The Bournemouth View: a memorable season

bournemouthIt just keeps getting better and better for AFC Bournemouth. From crippling financial woes and non-league fears in 2009, to beating Manchester United and Chelsea in a mid-table Premier League finish this year, playing good football along the way. But what does the future hold for the swashbuckling Cherries? Supporter Rob Lee (@robmatlee) talks tactics, the need for improvement at the back, the development of Josh King and why this season has been a dream come true.

Bournemouth have had an impressive first season in the top flight. You must be a proud supporter?

Of course! It was always going to be a tough ask, but most fans believed we would be able to stay up. I’m looking forward to next season as we try and kick on.

There seems to be more directness and pace about Bournemouth’s game this season, whereas last year you had a more patient system. Would you agree?

No, last season we were still quick, we were still direct. I think this season we have had less time on the ball, so we’ve had to find a different way. But last season we played very much the same.

You’ve conceded 55 goals this season, only the sides in the bottom four have let in more. Next year, do you think the team should compromise its tactics of playing it out from the back?

I don’t think we are ever going to change tactics. Eddie Howe is very, very stubborn at times. It is just an aim to tweak up the defence, to be more savvy and to grow up.

Would you say another centre-back is needed this summer? Sylvain Distin is getting on, Simon Francis is a right-back by trade, Tommy Elphick has only played seven games and you have been critical of Steve Cook in the past…

Yes, a centre back is definitely needed. Cook has improved but still has an error in him, Elphick is inspirational but lacks any pace. Francis was excellent, I’d happily see him converted and hunt for another right back; because Smith also is defensively a liability. Distin is gone in my opinion, I can’t see him securing a new deal at all.

Aside from centre-back, which other areas do you feel need strengthening?

I think a new keeper. I can’t see Artur Boruc staying. Adam Frederici seems to be wanting. I think another central midfielder is required, someone with a bit more dynamism.

Left-back Charlie Daniels has enjoyed a good season and is your second highest assisting player (5). How important is the width he provides?

Vital, his energy levels are incredible. I think whoever plays full-back for us needs to be an endless runner. He has been a great player for us this season, when many had been uncertain whether he’d make the step up.

Some argue that with only two central midfielders, Bournemouth miss the dynamism of Harry Arter when he is out. Do you share that view?

Yes, absolutely. He’s a big loss when he’s absent, he makes us tick.

Last season, a lot of Blackburn fans would have described Josh King as energetic but wasteful. Are you surprised by the impact he has made?

Yes, King started slowly and we were all underwhelmed to begin with. But his workfare is sensational. I’m pleased he’s starting to hit a purple patch and he’s rapidly becoming a very decent forward.

Callum Wilson returned from a long-term injury at Villa Park on Saturday. Would it be practical to fit both him and Benik Afobe – when he returns – into the same team?

On current form, Afobe would struggle to get in over King. Wilson is a certainty and the pair of them looked decent in pre season together.

Manchester United have charged travelling Bournemouth fans prices up to £55 for the final day clash. Should the board subsidize supporters?

Perhaps, but the capping comes in next year, so one more game doesn’t hurt really.

What have you made of the Premier League season as a whole? Are you pleased to see such an even division?

It’s been a good season. It’s refreshing to have two different title contenders. and it’s nice to see teams like Aston Villa and probably Newcastle and Sunderland to go down after years of narrow escaping. I’ve loved every second though, it’s still surreal us being here, but we’ve earned it and surprised a few people along the way.

And finally, you have a tough last five games – can you finish this season with a flourish?

Nope! We have Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton and United as well as West Brom. If we come out with five points I’ll be very pleased to be fair. As long as we give a good account though, that’s all that matters now that we’re safe.