The next team we will be focusing in on is AFC Bournemouth. Down on the South Coast, they have a tight-knit community where they refer to the club as, “The Cherries”. One of the things that stands out with the Cherries is that they have a tiny stadium by league standards, seating a little over 11,000 fans. This creates a […]
The next team we will be focusing in on is AFC Bournemouth.
Down on the South Coast, they have a tight-knit community where they refer to the club as, “The Cherries”. One of the things that stands out with the Cherries is that they have a tiny stadium by league standards, seating a little over 11,000 fans. This creates a wonderful atmosphere, where the excitement of every goal scored and the agony of every goal conceded creeps down onto the players on the pitch.
The 2018/19 campaign was a bit of a rollercoaster for manager Eddie Howe and his players. They finished 14th in the league on 45 points, but they were very strong on the counter. 7th in goals scored, with 56, the tandem of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser were responsible for a combined 21 goals and 23 assists. Fraser finished 2nd in assists in the league behind Real Madrid’s new star man Eden Hazard.
The defense was near the league bottom, with 70 goals conceded. Only Huddersfield and Fulham had worse records, with both sides being relegated. On top of that issue, the goalkeeper situation is horrendous, with big signing Asmir Begovic being benched after 5 errors leading to goals scored. Howe elected to play 39-year-old Artur Boruc and then 20-year-old youth keeper Mark Travers to finish the season. With the season fast approaching, Howe has to address this defensive issue quickly.
The Cherries have become a regular in the Premier League, with manager Howe guiding them to multiple promotions through the English Football pyramid. Bringing an attacking, procession based style of play to the lower tiers has allowed them continuous success in the top flight. This summer could be pivotal, with Ryan Fraser refusing to sign a contract extension and Callum Wilson rumored to a big-money move away. Keeping these two in attack or selling them for maximum profits are the only two real options left and with time running out, we could see some panic from the south coast.
So, where does Bournemouth need to do business this summer?
A goalkeeper would be a start and there are plenty of options across Europe. Italy seems to have a lot of options. With Gigi Buffon returning to Juventus, Mattia Perin is now a 3rd choice. Maybe a loan with an option to buy could be a route for Bournemouth, but with competition from big clubs like Roma and Sevilla, that seems unlikely. A massive gamble could be Southampton’s Fraser Forster, who was rivaling Joe Hart for England’s number 1 spot 5 or 6 years ago.
Having been completely shut out of the side, he could be a bargain buy and at 31 still has some time to perform. Maybe even a swoop for another lower-tier Premier League keeper like Matt Ryan from Brighton or Simon Mignolet from Liverpool could be a cheap fix.
Addressing the outfield players is another key aspect of survival in the Premier League for Bournemouth. Some of their defenders lack the pace needed to survive in the top flight but have proven themselves capable in certain situations. I think if they can get a permanent hold of Nathaniel Clyne, that would give them some good pace down the right flank. Another Left Back is needed, someone preferably with pace who can provide Fraser with some overlap. Alberto Moreno’s contract is expiring, so if they could convince the Spaniard to stay in England, that would be a good free signing. Another option would be Fabian Delph, who could play either Left Back or in the Central Midfield. Manchester City could offload him for a relatively cheap fee.
In the midfield, getting someone to partner with Jefferson Lerma is key to his consistency. Someone who will be industrious and provide a more rigid shape, like returning loanee Harry Arter. Perhaps going out and getting someone from an Eastern European side that was in European competition could be a well-played move.
Tomas Soucek from Slavia Prague would be an excellent signing, having performed well against Europa League winners Chelsea and winning Player of the Year in his domestic league. A tall midfielder who has a pretty good range of passing, as well as being an aerial threat, he could provide a central passing outlet while maintaining a solid defensive shape for the Cherries. That could be a good move, maybe between 15 and 25 million Euros. They will also need to keep their creative players like Fraser and David Brooks out wide and make sure their forwards get good service.
I think Bournemouth needs to cash in on Ryan Fraser. The market will pay an inflated price (33.45 million Euros is Bournemouth’s set fee) and those funds could reinvigorate a side that has been shaky at the back. Howe is currently the longest-serving manager in the Premier League, which allows him the freedom to stick to his philosophy even in bad times.
I think that Bournemouth will finish 15th, having to sacrifice some firepower to make sure the team is overall solid. This solidity will help them draw more matches, providing them some relief from their 19 losses last campaign.