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Cherries facing challenges says Parker

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AFC Bournemouth faced Bristol City last Saturday at Dean Court, the first of two pre-season friendlies on the south coast ahead of the upcoming 2022/23 Premier League campaign.

The Cherries had previously enjoyed a pre-season training camp in Portugal and returned to Dean Court for the first time since enjoying the promotion celebrations on the pitch following the final game of the Championship season against Millwall.

Since that match, there have been quite a few changes in personnel for AFC Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker.

All of the loan players, Todd Cantwell (Norwich City) Leif Davis (Leeds United), Ethan Laird (Manchester United), Nat Phillips (Liverpool) and Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United) all return to their parent clubs, with Davis and Woodman making permanent moves since to Ipswich Town and Preston North End respectively.

Veterans Gary Cahill and Robbie Brady also left the club following the end of their short-term contracts with Brady joining Woodman at Preston North End and Cherries midfielder Gavin Kilkenny has joined Stoke City on a season-long loan.

It hasn’t however just been outgoings, with two new additions to the squad following promotion to the Premier League, the first was Ryan Fredericks on a free transfer from West Ham United. The second was Joe Rothwell from Blackburn Rovers, also on a free transfer.

Speaking after the friendly against Bristol City, which resulted in a narrow 1-0 defeat to a penalty, Parker told the Daily Echo

“We lost eight players at the end of last season and we brought in two.

“You’d say that, at this moment in time, we are a weaker squad and a weaker team than what we were at the back end of last season.

“They are the challenges we face in terms of trying to get some help in to support the current team and current players – for the next level of what we are going to – which is the Premier League…”

“…But, of course, we are active, we are trying to be active under tough circumstances which we have.”

Your say…

Sleepy Cherry wrote…

My thoughts are this. Meps gave away the penalty but I thought he did quite well before this, especially before he needed treatment. For me, he was the most commanding of our three centre-backs before the treatment. He won his aerials and made some really good forward passes. To say he was easily our worst performer is incorrect I think.

Lerma did a job and passed the ball forward well like Meps did at times. It is a waste him not being in midfield, but he can cover there and has done for his country.

Hill did alright considering his game time. He didn’t really do anything particularly special but didn’t mess up either. One thing I noticed he looked to the bench for instruction a few times.

Zemura seemed lost as a wing-back, isolated without a left winger in support and struggled even more than usual to get back and defend. If he’s being played as a wing-back, he needs more support from the others.

Smithy isn’t comfortable as a wing back. Christie and he didn’t link up well. For me, Stacey is more natural in this role or Fredericks. Smithy either as a right back or a right centre back.

Billing was playing a little too deep for my liking, but he went on some nice little runs in the second half.

Rothwell looked great. If he’s going to play number 8, and Zemura is LWB, they will have to build up a stronger understanding and Rothwell will need to help JZ out more so they can overlap.

Christie huffed and puffed but didn’t do so much apart from a nice shot/cross in the first half. He and Smithy just didn’t work well together. Christie was lucky to not get booked for some fouls.

Cook did alright but again nothing spectacular.

All in all, it wasn’t the best but it was a friendly, so no big deal really. One thing that was obvious to me is that we shouldn’t play 3 at the back against weaker opposition. The point of the wing-back formation is being able to break when you are doing a lot of defending. When you know you’re going to have the ball a lot of the time, this formation doesn’t work. We need to be flexible and play this formation against the very strong teams but not against the likes of Southampton, Fulham and Forest. – Join the conversation, click here.

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