that he hadn't.

So, he may be used to playing as a sole striker, but despite his importance to Montpellier's victory, he is no one-man-band.  Play him upfront with a more mobile support striker off him, say, ooh, RVP (as we are apparently not going to see him and Benzema sharing the pitch in the Euros, boo) and that could be a killer combination - not a case of punting it forward to the big man, but one-twos, chips, cutbacks, and overlapping attackers.


Anyway...also important to note:

Good with kids - he is patron of Solid'art, a charity that provides performances and activities for seriously ill children, and involved with ELA (L'Association Europeene contre les Leucodystophies), and local medical charity Karma, raising awareness about defibrillators.  So he should be a solid performer in any oh-shit-a-player's-been-arrested-quick-look-cuddly trips to children's hospitals that are on the club's community outreach / PR schedule.

Affectionate -

He is French. Just bear that in mind.


Props to him for being the first professional footballer to appear as the cover-boy for Tetu, a gay magazine, saying that he'd be delighted if this helped to change opinions.  You can also see from those photos something else he will bring to the party - ink.

The league-leaders in the Premiership in this respect are probably Liverpool; obviously Walcott is trying his best, but it just looks wrong.  One quasi-ethnic sleeve, check, and one Bible verse (L'Eternel est mon berger - the Lord is my shepherd), check.  Useful for any title challenge.

And he's a clothes-horse, of course.  Perfect man-crush material.  Also likes cigars, good red wine, and cheese.

Likes a long run-out in the park

He played 36 league games this season, all starts, and a total of 3201 minutes, which means he almost always lasts the distance.  One of the games missed was due to suspension - 6 yellow cards, given the noticeably harsher refereeing in Ligue 1 than the Premiership, is not actually that bad.

In conclusion; Chelsea have bagged the best player in Ligue 1 by getting Eden Hazard on board (L'Equipe average ranking 6.06, and L'Equipe are stingy, only EH and much put-open Brest goalkeeper Steeve Elana had 6 or over - Giroud got 5.94).  However, whoever picks Olive up have a reliable, adaptable, quality player at their disposal, and for much less money.

Just please - look after him. La Paillade are going to miss him.