The Bournemouth Identity: Season Preview

bournemouthBournemouth will not change any time soon. As long is Eddie Howe is in charge, they will retain their belief in passing football and playing out from the back. To some, this shows admirable commitment to one philosophy, something rarely seen in the modern game. To others, it shows a lack of pragmatism and an unwillingness to adapt. Where does reality lie? The Football Lab spoke to supporter Rob Lee (@Robmatlee) to find out.

Bournemouth have had an impressive first season in the top flight. You must be delighted with the progress the club has made?

Yeah of course, the aim was always survival and to achieve that is incredible. I’m happy to be negative in this instance and say we should have finished higher, but that’s me being pedantic.

Eddie Howe clearly believes in attractive football and playing out from the back, but the attacking 4-4-2 system used over April and May often saw Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman overrun. Is there a need for Howe to be more streetwise in certain games?

Oh absolutely. Many fans saw it as well. Fair play for sticking to his guns, but so many times that extra CM was needed, especially when out scoring the opposition wasn’t gonna happen; like Spurs or City.

Artur Boruc did not have his best season while Adam Federici has been questioned. Are you frustrated that no changes have been made in the goalkeeping department?

Firstly I am surprised we gave both new deals (Feds was only 1 year into a 3 year deal as well), most were expecting Boruc to depart and I don’t think many would have been worried had he gone, so yeah it is a shame that our defensive issues and frailties have not been really seen to as of yet.

Energetic left-back Charlie Daniels enjoyed an excellent 2015/16 campaign and was your second highest assisting player (5). How important is the width he provides?

Essential, it’s the same for either Smith or Francis on the right. It’s very difficult to stop play when you essentially have 4 wingers. Daniels impressed most because there were question marks about whether or not he’d be able to step up, which he did, almost comfortably.

In our last interview, you suggested Adam Smith can be a defensive liability. Was it a mistake for the club to give him a four-year contract and, to date, not strengthen at right-back?

No, because I think he will now be first choice with Francis moving centrally. He is also a quality player, he just needs to know when to make a “clever foul” as opposed to the silly ones he tends to give in dangerous areas (Payet goal against us at home). I’m pleased he’s signed long term because he is a tireless player, has an excellent rapport with players/ fans and he will keep improving. It has highlighted our limitations at the back, especially losing Tommy Elphick.

You also said another centre-back was needed, with Steve Cook error-prone and Tommy Elphick lacking pace. Are you pleased with the signing of Nathan Ake?

Ake is interesting, because he’s majorly versatile, with most thinking he is gonna play as a CDM which is something we were crying for also. I’d quite like one CB and one RB and I think we’re set.

The team missed Harry Arter when he was out last season. Championship arrivals Emmerson Hyndman and Lewis Cook provide cover but would you have preferred somebody more physical to come in?

From what I’ve gathered, Cook is a physical sort of midfielder, combative and likes a tackle. that’s fine, I think Arter is one of a kind and a player such as Harry would be missed from anytime, regardless of cover. Hyndman is intriguing as he is a relative unknown but he has come with a good reputation; most cherries now think that’s the end for at least one of Shaun MacDonald and Eunan O’Kane.

Matt Ritchie has gone to Newcastle for £12 million. He wasn’t as good as some might have hoped last season – was it right to sell him?

Yes. Most feel that he was anonymous for large portions of the season without effecting. He scored a couple of vital goals and a handful of assists, but he is and always was a luxury player. It also looks as though Eddie is building a team on raw pace, which ostracises Ritchie. Who can also argue at 11.5m profit and a player who has helped win two promotions. Good deal all round.

Callum Wilson returned to the first team at Villa Park last season. How good a moment was that? And with Lys Mousset signing from Le Havre, what do you make of your current options up top?

Wilson was a massive lift, it was just a shame he didn’t get a comeback goal. Callum will be eager more than most for pre season. Lys looks very much like a Wilson mark two. Strong, quick, skilful (that’s just from a couple of clips from the club’s videos from training). Striking is our strongest outlet by far. Wilson, Josh King, Mousset, Benik Afobe and Lewis Grabban (who has been rumoured to be heading out also) all have goals in them and can excite. Very excited about us going forward. As always, the issue is defensively.

What are your thoughts ahead of the Premier League season as a whole? Which teams do you see battling relegation?

This season is going to be mad. Just look at the early spending already. Valdes joining Boro for instance. Personally I think Sunderland, West Brom and Burnley are going to go down. But it could be anyone from about 7 teams. I also feel that the league will offer a lot of surprises and a couple of dodgy results will probably drag teams into it, just like a couple of good ones can see a propelling up the table.

Where will you finish? You predicted 15th last summer, effectively on the nail but for goal difference…

I’m gonna be consistent and say 15th again. I think it’s gonna be another slog, but I think we’ve got enough going forward to grab enough points.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

Bournemouth’s commitment to attacking football will count against them. With a poor goalkeeper and a suspect defence not helped by tactical naivety, the Cherries will leak goals. 20th