Gignac brunt of fans' fury at struggling Marseilles

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The Independent Football

Andre-Pierre Gignac has scored just one league goal in nearly five months with Marseilles and is turning into the local fans' scapegoat following an expensive transfer this summer.

Gignac will end the year without a goal at the Stade Vélodrome as Didier Deschamps' team travels to Brest tomorrow for their final game before the winter break.

Marseilles, who take on Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League, won their ninth French title last season after an 18-year drought, but trail league leaders Lille by three points after failing to win their last four games.

Despite a hat-trick in a 7-0 rout of Zilina in the Champions League in November, Gignac has failed to live up to the high expectations he raised when he signed from Toulouse during the off-season for ¤16.5m (£14m).

Fans expected much better from Gignac after losing top scorer Mamadou Niang to Fenerbahce at the start of the season, when he was sold against Deschamps' wishes.

Gignac thought he had scored in the 21st minute of Sunday's 1-1 draw against Lyons but his goal was disallowed for offside against winger Loïc Remy. The France striker then intercepted a header from defender Pape Diakhate but fluffed a lob from close range in the 77th minute that would have put Marseilles ahead. Although that shot was from a tight angle, and he showed great anticipation to nip ahead of Diakhate, Gignac was replaced by Brandao in the next minute and was booed off the field.

"He is in better shape physically and I'm sure he will give us an extra something," Deschamps said.

The top striker in the French league in the 2008-09 season with 24 goals, Gignac has often been compared to former Marseilles great Jean-Pierre Papin. But he struggled to settle at the club after being hampered by a groin injury as he scored only eight goals last season and none at the World Cup.

Mathieu Valbuena, who scored Marseilles' equaliser against Lyons, said Gignac will eventually be rewarded for his hard work. "He is fighting for every ball," Valbuena said. "I believe in him. But he must not crack up and needs to continue his efforts. All he needs is a goal to get his confidence back."

Lille, who host St-Etienne tomorrow top the standings on goal difference, level on 31 points with Paris St-Germain and Rennes.