With the World Cup drawing to a close, focus soon turns to club football once again. In this series I will be previewing the new season for each Premier League club. This piece will look ahead to Bournemouth’s upcoming 2018/19 season.
David Brookes, AM.
(Notable) Loan Returns:
Benik Afobe, ST. Max Gradel, LW. Lewis Grabban, ST. Adam Federici, GK. Ryan Allsop, GK.
Net Spend: -£8.01m
How do you judge Bournemouth? Often when watching them, you leave wanting more. Take in the bigger picture and its remarkable a club that size are sitting comfortably in mid table of the Premier League. They beat Arsenal and Chelsea one month. The next, Huddersfield wipe the floor with them. A lot of money has been invested in players, yet most of their key contributors were with them in the Championship. Bournemouth seem destined to be the team who wins matches they shouldn’t and loses matches they should win, until they don’t.
Looking at the transfer market, there is only really one position they can realistically improve. Begovic is as good a goalkeeper a team with no European football is likely to attain. Nathan Ake, Steve Cook and Tyrone Mings make up an impressive young core, with Ake showing to be an asset only increasing in value. They’re solid in the full back department, with perhaps a young prospect making the shortlist. It is central midfield were Bournemouth are at their strongest. With plenty of passing, ball carrying and energy between them, it is unlikely the club will target an upgrade, particularly if Harry Arter continues on his upwards curve. Up front, Josh King and Callum Wilson will stretch any defence with their pace, whilst Defoe provides the wily veteran presence the team needs. That leaves us with just the wide areas.
The Cherries will certainly hope ex Liverpool prospect Jordon Ibe turns his late season into something more tangible, but aside from him they lack in such positions. Ryan Fraser has impressed in cameo’s but asking him to provide consistent minutes may be too big an ask. It could well be versatile 31 year old Marc Pugh’s last season at the club, who is certainly a player big Championship clubs will keep tabs on. This leaves them with only Junior Stanislas as an established option out wide, a player who is currently fighting through a knee injury.
If Bournemouth’s past blue print is anything to go by, expect the players targeted to be young and likely British. New signing David Brookes certainly fits this mould, likely playing a rotation role on the wing in his first season. Liverpool’s Harry Wilson could be a fit after an impressive loan spell at Championship club Hull. Recently relegated forward Jay Rodriguez may also hit the clubs radar. A loan signing is an option if not ideal, with Chelsea looking to find Charlie Musonda regular playing time. My personal wild card choice? Danny Welbeck. Bournemouth have shown a willingness to make a splash in seasons prior, and if Arsenal are willing to play ball who knows.
Avoiding relegation will always represent some level of success, can they make a push for the top half? Develop young players already at the club and entertain the fans. Hold on to best players.
My (way too early) Prediction: 10th
The Premier League’s midtable is impossible to predict, but a points tally in the mid 40’s should see them safely wedged between European football and the battle for survival. Bournemouth are the ideal small club right now. They punch above their weight whilst looking like they belong. Their playing style entertains the fans under the stewardship of a potential England manager and they have a fun core of players to root for. It should be another sunny season on the south coast.