AFC Bournemouth’s return to the Premier League kicks off this weekend, with the visit of Aston Villa to Dean Court on Saturday.
The start of the new season is usually filled with excitement and for many, this season is no exception, especially with a return to the top flight of English football after an absence of two years away.
However, it would seem that that optimism and excitement is not shared by AFC Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker, who following the friendly with Bristol City last weekend bemoaned the strength of his squad, declaring that “we are a weaker squad and a weaker team than what we were at the back end of last season”.
His complaint, as a head coach is justified. The Cherries have seen eight departures since the end of last season. 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.
However, both of those new signings are injured, have missed some parts of pre-season and are doubts ahead of the weekend. Whilst a replacement at centre-back for Nat Phillips leaves the Cherries with just three fit centre-backs.
So optimism is lacking from the head coach, in fact, he doesn’t even believe the Cherries are even competitive heading into the start of the new campaign.
Following the defeat to La Liga side Real Sociedad, Parker told Dorset Live…
“…I don’t feel we’re competitive at this present moment in time.”
“…(we need) Signings. That’s no disrespect to what we’ve got. We lost Gary Cahill, we lost Nat Phillips, we’ve lost Leif Davis, we’ve lost Ethan Laird. We have three centre-halves in the building.
“At this moment, we need some help in that. Of course, there’s an element of training and tactics, but ultimately we need some help.”
How do you feel ahead of the new season? Where do you think the Cherries will be come the end of the season in May?
Expectations for AFCB in 2022/23
Top half finish
11th - 17th
18th or 19th
I mean I get being sensible with transfers and not spunking £100m up the wall like Nottingham Forest but we must be one of the only promoted clubs in the last 10 years to get to August having spent £0.00.
Seems clear that the board have no interest in staying up this season is merely a take the money and run exercise.
As a fan that does dampen the enthusiasm for the season if it’s clear we aren’t even going to attempt to compete before a ball has been kicked.
Take the money and run or take the money and invest in longer-term things than fees and contracts that do nothing more than temporarily allow us to paddle upstream?
If the training ground is being funded I have no issues with sticking two fingers up to the PL.
If the PL want promoted teams to invest in the team then they shouldn’t have spent decades doing all they can to pander to the six, closing off the top of the league to everyone outside them.
I care about AFCB. If we stay up then hoorah. If we go down, at least it’ll be with something other than more debt.
All that said, I’m still pretty sure there will be arrivals costing fees before the window closes.
At the end of the day, we were vastly understrength at the start of last season, we pulled off a 2-2 draw with then favourites West Brom, our team littered with youngsters and debutants and the rest is history.
If we start next Saturday with Hill and Mepham in defence then we start next Saturday with them, it may not be ideal but I’m sure we will make a go of it.
Either way, I’ll enjoy next Saturday, and a return to the PL, perhaps some of the doom-mongers on here could sit back and realise we are 6 days away from the PL and try and enjoy it, these things are out of our control.
Sleepy Cherry wrote…
Think if he’s trying to get a reaction from his superiors, fair enough. There is a point to his moaning. If he’s just moaning, though, he should bite his tongue because his comments won’t inspire the fans or squad (unless he has an aim behind it).
I also think we can be competitive. We just need to not play 3 at the back if we don’t have the players to do it. Play to our strengths (we have plenty of good midfielders). Not to our weakness. – Join the conversation, click here.