Saturday, 28 May 2016

A poor end of the season but what's next for AFCB?

Even our beloved Eddie Howe is under pressure when his team suffers a run of defeats like it has at the end of this season. While Eddie himself finds defeat hard to deal with and to get over, he is aware that his side has not performed in the last eight games or so to his satisfaction and it has left a bit of a bad memory in what has been a great first season at the top level.
3 While there is a pre-season and new season just around the corner, it is now that Eddie and his coaches must find out why they had this poor run and how to stop it next time. We know that they faced the top teams one after another in April, but if the side had not had victories against Man Utd and Chelsea earlier in the season then they would have been relegated without those six points. In other words relegation was not far away and there is no guarantee that AFCB will be able to beat such top sides next season. 
What will we see at Dean Court next seasons - more home wins hopefully.
Although there will be funds for new players, I get the feeling that there will not be a rebuilding of the side from front to back. Instead it will be minor modifications and trying to get more out of the payers that have gained a bit more experience now. The side is fairly young and with new contracts for Adam Smith and Steve Cook, it is clear that Eddie Howe is not looking to dispense with many from the current squad who are on long contracts. I am not sure that he has much room for manoeuvre anyway as the salaries of the players are the most expensive outgoings and if the club was some £40m in the debt in the Championship we can expect that its first season in the Premier League was even bigger with the signings of Glenn Murray, Juan Iturbe, Benik Afobe, Artur Boruc, Max Gradel, Tyrone Mings, Josh King, Adam Federici, Sylvain Distin, Lewis Grabban and Rhoys Wiggins.

In other words, even with the lucrative Premier League deal of £120m or so, AFCB need to keep its house in order and if it has a debt that needs reducing it has to play the transfer market cleverer than it has in recent seasons. To recoup, it needs to sell players at good prices and that is not something we have seen of late. 

Check out our Euro 2016 tab to read - Arter and Rashford are fine on the big stage

Friday, 27 May 2016

Adam Federici should not be happy playing No2 to Boruc

Today we will see England take on Australia in a friendly at the Stadium of Light. While most England fans will be watching the form of their heroes against a tidy Australian team who play for a country that of course do not like to lose anything when it comes to sport, especially to the Poms. Adam Federici will also line up for the Aussies in this game against players that he has faced in a few games in the Premier League but for him it is a real opportunity to show AFCB fans how good he is.

Adam Federici should be aiming to be no1 in 2016-17.
Adam Federici should not have been pleased at playing so few AFCB games this last season - 12 in all. He has been the number two to an Artur Bouc who has been injured for much of the season and yet he has not been able to dislodge the Polish keeper from being the main starter between the sticks. While the cup matches have kept Federici in some kind of form it is not ideal for any national keeper to be having to wait for chances to get on the pitch as a number two. He can start to try and address that by performing well tonight. I find his shot stopping as good as most top-flight keepers but he does make mistakes and does not perhaps fill the goal as well as Boruc in terms of size.

It is also a bit comfortable for Federici to be a replacement at AFCB if Boruc has a problem. While Adam still gets picked for his country he has no big worries about trying to grab the top shop at earn Court while below him I wonder how hard he is pushed by Ryan Allsop? 

There are only a few keepers that get to play for their country and in the Premier League and Federici has to start seeing himself as a keeper that must start games. He'll have his work cut out tonight against the young Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli, but he could not ask for a better stage to pull off some sensational saves to get the attention of his manager and those who wonder if he really is a keeper that is challenging Artur Boruc for that AFCB shirt.

Also in the action
Harry Arter and Eunan O'Kane could also be in action against the Netherlands for the Republic of Ireland in their friendly.

Adam Federici is only on the bench!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

What’s the real end game for Eddie Howe?

With only three English managers left in the Premier League it is no wonder that Bournemouth’s manager has been talked about in the national media as a coach that could go much further in the game. Danny Murphy and Jamie Redknapp been quick to try and ask whether Howe should be given a bigger job than AFC Bournemouth, but let’s look seriously at what he has on the south coast.

The Cherries are an up and coming team. He has built the squad and knows exactly what it is capable of and where he needs to develop it, which he can certainly do now with the lucrative funds that are coming into the club.
Even Eddie has to step up his performance next season.
Ambition is something Eddie Howe was questioned about before he finally took the Burnley job but by changing club you are entering a whole new set of variables that are difficult to evaluate from the outside. Eddie Howe has time on his side of course and might one day decide that he should face new experiences. He has repeated time and time again thought that he won’t move while Maxim Demin is in charge at the club and the duo seem set on taking the seasiders as far up the league as they can.

It was intriguing that Peak6 CEO, Matt Hulsizer, was outspoken enough earlier this year to ask why can’t the Cherries set their goal at winning the Premier League. It may not seem such a wild dream having seen what the Foxes have done, although Howe himself was quick to deny that they weren't a Leicester City in the making. If that is not the immediate goal then what is it?

Staying in the Premier League and developing the side and the club as a whole are the immediate aims, but with the ‘anything is possible’ tag attached to the club, have the fans really thought what can be achieved? What can a team of players who have come up through the leagues do together under a manager that only fears not winning? I think there is a freedom about what Eddie Howe can do now as his players know what he wants having been with him for a while. That should give him a freshness to experiment and test himself. He deserves to be given some time to see what he can do in familiar surroundings – he’s comfortable but knows that like all managers he is only as good as his last game.

Is there an end game then for Eddie? I suggest that he will know when that is but at the moment he is just getting familiar with the Premier League and its intricacies. Having completed a season in it he is now armed with far more knowledge about what is required to be a continued success. He has turned the team around when it has been on a bad run and has managed to overcome a season of injuries to key players, but the test that he will most want to achieve is longevity in the job. Luckily for AFCB fans he seems rather keen at doing that at Dean Court.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Is Baily Cargill ready for the big time?

With the departure of experienced defender like Sylvain Distin this week there is already mentions of AFCB looking out for new defenders. I ask though is it time that Baily Cargill made his presence felt in the first team and show fans that the AFCB youth system can produce Premier League stars?
Baily Cargill before the FA Cup game against Pompey.
Baily is certainly the closest home-grown player that the club has to making a start in the Premier League and with the likes of Josh Wakefield and Josh Carmichael among those who have already been released by the club this summer, it is easy to question whether there are enough players coming through the system at Dean Court. AFCB have been accused of buying their way out of the Championship and like so many Premier League clubs they seem prone to prefer looking into the global market place rather than find room to promote youth. 

Baily could be an exception. He is already an England U20 international and he has a calmness on the ball that has been coached into him from an early age. He can keep playing the odd FA Cup match and be on the periphery of the first team, but sometimes players learn quickest when they are thrown in at the top level. This season we have seen West Ham give an early debut to 17-year-old Reece Oxford against Arsenal in the first game of the season having already played in the Europa League. Then there is WBA's Jonathan Leko who started against AFCB in May - he's another 17-year-old and what can we say about Marcus Rashford. While Rashford is at a huge club he still has managed to breakthrough. 

So is Eddie Howe giving youth a chance or is he holding it back? How much exposure should any manager give to inexperienced juniors when they are up against seasoned internationals in the Premier League. It's a hard call to make, but if the players shows the ability and aptitude to deal with the pressures then surely there comes a time when age should not come into it. Baily may get his opportunity now - I just hope he takes it when it comes.

Transfer News
Ryan Allsop has secured a new two-year deal at AFCB. The Cherries are also reported to be tracking Besiktas defender Alexander Milosevic. Man Utd's Michael Carrick is also a potential target for AFCB but would Eddie stump up £80,000 a week for such a player when Man Utd want to keep him? I think not.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Will AFCB be any better placed than Burnley or Boro next season?

It is hard to believe that only a year ago AFCB were sitting in the position that Burnley now have after winning the Championship. The prospect of Premier League football though for the Lancashire side is not such a earth shattering step as it was for AFCB though as they have been there before as recently as 2013-14. Middlesbrough are another team that are not exactly new to the exposure of the top league and you wonder whether AFCB are in any better position than the clubs about to come up.

While the thought of 38 games in a new season is perhaps a long way from the players' thoughts at the moment it will be very much in the mind of Eddie Howe. He will have to assess not only the transfers of players for his own team and the established clubs that his side played last year, but he'll also be keeping watch over the new boys of Burnley, Middlesbrough and one other - the Championship play-off winners - Hull City or Sheffield Wednesday. These sides all have larger grounds than AFCB and they have a history of taking on the best sides. While Sean Dyche has had a season in the Premier League it will be new for Aitor Karanka and if he thought the Championship was pressurised with his need to escape for a few games, he'll find it full on next season.
AFCB taking on Boro at the end of their successful 2014-15 Championship winning season.
I see both Burnley and Boro as better sides than Aston Villa and Newcastle and probably Norwich as well, so I don't expect any easy points against them. Burnley have players with the experience of playing at Old Trafford, Anfield, White Hart Lane etc, and they will be looking to get off to a better start than last time. Boro too will know that they have to pick up points early to get the confidence going and the fixture list will be keenly scrutinised by Eddie Howe when it comes out. 

None of the sides going down did particularly well early season and keeping out of the bottom three I believe is going to be harder. Burnley's problem will be to find another striker who can do well if Andre Gray gets injured or can't score many goals. Boro are perhaps defensively stronger but will they also get enough goals? AFCB have shown that you need to net at least 40 goals to survive - only just over one a game - if any of these sides can get up to 1-3-1.5 goals a game though they will have a comfortable season.

I do believe that AFCB can compete with Burnley and Middlesbrough more easily than some of the other teams, and having them in the league gives new reassurance that Championship sides can do well when they get promoted. If AFCB can survive again and two or more of the promoted sides also stay up, then the Premier League will have a look about it that is perhaps more dynamic than we will have seen in a long time, especially if Newcastle and Aston Villa don't get straight back up.

Players released by AFCB include: Sylvain Distin, Stephane Zubar, Josh Carmichael, Josh Wakefield, Mason Walsh and Jon Muleba.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Who is for the chop at AFCB?

There has been no announcement of which players are not going to be wearing an AFCB shirt next season but we can guess that one or two are more than likely packing their bags in anticipation of a sharp exit.

Top of the pile has to be Lee Tomlin who has done really well since he went out on loan in January to Bristol City. While there was the complimentary acknowledgement that Lee announced that he wants to prove himself at AFCB, he has probably seen a great opportunity melt away at AFCB. Lee has shown that when he concentrates on his football that he is a player that can do the business, at least at the Championship level and Fulham or Newcastle might well be in need of his services.

I don't think there will be too much delay on Glenn Murray also hanging around as he did not join the Cherries to miss out on match day squads or to sit on the bench. The signing of Benik Afobe really sent out a signal that his days are numbered and I wonder if he will entertain a return to Brighton where he did so well before.

The interesting striker who AFCB may have trouble in shifting is Tokelo Rantie. There was talk last winter that Malmo might be interested in having him back, but a string of injuries and non-appearances will make it hard for the club to demand a fee for him even though he still has a year on his contract to run. Maybe Russell Slade at Cardiff City will take him as he is said to be an admirer but Slade himself is linked to the manager vacancy at Blackburn Rovers.
Lee Tomlin probably tops the list for most AFCB fans to be sent packing.
There has to be a question mark over Bailly Cargill as well, because he needs to bring into the first team and to play regular football. With Simon Francis moving across to centre-half there is one less space available and it may enable Championship sides to consider trying to make a bid for the talented AFCB Academy graduate. I hope Bailly continues to fight for his place, but another long season on loan is surely on the cards for him. And what of Rhoys Wiggins? He has singed a two-and-a-half year contract but is he going to play any football at Dean Court? As soon as Tyrone Mings is back in full health surely Rhoys Wiggins will be looking for a fast train out of Bournemouth.

While Ryan Allsop has been on the loan track it is getting harder to see an improvement in his performances and it could be a parting of the ways this summer. Personally, I'd like to see at least one new keeper. Sylvain Distin had retirement already on his mind before coming to the south coast and I can't see him wanting to bench warm for another season down here. Juan Iturbe we can add to the list with his limited number of appearances that should alert clubs of the calibre of Malaga waiting in the wings. 

My gut feeling is that Eunan O'Kane and Shaun MacDonald will manage to stay around but still find it more or less impossible to get int the side, especially if Howe strengthens this area as expected. As mentioned before though in previous posts, there could be a surprise release from the squad that has served the club so well if Eddie Howe can find higher quality players within his budget - so watch out Elphick, Federici, Wiggins etc...

Euro 2016England trundle along with no organisation against the Turks

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Is Benik Afobe just a box man?

Among the many scenarios that have been played out in recent weeks with forwards swapping positions, it has been quite a surprise to see Benik Afobe playing in the number 10 role rather than as an out and out striker. The big man is perhaps not as agile as some of the club's other forwards but his willingness to improve his touch and general play should be admired.
What can Benik add to his game?
We are all very quick at pigeonholing where a player should play and with Eddie Howe he usually wants more from his players than that. Benik is a great box player and he scored goals in and around the box with excellent technique. I don't see Eddie trying to turn him into something he isn't but I do see that he wants the former Wolves striker to get better at other aspects of his game. In the long run, it will be useful option to have if injuries come along to other key forwards next season.

Whether it takes too much away from Benik's game is something that Howe and Tindall will have to consider. I'd hope that Benik is learning all the time as, even if he does not find hat the position is right for him, he will at least have a better understanding of what other players have to deal with when they are playing as a number 10, and that may make it easier for him to make his own runs as a number nine.

It has been a bit of a shame hat Benik has not kept his form going quite as well as when he first arrived at the club. His goals were priceless for keeping the Cherries up and he will have to try and show that he is a striker that can hold down a regular place in the side during pre-season. If that means he has to be adaptable, then he should do everything he can to play well in whatever role he is given to do for the team.