Stick or Twist: Morgan Schneiderlin and Great Opportunities

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Welcome back to Stick or Twist – the regular Tuesday blog from #ABW Chief Blogger, the Other Geoff.  The concept is simple – OG will pick a few topics each week and give his thoughts followed by a verdict using the terms STICK or TWIST.  Then you get the chance to vote and let us know if you agree.

stick (stĭk): stand; hold the course. The state or condition of adhering.

twist (twist): hit; make a change. A variation in approach.

On Morgan Schneiderlin:

On Sunday morning, I found myself casually watching the Manchester derby over a cup of coffee.  City started so brightly and the opening goal was thoroughly deserved – based on the opening 10 minutes, you’d feel confident of a City blowout.

What happened next was truly a shocking display by the Premier League champions. United got what was perhaps a fortuitous goal followed by some horrific defending by a certain Gaël Clichy to allow the second and all of a sudden, City looked finished. It was such a contrast to how they’d played those opening minutes and yet they never ever looked like threatening United again.

The game was perhaps a metaphor for their season as they started well enough in the league, only to find themselves sinking like a stone since January.  What has happened?

Without dominating this blog with thoughts on City’s drastic turn in fortune, I have to say that a lot of what I’ve seen of them both good and bad, has come down to Yaya Touré.  In the past he’s been imperious for the blue half of Manchester but to watch this season – well he’s looked aloof and moody.  Seeing his body language after that second United goal, and it was clear he didn’t have the bottle to lead a comeback.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that City’s form has been down the toilet since he left went away for the African Cup of Nations.

If I’m City, the answer isn’t getting Yaya a Birthday Cake this season – it is likely a major squad shakeup with one of the first outgoings being to cash in on him (rumours of a reunion at Inter with Mancini).

So where will they cast their eye for replacements?

Enter Morgan Schneiderlin.  It’s hard to find a player that has been linked with us for such a sustained period.  Whatever happened in the summer between Arsenal and Southampton, I think it is fair to say that there was something there and I am making an assumption in saying that I still think there is something there – sure it’s speculative but this is a blog and we can have a bit of fun.

The rumours of Chelsea sniffing around over the last week have made me defensive – and they really were the genesis for this topic this week.  If we got in a bidding battle with them, how far would we go?

Dom (@ozgooner49) and I had a good chat in our WhatsApp group about it this weekend and where it went, I don’t think either of us were expecting.

First off – I don’t think we can compete with Chelsea financially.  This is hardly an epiphany.  But it get’s complicated from there: how would FFP play into such a deal, would the player prefer the French contingent at Arsenal, would we push the transfer fee above our comfort zone, what about the new TV money?

The conversation flowed back and forth, each time scoring points in the “will he/won’t he” columns until we stumbled onto a nugget of information that may change the outcome altogether – Schneiderlin qualifies as homegrown.

Enter Manchester City – the same City who faced stiff FFP Sanctions last summer (including initially having to name eight homegrown players in their UEFA team). Eventually, the sanctions were relaxed to only allow five homegrown players but their penchant for homegrowns still exists.  Add to that the fact that they may be looking for a player to replace Yaya in the summer, and it’s a wonder they haven’t been linked to Morgan Schneiderlin already.

So this is all “if’s” and “but’s” but I promise you there is a stick or twist in here somewhere. I guess what it comes down to is this – if the financially bigger teams bid for Schneiderlin in the summer, how much would you be willing to go to to see him at Arsenal?

I’m genuinely not sure where I’d land on this – it does border on a ridiculously hypothetical situation.  I am quite curious as to how the votes are going to split here.

Verdict: TWIST – I think it’s worth pushing the budget a bit to land a player that can really improve our team and add squad depth in a position that has been lacking for so many years – not to mention, it’d keep him out of our competition’s hands.

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On Taking an Opportunity:

As I sat down to write this week’s Stick or Twist, an article was doing it’s rounds on social media and the internet on how Coquelin’s dramatic recall from Charlton has transformed Arsenal’s season and how Arsène doesn’t deserve any credit for the decision to recall Le Coq into the lineup.

I’m not going to link the article – it’s out there for you to find if you want to.

It did spurn quite a lot of debate over the fortunate nature of Coquelin’s sudden return and how much the Boss had to do with that decision by Gooners across the Twittersphere.  I read the article, and apart from some ill-advised terms and some horrifically damning praise for Arsène, it had some interesting points.

For the record, I think our bad luck in the injury department meant that the Boss had to sit down and consider all his options.  He couldn’t wait until the Transfer Window with the busy Christmas fixtures rapidly approaching and he was likely considering playing someone out of position along with bringing Francis back to Colney.  Only with the benefit of hindsight, can I see that his decision was correct.

Realistically, who would have thought Coquelin would take his chance so well?  Not me. Likely not the journalist who wrote the article I mentioned above.  In fact I suspect there were very few who could have predicted how valuable Coquelin has been to the latter half of our season.  I’m willing to bet that even Arsène has been surprised by how the youngster has taken his chance (23 is young right?).

Yes, there has been luck involved along the way – it was bad luck that we had so many injuries (unless you’re a tinfoil hat type who believes that was all Shad Forsythe’s fault). Coquelin got lucky as well – the type you find when preparation meets an opportunity.

Arsène gave Francis Coquelin an opportunity (yes – it was driven by a series of unforeseeable injuries that ravaged our midfield) and the Frenchman took it.  At the end of the day, that’s what the article should have been about – a young player taking his chance and working hard to make it for the Arsenal.

Verdict: TWIST – Let’s change the focus of the Coquelin story this season to be about him – not how lucky we were to get out of a tough injury situation and find a defensive midfielder in our own backyard.

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That’s it this week – only two topics to vote on.  Since I left you a little short, here’s a video to get you in the mood for the weekend:

You know it!

The Other Geoff

Other Geoff is the ‘#ABW Chief Blogger’ and can be found on Twitter here: @Hollefreund.

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