16 June 2017

Africa: Man-U Should Sign Giroud

Photo: Manchester United
Manchester United

Thierry Henry had two fine feet, and a lot of elegance in his finishing. Ruud Van Nistelrooy was simply clinical, as was Alan Shearer.

The Geordie's positional sense and strike rate scared the hell out of defenders. But probably not as much Didier Drogba did. Just with his sheer use of raw power, Drogba subjugated opponents. Yet, to the Chelsea fraternity, that is what makes him a legend at Stamford Bridge.

But it does not seem like Arsenal's Olivier Giroud will ever get such ratings at the Emirates, no matter what he does. Truth be told, because of the way Arsene Wenger wants his teams to play, Giroud's future at Arsenal seems bleak.

He is going to be resigned to the bench, yet for the way Jose Mourinho has wanted his centre forwards to play, Giroud is the right guy to bring in at Old Trafford.

Mourinho has normally fancied that tall striker, who draws a lot of marking, as a decoy, while creating space for the support cast to run into and score. It worked a lot in allowing Frank Lampard and many others turn Chelsea into the formidable force it turned out to be.

But even with Diego Costa leading the line during Mourinho's second tenure at Chelsea, the results were quite evident. So, even as Man-Utd continues to chase Alvaro Morata, who is a promising forward at 24, because of the way Mourinho likes his teams to play, Giroud is a must have.

Contrary to how much Giroud is maligned by many Arsenal fans, he is a good forward, and would not cost Man-Utd an arm and a leg. But he would come in handy and valuable. Just imagine that although he was mostly used as a substitute last season, he scored 16 goals in 39 games in all competitions.

And rest assured, with the way Mourinho favours full-backs that deliver crosses, Giroud would have a field day. That is not to say that Giroud would be the new Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But his undoubted ability in the air would sort Man-Utd out in more ways than one can imagine, especially from set pieces.

Man-Utd is one team that rarely made much out of corner-kicks, let alone free-kicks floated in. But with Paul Pogba's good vision, his long European passes, would have finally found someone to put them to use in Giroud.

I doubt Morata, let alone Marcus Rashford, has the fortitude to be imposing in the air against guys like Ryan Shawcross, Wes Morgan, Gary Cahill, Giorgio Chiellini or Toby Alderweireld. But Giroud does. It comes with maturity and experience to develop a fearless heart.

And like they say, experience wins cups, Man-Utd need to attack from wherever possible, otherwise, my gut tells me Rashford and Martial, including the possibility of Morata arriving, leaves Man-Utd short on big match temperament.

Few people appreciate that Giroud is a striker good enough to be compared to the likes of Henry, Shearer, Van Nistelrooy or Drogba. But to pass judgment, one must know football too. Good football is not about how much trickery one has in their feet. But how effective one is.

Simple!

It is here that numbers do not lie. Giroud has, for the last four seasons, save for the just-concluded one, been Arsenal's top goal grabber. Last season, he scored twelve league goals, half of what Alexis Sanchez scored. But Giroud was still the second top-scorer, playing a bit-part role because he is no longer integral to Arsenal.

While it is also true that Giroud has missed some good chances, the underlying question is: Who has not? Drogba played 254 times for Chelsea and scored 104 goals, which is 0.40 goals per game. But Giroud, who is dissed most times, has scored 69 goals in 164 matches for Arsenal.

Giroud's scoring rate is 0.42 goals per game; so, he has proved to be more proficient than Drogba. This could easily be countered by an argument that even with his goals, Giroud has not inspired title-winning runs. But do not forget football is a team game, where all players must be in sync to succeed.

There is not a single player that can win a team a title singlehandedly. Any such thinking is a fallacy. At the French national team, Henry scored 51 goals in 123 caps. Giroud has scored 27 in 64 caps which, like Henry's, is 0.4 goals per game. Giroud is the real deal, and Mourinho should not let it pass him by, especially now that Arsenal do not seem to see value in him.

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