Thursday, 28 August 2014

Ward's required surgery will stretch the squad

I was sad to hear that Elliott Ward will have to have an operation on his knee following the Exeter Capital One Cup match and is likely to be out of action for two months. Elliott was really only coming back to fitness after he had been recovering from a bash on his knee from running into a hoarding last season, when playing against Leicester City. It means that Baily Cargill is likely to feature more for the Cherries and apparently Ian Harte and Simon Francis have also played in a centre back role before and could act as further cover. One would expect Adam Smith to play as as a full back if necessary as well if Simon Francis moved across to the centre.
Elliott Ward will be out for two months.
All squads have a period when they are a bit stretched and if another injury occurs to a Cherries centre back the team selection will need some careful managing. I doubt that Eddie Howe sees some of the solutions as ideal but in Baily Cargill he has a player who is just getting better every game he plays. Still if Baily has to play with Cook or Elphick it would still be a fairly new partnership and I expect that a lot of work is being done in training to get some better understanding for Baily especially who is likely to have to fill in at some point. 
Cook and Elphick are most likely to start against
Norwich City, but Cargill could also feature.
Elliott Ward, 29, has again been unfortunate and as one of the club's most experienced centre backs I would expect to still see him try and recover as quickly as he can and to be around the team to give advice and support while he is out of the team. Meanwhile, Steve Cook and Tommy Elphick have shown that they are able to keep clean sheets and will be trying again for the Norwich match. Sadly for former Norwich player, Elliott Ward will miss the match he perhaps most wanted to play a part in, although he can use the return fixture (10th Jan 2015) as motivation to recover quickly.

Can Adam Smith compete with Francis long term for a starting place?

I was really pleased with how well Adam Smith took his chance against Nottingham Forest when Simon Francis pulled up in the week with a thigh strain. It is not how Adam would have wanted to earn a starting place in the team but now that he is there he showed the attacking intent that is sure to have caught Eddie Howe's eye. There was more than a couple of occasions when he broke down the right with lightening speed and good control in the Forest match, linking with Matt Ritchie and Yann Kermorgant and getting right to the byline or into the box with shooting chances. 
Smith looks capable of starting more games this season.
At times it looked like Bournemouth had a new signing as we have not seen a great deal of Adam even if he has been playing some of the pre-season games. His shooting is something that he may find earns him more of a chance of playing more regularly if he can start hitting more of those shots into the back of the net. His conversion rate though is not as high as it might be which is one of the edges Francis probably has over him. Another is that Francis has become better at his defensive positioning and is not so often stretched when running back these days. The crosses that Fancis provides are another quality that have made him the favoured number 2. 

So Adam has his work cut out on retaining his place when Francis is fit again, but the versatility of Smith is another factor that I believe is a strong point for him and as the season progresses we may see Adam even play a bit higher up the pitch. I always feel though that if you are playing in the wing back position, while you can get forwards at times you have to be an even better defender as a team needs its wing backs to recover quickly to retain the defensive shape of the back four. If you are a yard or two behind, it is common for a Championship team to punish you. But playing games will help Smith fit in more and I believe he deserves this time as he has many assets which will be beneficial for the Cherries.      

Top man - Marc Pugh

I have tried several times to get an interview with Marc Pugh and I am sure I will succeed one day soon. He has always seemed very content at AFCB and his start to the season has been to almost revitalise his touch and goal scoring prowess to new levels. I am sure a stable and happy family life is very beneficial to him as it is for a number of the Bournemouth players and Marc seems to really get what the club means to the fans and he always puts in a shift.

Pugh has started the new season well.
I believe that the intense competition that is now available to Eddie Howe on the wings has made a difference to Marc Pugh in particular. He has responded with performances that suggest that he wants to play and indeed should play while he is in good form. At Huddersfield I did not see so much of the Pugh and Daniels link up on the left as we are perhaps used to when the two play but there certainly is a growing understanding between Ritchie and Pugh. Marc has started to gamble a little more often to get on the end of crosses and get into the box when Ritchie is busy creating.

The slight injury to Ryan Fraser in pre-season gave Marc the chance to make the left wing position his for the moment, but I don't expect Ryan Fraser is going to be long in putting more pressure for that place very soon. You could see that going the wrong way with some players who could get annoyed at being left out, but it is not evident at AFCB. Eddie Howe has said that the idea is to rotate this season especially in the forward positions and I can see that happening on the wings as well. The hard format of the Championship lends itself to having a squad that is equally talented and Eddie Howe wants a squad that is no weaker when anyone member is not available. The players all seem to thrive on this at the moment and it will be very interesting to see how much rotation there is during the season.

Ryan Fraser played most of the game against Exeter and he will be keen to see if he can get back into the line up for more league matches, having started alongside Pugh in the Northampton Capital One match the other night. Even Pugh though was a sub against Blackburn and missed the Forest game, so it will have been good for fans of the Cherries to sing out a familiar name again during the Northampton match - "Puuuugh!"   

AFCB have drawn Cardiff City away in the Third round of the Capital One Cup on either 23 or 24 September 2014. The full draw can be seen on the TalkSport website.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Norwich game comes at a price

I was noticing some of the comments on the social media devices that were posted once the Norwich City game ticket prices were announced on AFCB's website. Adult prices were set at £30 and I doubt whether there will be a more expensive day out for AFCB fans this season. We will have to see what they will charge at the Cottage and at Cardiff City, but all these clubs have some Premier League players still at their clubs and they are going to charge you to see them as the wages are going to be a problem even with the parachute payments I expect.
Hopefully Grabbs will not see too much of the ball when
 he meets up with his former team mates at Carrow Road.
This is particularly clear at Norwich where they have been buying a lot of new players ahead of the new season including our own Lewis Grabban, while Andrew Surman is also back at the East Anglian club. As fans though who want to see as many games as we can there will be many who have circled this particular game as a must see as two of our former players are now at the Canaries and they are probably seen as one of the favourites to get promoted. Norwich will have a pretty full home crowd you would think for most of their games and it may not matter to them much how many away fans they attract as a smaller number gives them an even bigger advantage on the pitch in terms of vocal support. But we have seen even a small away crowd can have a good day out in the Championship.
Andrew Surman will also be trying his best to slow
the Cherries down. It's going to be one of AFCB's toughest
games this season.
Whether our fans will be keen to make the trip is yet to be seen. I am actually away at the end of August and this will be one of those games that I can't go to even though I would have liked to have gone. But with two over 12s as well a price of £60 would probably have put me off any way. The away trip to Blackburn Rovers seems better value to many.  I think Championship clubs just like the Premier League do have to be mindful of what fans will willingly pay and while overall numbers for football viewing were said to be up last season when it is a particularly hard financial year we all have to make financial choices. Budgeting your games to watch in the Championship is becoming a bit of a preoccupation and I hope that the Cherries are also mindful of the price that they have asked for this season and what will be a fair price next season when it seems likely that a new stand will be built and the club tries to attract some more supporters. It is a balancing act and perhaps Norwich have priced themselves out for a few supporters this time around.  

The point about increasing prices in the Premier League and Football Leagues was protested on Thursday 16th August with a march in London organised by The Football Supporters Federation, and perhaps we are getting closer to the point when fans simply have to make a choice most weekend whether they stay at home or can afford to support their team.

Carlton Cole: would he have been a hit on the south coast?

I have been watching all the talk about Carlton Cole possibly coming to AFCB having started talks yesterday on a possible move from West Ham. While the striker has had a mixed career at the Hammers he has played many top flight games and he would be a big addition to a team like the Cherries who need that extra killer instinct at times during tight Championship games. One Hammer's blog though was saying that the deal was off last night and that was endorsed by TalkSport.

While I can see why Eddie Howe would be interested in having Carlton Cole leading the line for the Cherries. AT 6ft 3in he is a bit of a different striker to what AFCB already have. Some movement of other players would ave been required, if Callum Wilson was seen as the player who can be released from the hold up play of Cole. Eddie Howe would have had to look to play Yann Kermorgant in the number 10 position if he were to keep three strikers on the field in a starting line up. The heading ability of Cole would be something that could bring many more goals for AFCB and with the extra striker Eddie Howe would have many  more options for different opponents. The asking fee seemed to be £1m and I don't think that was a bad price for a striker with Cole's experience, but if it is not to happen the Cherries are still showing that they have the ability to move for players quickly when they fit the profile that Howe wants.    

The question I wondered was whether Carlton Cole had the ambition and fight for the Championship and could he start scoring straight away anyway? He had scored seven times in 28 appearances for the Hammers last year and probably believes he is good enough to merit a move to another Premier League club. This would have been a big name signing for AFCB, but whether Cole or Sam Allardyce changed their mind it looks like the move has broken down.

What we can say is that it seems that Eddie Howe feels that the team has to have more fire power in front of goal if it is to make the step up to the next tier and there are a few days left in the transfer window if he still wants to sign another striker.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Cherries' Capital One run goes on after beating Northampton 3-0

The Cherries needed a win in  the Capital One Cup to get some momentum back in their Championship challenge. The side that Eddie Howe picked was not taking the competition lightly as many of the players were used to be first team starters. It was a slight concern to me that Elliot Ward was still not in contention for a place and Simon Francis was also not among the squad. Home fans would see Rantie and Pugh working up front together though and Gosling made his full home debut along with Baily Cargill. It was clever that Eddie also started with Cook, perhaps to get his confidence back up after the Blackburn game. On social media there were a few comments of ticket queues at the stadium while the game kicked off.

AFCB started well with Eunan O'Kane central to much of the good early work and the Cherries got their reward when Dan Gosling fired them 1-0 up on 21 minutes. The lead was soon doubled on the half hour mark by Brett Pitman who rounded the Cobblers' keeper. The second half saw more pressure from the Cherries and while Pitman took a heavy challenge he carried on. Ritchie and Wilson got some minutes as the Cherries tightened up for the last 20 minutes. It was Callum Wilson who extended the goal tally making it 3-0 with 11 minutes to go.

AFCB Offical Match Tweets

The teams are out at the Goldsands Stadium. Can #afcb book their place in the @CapitalOne_Cup 3rd round with victory over #ntfc? #AFCBvNTFC01: The game is underway here. #AFCBvNTFC #afcb

01: Early chance for #afcb as @marcpugh7 breaks free on the left but shoots wide of Archer's goal. #AFCBvNTFC

05: @eunan10 drills in a shot from the edge of the area but it goes narrowly wide. #AFCBvNTFC

07: Off the bar! O'Kane's thunderous shot from the edge of the area cannons off the crossbar: #AFCBvNTFC #afcb

09: Collins comes close for #ntfc but he can't direct his free header goalwards. Lively start here: #AFCBvNTFC

12: Rantie weaves his way around the #ntfc defence but his eventual shot trickles wide. #AFCBvNTFC

13: Cook is the latest #afcb player to come close - he heads Harte's corner over. Chances aplenty here: #AFCBvNTFC

21: Smith pulls the ball back for Gosling & he keeps his cool to slot it beyond Archer. 1-0 to #afcb #AFCBVNTFC

30: Pitman is put through one on one and cooly rounds the 'keeper, before slotting home. 2-0 to #afcb. #AFCBvNTFC
35: Mohamed fires the ball over the bar from the edge of the area. A rare chance for the visitors. #AFCBvNTFC

40: Pitman meets Smith's cross, but he is well marked by the #ntfc defence and heads wide. #AFCBvNTFC

45: There will be two minutes of additional time played here. #AFCBvNTFC

Half time: #afcb 2-0 #ntfc. Goals from Gosling and Pitman ensure the Cherries lead at the break. #AFCBvNTFC

Second half

46: The second half kicks off. #afcb are kicking towards the Aerial Direct @SteveFletcher33 North Stand. #AFCBvNTFC

49: It's a yellow card for #ntfc's Collins for a nasty looking foul on Pitman: #AFCBvNTFC

50: The #afcb striker receives treatment from physio Steve Hard and looks ok to continue.

52: Fraser sends in a cheeky chip from the edge of the area, but Archer backtracks & it's an easy catch for him. #AFCBvNTFC

56: Rantie's quick feet deceive #ntfc & he forces Archer to save with his feet at the near post. #AFCBvNTFC

Tonight's attendance is 5,250 which includes 332 #ntfc supporters. #AFCBvNTFC
65: Fraser is caught late by Diamond, with the referee awarding #afcb a free-kick in a dangerous position. #AFCBvNTFC

65: Pitman's free-kick rebounds back off the wall. #afcb still lead #ntfc 2-0 here. #AFCBvNTFC

70: Rantie receives treatment before being replaced by Wilson, whilst Pugh also makes way for Ritchie. #AFCBvNTFC

72: Archer reacts quickly to push Wilson's close-range shot away, before Pitman blasts the follow-up over. #AFCBvNTFC

75: Fraser plays a neat one-two with Wilson before unleashing a shot which goes wide of Archer's goal.

79: Archer parries Gosling's effort away from goal, but it's straight at Wilson who heads home from close range. 3-0 to #afcb. #AFCBvNTFC

82: Final substitution for #afcb as Pitman is replaced by Stanislas. #AFCBvNTFC

Full time: #afcb 3-0 #ntfc. Goals from Gosling, Pitman and Wilson ensure #afcb are into the third round. #AFCBvNTFC

Camp, Smith, Cook, Cargill, Harte, Fraser, O'Kane, Gosling, Pugh, Pitman, Rantie

AFCB Subs:
Flahavan, Kermorgant, Wilson, Ritchie, Daniels, Stanislas, Elphick

Callum Wilson is a live wire

It did not perhaps need a genius to see that Callum Wilson is a player that would fit into many teams in the Championship with an ability to unleash a goal rush in terms of fire power if he was given the right kind of supply. AFCB have luckily landed his talent and it was fascinating to see him going about his work at Huddersfield and against Brentford and Nottingham Forest.

Callum Wilson has started his AFCB career in great style.
Any defence that plays a high-line against Callum will find that he has pace to burn and unless you have electric centre backs he will get in on goal at some point during the 90 minutes. Every time you saw Arter, O'Kane and Francis look up at Huddersfield it was more often or not to see whether Callum was on the last man's shoulder and ready to be released. The second half of that game saw Callum become even more of a threat in my opinion as he had tired the Huddersfield defenders out and was able to find gaps almost at will. It may become a bit predictable just to lob a ball over the top or around the corner for Wilson to run on to but there will be a lot of that this season. He appears more direct than Lewis Grabban and his appetite or goals was clearly shown in that he wanted the penalty having already scored two goals.
Callum already has his sight on being the Championship's top goalscorer.
If this is how good Callum is now he can only look to be the top Championship goalscorer and if he achieves that he will be another player that the Cherries will have to try and keep on to, but that would be easier if they can get promotion of course. While that dream is a long way away, the players have certainly set out to cause other teams lots of problems with their attacking play and if that means less defensive problems for the Cherries then all bodes well for a good season.

Tonight AFCB play Northampton Town in the Capital One Cup Second Round, so hopefully if Callum plays he can get on the score sheet and help the Cherries to a much needed win at the moment. With Brett Pitman and Callum Wilson playing last weekend though, I fancy Tokelo Rantie to be the main striker tonight.