Date: 11th May 2020 at 8:00am
Written by:

Written by kirsikka

Preview
Yann Kermorgant’s football career might never have happened. Aged fourteen he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and that took four years away from his development. After winning that battle he then defied the odds and his doctor’s predictions to finally break into the ranks of professional football.

When he signed for AFC Bournemouth on 31st January 2014, we were 14th in the Championship and still finding our feet at that level. When he left on 20th January 2016 we were 15th in the Premier League and the story of the club had been changed forever.

He scored 27 goals and made 14 assists in 69 appearances for the Cherries, notching a goal at the rate of more than one every 81 minutes. More than just the stats though, he was absolutely instrumental in our Championship winning season. A powerhouse in the air that made you want to see crosses pumped into him until you saw his genius when he had the ball at his feet. He had that certain je ne sais quoi that could get a whole stadium standing. It left you wanting the ball to be crossed to his head and passed to his feet at the same time!

Hugely popular with the fans during his stint at Dean Court, equally so almost everywhere he played, his is a name that will go down in club folklore.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Older fans may still wax lyrical about Phil Boyer and what he did alongside Ted MacDougall. I no longer feel even the slightest tinge of jealousy at not having been born to have watched them in action. Forevermore I will be able to see your Phil and raise you with Yann.

If you missed this series from the start flick back to Part One, click here.

To view Part Two, click here.

Promotion

I’m sure you’ve heard many versions of this but I never supported AFC Bournemouth expecting us to reach the top tier, maybe not even the second. When we came up to the Championship I resolved to enjoy it whilst it lasted. Then, at some point in the title-winning season, it started to feel different and like we were genuine contenders. For me maybe it was after the 8-0 since that was such an outlandish score. At what point did you start to think we were truly in the mix at the top?

“Almost after the first game because as I said before, I was really confident at the end of the previous season. We all came back for preseason really fit and that showed the motivation of the squad to achieve something

“For me, the only question was: “Did we replace Lewis Grabban?”

“I saw the qualities of Callum during the preseason, especially with his pace, and I thought we could be a really good striking force so when we won 4-0 away at Huddersfield and he scored a brace I was convinced we could be one of the best teams in the league…

What was the most nervous time for you that season?

“I remember 2 massive games against Watford and Middlesbrough at home but the ones for me were Birmingham at home and Brighton away. It was the beginning of April and Birmingham at home was a must-win but we were 2-0 down after 20 minutes and potentially losing our automatic promotion spot… being 2-2 at half time was a big relief and we finally won that game 4-2!

“Brighton away was for me a turn because we struggled to score and I felt quite confident we would be fine if we won that game. The tension was palpable, we didn’t play really good but managed to win in the last 20 minutes and after that, I felt we would be fine even if looking back to the other games (Reading away and Sheffield Wednesday at home) it was not that sure…

My notes: That game v Birmingham –

That game v Brighton –

As a striker, playing in a team that seems to be basing their intent on outscoring the opposition no matter how many that takes rather than trying to sneak a 1-0 win must be fun. Is that the most enjoyable tactical setup you’ve played in?

“Yeah, I loved to play in that team! The style of play was very enjoyable to watch as well. At Charlton, we played a little bit more direct with more long balls and flicks with my head while at
Bournemouth it was more based on balls on the ground into feet starting with the goalkeeper involved in the build-up play!

“We had a similar style of play at Reading with Jaap Stam and that was very impressive sometimes how we could play from the back.

Your scissor kick goal against Ipswich was pretty special. How much did you practise volleys like that in training?

“Where my parents live there is some land and when I was young some dads built a goal from wood so we could play football. There was a hedge on the left of the goal and much more space on the right so I was used to playing with a friend crossing from the right like Franno (Simon Francis) did so I can say the 😅 practice helped me! I remember sometimes ending in the hedge doing scissor kicks.

My note: See the goal in question –

We had some great wingers and overlapping fullbacks sending crosses in. Out of all of them, who do you think was the best crosser of the ball whilst on the run?

“I can’t choose one of them but the good thing was that they all had different types of cross.
Franno and Pughy (Marc Pugh) were more high crosses perfect for my head and Matty (Ritchie) and Chaz (Charlie Daniels) were more whipped crosses! But honestly, we had such good combos with them, they were definitely the best in the league!

Could any of the other players or backroom team speak French? If so, who was the best at it?

“😜 Not really, I spoke English well enough at this me so they didn’t even try to speak French

During your time at the Cherries, which defender gave you the toughest battles in training?

“I would say Tommy (Elphick) when he smashed my Achilles with a bad tackle from behind just before the season in the Premier League started so I couldn’t play the last friendly game of the season against Middlesbrough (had to come off after 20 min because I was limping)…

“Of course he didn’t mean it so that was just an accident.

What was your single favourite piece of play from you in an AFC Bournemouth shirt? Don’t be modest, tell it like you saw it!

“Of course my overhead kick is one of them but I love my free-kick against Cardiff at home or my assist to Callum against Birmingham to make it 2-2 at half time in such an important game. The assist was perfect at a difficult angle and I love those kinds of passes.

My notes:
The Birmingham assist (34 seconds in) –

The Cardiff free kick (1 min 52 seconds in) –

Did you ever read the fan-written reports of matches? If so, did they ever affect you?

“Yeah I did sometimes but I tried to not pay too much attention to them because you never know where they come from. And to be honest I was realistic enough to judge myself and know if I had played well or not…

In respect to the players on the pitch, I think nothing has made me sadder about our time in the Premier League than the amount of game time you got with us up here. As fans, we have to accept that the manager kept us up and so we can’t criticise the outcome but I think we all wanted to see your skills showcased more. What are your thoughts about that period?

“That will be my biggest disappointment from my career. I have not been given a chance to live my dream. I have not started a game in the Premier League which is a shame for me after the promotion season. I think I deserved at least a go, especially after all the compliments I received at the end of the season saying I was the last piece of the jigsaw and we would not be here without my signing… Unfortunately, I got a bit injured in training just before the last friendly game and was not at my best to push for a starting place but still, I thought the gaffer would start with the team that reached promotion at least for the first games of the season…

“I remember on Thursday before Aston Villa the manager called me to say I will be on the bench. It was a big disappointment but I was thinking the manager would make a few changes so I would not be the only one to be dropped! Finally on Friday, when we did the set plays, I realised I was the only one and I was replaced by Josh King.

“My first feeling was that I lost my place to a player who had just arrived from Blackburn (not Premier League) where he didn’t play much and scored only one goal. I was thinking I deserved more credit and if I don’t start the first games I might not even be on the bench when we sign players with Premier League pedigree so for me it was the end of the world.

“That day at training I showed him (Eddie Howe) I was fuming and he spoke to me after training.

“Friday night I didn’t sleep and couldn’t stop thinking it was so unfair I was almost crying in my bed… my dream was over!

“Saturday, match day, I felt so tired because of the awful night, I felt drained badly and when I had to come on quite early because Kingy was knackered I was out of my body. It was a weird feeling when I came on because I should have been happy to come on for 30 minutes and show him he made a mistake but I knew I would be struggling and the total opposite happened, I was a writeoff! My legs were weak, my back was painful and my brain couldn’t forget the disappointment of feeling betrayed by not starting the game and condemned to watch my teammates realise their dream from the bench. And what was supposed to happen just happened. I had a terrible 30-minute cameo and my career at Bournemouth was over just like that!

“All I just said is my feeling when that happened, of course, it was nothing against Kingy who is a great guy and a really good player who has established himself at Premier League level, or even the manager who did his job and who I really appreciate. It was just a sad moment and really harsh to take but football is not about feelings and loyalty and I had to accept it.

Looking back, do you think you could have done anything differently to have changed the situation or, from your perspective, do you feel you delivered all that you were asked to do in training?

“Not really even if you can always do differently.
“In pre-season, you do lots of fitness tests and even if I did the fitness program during my holidays, one more me I was not the best so far at the Yo-Yo test but nothing different to the seasons before.
“The problem for me was that for the Premier League the manager wanted quick strikers so I was not fing that role and I had to move on. So I decided to leave in January in order to play…

My note: After receiving Yann’s answer I looked up the Yo-Yo test. It sounds painful! You can read more about it here: https://www.theyoyotest.com/

The last instalment with Kermorgant will be online Tuesday 12th May at 7am.

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