I bet there were not many Arsenal fans who saw this coming. We might have wanted Arsene Wenger to give Francis Coquelin more of a chance in previous seasons, especially as the team´s need for a defensive midfielder was often glaringly obvious and caused us to fall short of our targets.
But after the French player´s less than impressive performances when he did get his chance with Arsenal, combined with his failure to really catch fire during any of his three spells away from the club on loan, most if not all of us I had think had written him off.
So I had to give credit to Arsene Wenger for keeping him and then recalling him from Charlton with great effect this season. The manager, however, is claiming no credit for Coquelin´s turnaround in form. As revealed in an ESPN, Wenger admits that he was about ready to let the young player go at the start of this season and that it was Coquelin himself who got his career going again.
The Gunners boss said, “He was not [part of Wenger´s plans]. I told him to give absolutely everything until Christmas, then we would see together where he was. If you respect that you have done a big part of your job.
“In myself, I thought if he doesn’t play at Christmas at all, and there’s only six months of his contract to go, I [would] let him go somewhere else.
“It is a surprise to everybody. The only thing I do is that I never say never to anybody. In my job you have to be open-minded like that. You have to make decisions at times, but never close the door completely for anybody.”
The manager also believes that it is all the previous disappointments that have spurred the player on to grab his chance this time, especially as he thought he would just be sitting on the bench again.
Wenger continued, “He wasn’t happy when I called him back [from his loan spell]. He played there and he thought I just called him back as cover. He expected in fact to play against QPR and was not playing and was surprised when I played him against West Ham.
“He knows it’s an opportunity for him now. Sometimes when you wait for such a long time to get your chance and you get it, the more you have suffered before, the more you enjoy it.
“On that front I think he has gone through a lot of doubt, questioning himself, certainly at many times being discouraged that he didn’t get a chance. Now that he has a chance he doesn’t want to let it slip away, but he is a winner and he wants to win, that’s why he is so committed.”
Fair play to the lad. All the plaudits he is now getting are great for him but also good for the club and a great inspiration to the young players in the academy.