AFC Bournemouth have all but secured their status as a top-flight club for the 2018/19 season.
It means the Cherries will be competing in the Premier League for a fourth successive season, an incredible achievement considering the events that were taking place just nine short years ago.
Last season, AFC Bournemouth finished the season in 9th place in the Premier League on 46 points, a mid-table finish looks highly probable again, whilst some established top-flight sides are fighting to avoid the drop to the Championship.
But have the Cherries improved this season?
Despite one or two really promising additions to the regular team (Ake and L Cook), we have rarely played well this season. Despite the fact that we are virtually assured of another year in the Premier League, the season has – for me – been the most disappointing and least enjoyable of the past 10 years. We seem to have taken a step back in our year on year progression, and I suspect our final league position and points total will reflect that.
I think the league has been easier this year. Talking to a Newcastle fan in the week who says it’s the easiest it’s been for ten years. He can’t believe a squad that poor with no centre-forward can finish eighth and a squad as dismal as Huddersfield’s can stay up.
I agree with him.
Some people on here won’t though as it might mean looking objectively at their own clubs performance.
We were blessed with a swashbuckling all-out attacking side for a couple of seasons and it’s a tough ask to keep that style.
I do think we are more effective with an energetic pressing style but often we lack that intensity enabling teams to play through us. Lack of goals from Josh King has been a major difference with last year. I also felt the three signings were at the expense of the best three players last year; Cook (ake), King (Defoe) and Boruc (Begovic) so didn’t think the signings made a big change in the team.
There have been highlights: staying up (hopefully) is a real achievement esp after a bad start, beating Arsenal and Chelsea, beating Brighton, two of the most amazing Afcb goals of all time in Daniels and Defoe, seeing Defoe score in an Afcb shirt again, first Afcb international for England, Nathan Ake, playing at Wembley and hopefully finishing above saints! That isn’t a bad list!!
..I think that is is difficult to improve with players like Francis and Daniels who have given their best to AFCB but now look poor in this League. The standard of The PL reflects the massive gap in money with Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal in a League of their own…the rest are what is left to make up the numbers, with the exception of Burnley and Leicester the rest have flirted with the bottom of the table…not sure the standard is particularly worse than before, just a simple fact of clubs that probably have the best managers will survive as in our case. What Howe does over the summer will shape if we can continue in The PL next season to establish ourselves. There is the biggest amount of rebuilding to be done I fear for us compared to the rest?
The team is better on paper now than the previous two seasons but shoring up the leaky defence has cost us too much of our attacking verve. Honestly feels like we’ve lost our identity.
King bangs in 16 goals last year, of which nearly all come playing with Afobe, yet Eddie hardly played them together this year! Yes, they started poorly but how many games did they actually start together? Don’t think it was more than 4 or 5 before Afobe became a regular 70 min sub in before his loan.
This wouldn’t be a problem if we had anyone else capable of playing together but there was absolutely no chemistry between any combination of Wilson/King/Defoe and Mousset. What’s more, King would often be relegated to the wing to accommodate Wilson or Defoe. Both of whom were woefully inconsistent. It looked for one or two games like Wilson and King would be a force but they are both too selfish to work together.
End result is King looks like he no longer gives a ****, Afobe is courting Wolves and distancing himself from us, Defoe is too old and still has 2 years left on big money and Wilson still looks 50/50 on whether he’ll prove himself at this level after his injuries. Thankfully at least Mousset has shown good progression this year.
So while on paper we have a better team this year than the previous 2 seasons. I think we’d hypothetically lose over 2 legs to both of them. One because last years team had a clear identity and were on good form and the first season because we still knew how to score and would have outworked this team by a mile.
Have we improved? No, I don’t think so. This is the PL season I have least enjoyed yet we seem to have avoided relegation with more ease than the last two seasons. So EH and the team must get some credit for that.
Couldn’t agree more about King. Have been saying all season that he should play right up top. Wilson has been good in flashes but has clearly lost some pace (despite what he says in public) and I think Howe has been too loyal to him.
If Francis, Daniels, Gosling and Ibe remain first team regulars next year I think we will be in trouble.
Without Akes awareness and other skills, we could have finished near WBA. If you couple that with the fact that our reputation as an attacking force has now made other managers plan more carefully against us and punish us more when we give the ball away cheaply. In a strange way, we are not ‘little Bournemouth’ anymore with that surprise element we brought with us in 2015. The main difference to Burnley is their defensive quality. If we can build around L.Cook and Ake we can progress but it has to be more ruthless now. Fraser, Smith and Mousset are positives. Ibe started to shine in the middle of the season but also can be a passenger and liability so remains an enigmatic asset. Eddies got plenty to work on in the summer.
Felt sorry for Charlie last night, battling away 100%, still plenty of skill too, but he just looked shattered physically and emotionally in that and the Liverpool game! I think Callum should try and develop some other edge to his game, instead of getting his body entwined with defenders every time he gets in the box – the refs are not buying it – potentially he could be a Jimmy Greaves!! For me, our player of the season is Smith!
In a number of areas, we have improved. The signings of Begovic and Ake, and the development and integration of L.Cook, Mousset and Ibe, have been successes for me. The first 3 of those players have given us a more stable core, which has meant we’ve been a little less flaky yet a little less adventurous. Because we haven’t needed to score 3 goals to win a game. That is a good thing in my view. Ibe and Mousset are still a bit hit and miss, so our attack hasn’t always been as clinical as it could be. That will come given more time.
Other players have declined as you’d expect, overall we aren’t better than last season, we’re probably about the same. But standing still whilst developing new players into the side is a success in of itself. So many clubs jump up a division or two with a core of players, who decline and cannot be replaced causing the club to fall back again. This was always a danger for us. So staying about the same whilst the composition of the side evolves is fine by me.
We’ve seen a lot of draws this season, and that is a trend reflected in the wider league as a whole, there’s not much to choose between most of the league and a lot of draws across the division and a heavily congested league table are the result of that.
When we first came up we were an unknown quantity. Very few promoted teams attacked the PL like we did in our first season and that momentum was enough to keep us up.
Last season was a very poor league. Hull, Boro and Sunderland were woeful and if we’d gone down that season we seriously would have messed up. We also benefitted by King exploding into life as a goalscorer. As a team, we might not have been an unknown quality, but King still was and opposition teams hadn’t figured out how to stop him at that point.
This year the league is stronger. We have improved our quality and developed a few more tactical variations to our game. But opposition teams have learnt how to play against us and King hasn’t hit the same heights.
So it might appear we have gone a bit backwards this season, but if we could find the right tactical variations for our attacking options to gel better and add a couple of upgrades to our weakest links, then we aren’t going to be far away from challenging for a top 8 place next year.
Last season we were in 10th place after 35 games on 41 points. This one place below with 3 points less, having lost our last two games against top three sides. Also, 10 points off a relegation spot, having played 1 game more.
This season Saints have 2 games in hand before tonight, but still 10 points behind us.
So how you look on our season, it must be put down to a successful one as we will be in the Premier League for a fourth season running.
Just being in the Premier League is a success and a dream come true for a lot of our older fans who were used to watching League 1 and 2 football for years.
Eddie has done a brilliant job, along with his assistant Jason Tindall.