Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Changing shape but same passing principles

The Norwich match saw AFCB set up in a 4-5-1 formation which is not something they have done for a while. Neil Adams viewed it as a compliment in changing shape for his team and Eddie Howe admitted that he felt the Cherries needed a stronger midfield to cope with Wes Hoolihan. As it turned out, AFCB managed to retain more of the possession than Norwich but without having such a goal threat going forwards.

Against the bigger teams, it is likely that Howe will set-up similarly to this with Gosling, Arter and O'Kane trying to stifle the opposition and outnumber them by swarming over the midfield area. The ability of Callum Wilson though to take the fight to the opposition as the loan striker is a huge mantle. However, he seems more than capable of ruffling feathers among the opposition's centre backs and will get better the more often he plays that role. 

AFCB's goal against Norwich will be hard as a team goal to beat. 

An incredible 31 passes and Norwich just could not 
get near the ball. You can't tire of seeing this.

It is still hard to see the talent of Yann Kermorgant though on the bench and how often Eddie Howe chooses to do that will be something that he'll consider carefully. Eddie himself said that: "Yann was a victim of the system we chose to play," when speaking on the Norwich game. But that system still relied on a constant that we have seen for many season's now at AFCB - slick passing. Without the control and movement off the ball that AFCB's players now produce, the match would have ended up being one Norwich attack after another. But the principles that Eddie has installed in the team are really shining through and every supporter can see that the Bournemouth players are keen to take the ball in difficult situations, as they know it is the best way of moving opposition players out of place to gain an advantage and space with which to attack.

At home, Eddie has played before with one up front when Grabban was at the club but it looks like Callum Wilson could do be used in that way if necessary. When Yann came to the club, it was back to 4-4-2 more often than not, but we have also seen the Cherries play three at the back when pressing a game, and the flexibility of the players to be comfortable on the ball is what has helped them fit into different systems so well and change their style during a course of a match. Some how though I would expect the team to revert back to 4-4-2 for the visits of Rotherham and Leeds Utd, with Andrew Surman set to make a home return appearance.

Kyle Cotter has been busy ahead of tonight's cup matches. He profiles Southend's Conor Clifford ahead of the Football League Trophy tie with AFC Wimbledon and previews the Peterborough v Leyton Orient Johstone's Pain Trophy match - see Kyle's Cups.

Michael Dunne also released his All Departments' podcast last weekend. If you have not heard it you can listen to the sound bar on the right hand panel on Cherry Chimes or visit All Departments' website to hear more about Norwich 1 v 1 AFCB.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Surman the play maker returns to AFCB

It may not be a signing that has everyone jumping for joy at hearing that Andrew Surman is on his way back to playing for AFCB, but the qualities of the midfielder were intricately linked to some of the best form that the Cherries had last season. It is clear that Andrew is happy playing his football at Bournemouth in the second tier and Eddie Howe is delighted to have him back in red and black as a permanent three-year signing following last season's loan.
Will Surman's link up play with Callum Wilson ignite AFCB's season?
Options is what Eddie Howe seems to be looking for. Whether that means some players sitting out two or three games and then to be given two or three games themselves or some substitute appearances is not yet clear. But rotation can either give strength or sometimes sap the consistency of a regular team selection, so it is of particular interest that Eddie Howe sees Andrew Surman as a key figure to secure having chased his signature all summer from what we can assess from various football sites. Neil Adams has finally let go, but I don't think it was such a hard decision for Surman in the end.

For me, I saw Dan Gosling as a direct replacement for Surman and yet Howe has always said that he has admired the work rate, tempo and passing abilities of Andrew Surman. The fees has been reported to be around £500,000 which does not seem excessive for the experience Surman has, while we know that he will fit straight into any current system Eddie Howe wants to play having been at the club last season. That familiarity is a bonus with this signing and it will be just like having a player back rather than a new recruit. So the play maker has returned, and with him striking the balanced passes in the last third, AFCB have probably just given themselves a better chance of making the top six this season. Andrew will wear the number six shirt.

Let's see if there will be any further additions or dare I say it, departures tonight.  

Ritchie, Russell, Gradel transfer triangle

The task of picking up a new striker to bolster AFCB's squad has taken a new dimension after Derby County have registered an interest in Matt Ritchie. Whether Eddie Howe is so keen on Johnny Russell to allow Matt Ritchie to leave the club the other way is clearly something that AFCB would not have suggested, but the Cherries' pursuit of additional forwards has only seen Callum Wilson come to the club over the summer. Meanwhile, Junior Stanislas has rivalled Matt Ritchie for a starting place and no doubt Steve McClaren has noted this and wants to see if he can prise one of the Cherries star players away.
Matt Ritchie - a deadline day target for Derby County.
The ball is now in AFCB's court and I expect them to turn down Derby's request politely. While Johnny Russell may be a player that would add power to the forward line I don't see Eddie Howe wanting to reduce the number of wingers he has any further. The mixture of Ritchie, Stanislas, Pugh and Fraser has marked Bournemouth out as a team that is very expressive on the wings and with wing backs that cause plenty of problems in attack. 

With Carlton Cole having been Howe's first target, it may be that Johnny Russell is one of several other strikers that AFCB have been looking at. Two bids have failed though for Russell and McClaren has really tested the water to see how keen AFCB really are to secure his services. Eddie Howe has stated the he is keen to keep the squad together, but if there is another winger he knows he can bring in to replace Ritchie (like Max-Alain Gradel of St Etienne - who has been linked with AFCB over the summer), the switch could just be on. It is not a player swap that I think many AFCB fans would be pleased about though, as Ritchie has been a great signing since his move from Swindon Town. 

The transfer deadline ends at 11pm tonight so start biting those nails! UTCIAD!

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Not a clean sheet but Cherries are starting to tighten up

Lee Camp was only beaten once at Norwich.
Eddie Howe was very satisfied that the team had kept the number of chances that Norwich had on Bournemouth's goal to several long range chances. The one moment when things did go wrong was after 15 minutes when Lewis Grabban found himself in space and with a clear heading opportunity to put the canaries one up. A moments lack of concentration or a player out of position in this league is costly and if AFCB can just minimise such instances they will record more victories.

Lee Camp did not have that busy a game at Carrow Road and much of that has to be due to the way Tommy Elphick and Steve Cook where able to block out the threats for most of the game. In the end Lee had to face five shots that were on target and that is not bad at a ground where last year there was Premier League football. 

AFCB did more than enough to earn the point at Carrow Road and such games should give them the confidence they need to have a successful season. We saw last season that it is getting key results against the so-called favourites that really kick AFCB on and there won't be many harder places to go to. AFCB have had some tough examinations, but with almost two weeks to prepare for the next game there will be some aspects of the last three games that the Cherries will need to dissect to see what gaps they have been leaving in defence. 

SkySports writer Pete O'Rouke has said that Derby County have made an enquiry for Matt Ritchie, but I wonder how much it is just in reprisal for AFCB looking at Johnny Russell? 

Later today, Cherry Chimes' bumper September Newsletter will be released to fans that have asked for a copy to be sent to their email. There's an introduction to the start of the season -Back in play and special newsletter story entitled 'That winning feeling', as well as a look back at the top 8 stories on Cherry Chimes from August. If you have not yet signed up you can do so here and I'll soon get a copy over to you.

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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Happy where we sit

There won't be that many teams that come away from Carrow Road with a draw or better this season. For that fact AFCB could be more than happy with yesterday's result but in the wider scheme of things the Cherries are not that far off the pace-setters and can go into the international break knowing that they have made a decent start to their second consecutive season in the Championship.

That is not to say that Eddie Howe will not demand more of his troops. The points dropped against Nottingham Forest and Blackburn are games that he will seek to learn from and further challenge the players to see if they can go forward and improve upon those performances. Against Norwich City they have already shown that they can do this and the task is now to recapture a bit of lost ground on the front runners.
Junior Stanislas and Stan Gosling had a good day
against Norwich. Here they are pictured at Huddersfield.
As a whole though, you have to be pleased with the way that the new players have fitted into the team and been a positive force in the side. Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson have been uppermost in this more attacking emphasis that Howe has created while Dan Gosling is starting to play with more authority. The Norwich game was a good example of Eddie Howe changing things around to meet an opponent with a slightly different set up and it brought its rewards. Yann Kermorgant may well have needed a break but there has been nothing wrong with his play and yet it was felt that a solo striker was the best way to take on the Canaries. A similar set-up might now be used against other powerful teams when AFCB are playing away.

Meanwhile, the Capital One Cup run has been a good campaign and there is much to be pleased about in the introduction of Baily Cargill to the squad. So the international break comes at a good time and gives Eddie a couple of weeks with some of the players to just hone a few more things.

It was also great to hear that the Howe's have a new addition to their family as well.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Cherries hold Canaries to a draw: Norwich 1 v 1 AFCB

Match Description
Norwich City 1 v 1 AFCB
Attendance: 25,814

Most would have expected Yann Kermorgant to be among the 11 to take the field at Carrow Road in a Cherries' shirt but he found himself on the bench with Callum Wilson playing the lone striker, supported by Junior Stanislas and Ryan Fraser. Matt Ritchie also found himself among the subs as Ryan Fraser was ready to make a start. The idea looked to be to flood the midfield paying respect to Norwich City's good season start and to break fast with runners such as Gosling and Arter feeding the wings and Wilson.

Surprisingly Andrew Surman was out of the squad for Norwich, but Lewis Grabban started as expected and he did not take long to remind us all of just what a good striker he is. 

Jason Tindall explains the AFCB line up.

The match started well for AFCB with Hoolahan going in the book after 10 minutes bringing down Wilson. Norwich's tactic looked to be to bring players down however they could with a string of free kicks against them in the first quarter of an hour as AFCB frustrated them with their powerful running and passing. But all too soon AFCB had to defend and they did not do it well enough come the quarter hour mark. Nathan Redmond crossed to Lewis Grabban who headed the Canaries 1-0 up! Not what the first 10 minutes of play had indicated would happen but now the Cherries would really have to be more solid as Norwich would look to build on that lead. 

Grabban was finding a good deal of space in front of the Bournemouth back four and was able to get shots away even if wide. Lafferty as well was getting on the ball now. While Fraser and Francis were winning free kicks, Norwich were clearing their box regularly. AFCB's raids were quickly being closed down outside the Canaries' box. Towards the end of the first half it was Norwich dictating play and going close with Camp having to be wary of Lafferty in particular. But with two minutes of extra time at the end of the first half, Junior Stanislas started a terrific move with Simon Francis and his cross was a tap in for Callum Wilson to make it 1-1 at half time. Some major decision-making was now required by Eddie Howe to see how he could mastermind the best solution for the second half. There had only been five shots each in the first half and AFCB had only had the one on target, but it counted. Just two corners each as well, so quite a tight game with AFCB said to have 60 per cent of the possession.

We all wanted to know if Eddie Howe would keep it tight or gamble by bringing on another striker in the second half. It all would depend on the first 15 minutes of the second period I thought and how edgy that equaliser had made Norwich. Bradley Johnson fired an early warning shot in the second half but Camp was equal to it. Lafferty joined Turner and Hoolihan in the book after taking down Junior Stanislas. Johnston then follows him into the book after a poor challenge on Arter. Come the hour and Matt Ritchie replaced Ryan Fraser as AFCB looked for a lead.

Norwich's passing was starting to go astray and Murphy came on for Laffferty. Gosling and Wilson tried their luck from distance as the Cherries looked for an upset win. Pug was also on now for Stanislas. There are just signs at this point that AFCB are in control and Jerome replaced Redmond to try and regain the home team's upper hand. Simon Francis was the first AFCB player booked with 13 minutes remaining. Norwich were back on top and pressing for the win with Johnson laying especially well.

AFCB were playing on the break with Pugh hitting a shot right at Ruddy. Camp was called into action near the end with a dangerous free kick effort but he kept it out. While it was a tense last 10 minutes neither side could do enough to get the win and AFCB had managed a credible draw 1-1. AFCB stay 11th in the table.

Official Match Tweets from AFCB

01: We are underway at Carrow Road! #afcb line up in the expected 4-5-1, with O'Kane the deepest: http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

03: Lewis Grabban, with his back to goal in the #afcb box, finds some space, but his cut back finds no one: http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb

06: Cherries looking bright, getting balls into the box and keeping hold of possession well so far: http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

07: A neat back heel by Stanislas finds Gosling in space, but the former #nufc star blasts a long range effort over the bar: #NCFCvAFCB

10: A poor short corner from Grabban is foiled and Wilson breaks away. He's tripped cynically by Hoolahan who goes into the book. #NCFCvAFCB

15: Nathan Redmond finds Grabban unmarked in the box, and the striker heads straight past Camp.#ncfc 1-0 #afcb . bit.ly/ncfcvafcb

15 Goal to Norwich City. Lewis Grabban finds the net against his old club. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

26: Grabban picks the ball up 25 yards out and shoots from distance, but it goes wide of Camp's post. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

27: Lafferty has a first time effort from distance, but Camp holds well. #ncfc having the lion's share of possession now. #NCFCvAFCB

31: Michael Turner goes into the book for a late tackle on Callum Wilson. The resulting free kick goes straight to Ruddy. #NCFCvAFCB

Cherries need to make the most of the set pieces they are winning here - City have been impressive but have given some silly free kicks away and are struggling with their pace at times.

34: So far they are yet to test Ruddy though. (At this point just 3 shots each and just two on target both from Norwich).

37: Neat play on the edge of the area from City culminates in Lafferty volleying it first time

37: A lovely move from Grabban, Hoolahan & Lafferty ends when the latter fires a half volley over the bar. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

39: Redmond swings one over the wall and Camp has to punch away. Elphick heads clear the corner. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

Fraser tries his luck from 25 yards but it is weak and trickles past the post.

45: There will be a minimum of two minutes added time at Carrow Road. Norwich currently soaking up some #afcb pressure. #NCFCvAFCB


45+1: Brilliant move from #afcb ! Stanislas finds Francis with the through ball and he crosses for Wilson to tuck home. #NCFC 1-1 #AFCB .

Half time at Carrow Road and the Cherries have struck before half time to change the complexion of this fixture. #NCFCvAFCB

46: We are back underway at Carrow Road where it's #NCFC 1-1 #AFCB . bit.ly/ncfcvafcb#NCFCvAFCB

48: Bradley Johnson tries an effort from outside the box but Lee Camp collects well. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

52: Stanislas breaks at pace and Lafferty slides in cynically. Another Canary goes into the book. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

60: Johnson goes into the book for a late tackle on Arter. Ryan Fraser is replaced by Matt Ritchie. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

61: Kyle Lafferty is replaced by Josh Murphy. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

62: Dan Gosling tests John Ruddy in the Norwich goal, but the stopper holds well. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

66: Arter plays a sweet through ball to Wilson in the channel, but the forward's cross-come-shot is just wide of Ruddy's goal. #NCFCvAFCB

67: Marc Pugh replaces Junior Stanislas, who has done well today. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

71: There is a break in play as Simon Francis receives some treatment. Cameron Jerome is on for Nathan Redmond. #NCFCvAFCB

74: Grabban is played through but Cook recovers and blocks his shot. Camp collects. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

75: Another good tackle from Cook disposes Jerome in the penalty area. The Norwich sub has been lively. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

77: Simon Francis goes into the book for a foul on Bradley Johnson. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

80: Ritchie plays in Pugh as the Cherries break, but the winger's half volley is straight at Ruddy. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

85: Five minutes remaining and it's proving to be a tense finish for both sets of supporters. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

87: Ritchie hits one from distance but it's over the bar. The official attendance is 25,814, no away figure yet. #NCFCvAFCB

88: Pugh overlaps Daniels and gets in a cross, but it is deflected just past the toe of Matt Ritchie. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

89: Bradley Johnson's dangerous free kick is on target but Camp tips it over! http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

90: There will be a minimum of four minutes added time. http://bit.ly/ncfcvafcb #NCFCvAFCB

Camp, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, O'Kane, Gosling, Stanislas (Pugh 67), Arter, Fraser (Ritchie 60), Wilson

Flahavan, Ritchie, Kermorgant, Harte, Rantie, Smith, Pugh

Norwich City
Ruddy, Whittaker, Garrido, Johnson, Hoolahan, Tettley, Johnson, Lafferty  (Murphy 60), Redmond (Jerome 69), Grabban

Norwich Subs
Cuellar, Jerome, Loza, E Bennett, Murphy, Rudd, O'Neil

Steve Martin

Cherry Chimes talks to Paddy Davitt at the Pink 'Un

Match Preview
Norwich City v AFCB
Blogger Interview: The Pink 'Un

This story was first published on Friday, but because of maintenance on some of the football news websites I have re-posted it so that it can receive a wider audience.

Paddy Davitt writes for the Pink 'Un which is an excellent website and publication for those who follow Norwich City FC. Paddy has agreed to give you Cherries' followers an idea as to how the Canaries have been doing and what you can expect if you visit Carrow Road.

CC: What's behind the name Pink 'Un and how did the site and publication get started?

PU: The site is a dedicated football portal, focusing on Norwich City but also covering local non-league clubs, for the Norfolk-based publisher Archant. We also have two daily newspaper titles and a clutch of weeklies which all have their own digital footprint. The Pink 'Un has been in existence for well over a decade and is regarded as one of the best within the industry for its depth of coverage and interactivity.

CC: Neil Adams said a short while ago that the players will put smiles on fans' faces - do you share his optimism?

PU: The fans certainly do now after three wins on the spin in the Championship, capped by Saturday’s 1-0 East Anglian derby victory at Ipswich. Adams reiterated when he spoke to the media at Portman Road how much that result would have meant to the supporters who had to endure some fairly turgid football during the Premier League era.

CC: Have you had a chance to see much of Lewis Grabban yet and do you feel he is a gamble?

PU: I’ve watched every minute of Norwich’s pre-season and early Championship games in my role as the company’s chief Norwich City football writer. I also had the chance to sit down with Lewis whilst on tour in Italy for a feature interview and everything I have heard and now seen from the lad is very impressive. It’s still early days but four goals in the league indicate Norwich completed an excellent piece of business rather than a gamble. What I also got from speaking to the lad himself is his determination to make the most of what he feels is a great opportunity to kick on again in his career and test himself against the best in the Premier League.

CC: How do you feel the team performed as a whole against Wolves?

PU: Neil Adams’ insisted there had been positives but it was hard to spot them at Molineux. The game arguably turned on Martin Olsson’s red card on the hour mark because Wolves scored the match-winner four minutes later but I think there was a general feeling the intensity and the collective pressing from Wolves was a bit of shock to the system for a team who had been operating in the Premier League, where the build up is generally slower and its about possession football rather than pressure. That said, three wins on the bounce in the league tells you they have learned quickly.

CC: What do you think of the quality of Norwich the squad compared to last season?

PU: They have a better squad this season. The likes of Lewis Grabban and Gary O’Neil know what the Championship is all about. Kyle Lafferty has hit the ground running and they’ve added further experience in Carlos Cuellar and Cameron Jerome. Expect Norwich to still be very active in the remaining days of the window as well. This time around they look to have a squad that covers all the bases.

CC: How difficult was the Blackburn team to play against and did you feel well on top of them?

PU: Blackburn could have been 3-0 in the opening 15 minutes. They scored one, had a decent penalty shout and put a free header wide from eight yards. But after City weathered the storm they took control of territory and possession and they eventually wore down the visitors. It might have taken until the 87th minute to get their noses in front before they added a third deep in stoppage time but they were good value for the victory.

CC: Do you think fans will fill the ground this season or will you expect them to ebb away if you are not challenging for promotion?

PU: No chance. Norwich City’s support must be amongst the most loyal in the country, which for me probably stems from the fact this is a one-club county. The nearest other professional team is Ipswich, 45-odd miles away and that is never going to be a viable alternative! That tends to breed a deep attachment between these fans and their club. Even when they went down to League One for the first time 50 years they were still getting 22,000 plus. They’ve sold that number of season tickets again and Carrow Roadwill be packed in home areas for the entire duration of the campaign.

CC: What is the secret to getting a goal out of Andrew Surman as we could not achieve it for all of last season - and do you think he'll stay at Norwich?

PU: Good question. The lad has been offered a new Norwich City deal and the manager wants him to be part of it moving forward and is a big admirer. The flip side is the lad himself told me during pre-season that after playing such an integral role at Bournemouth on loan he would struggle to go back to being a bit-part player, like he had been under the previous management at Carrow Road. He felt at his age, and he just turned 28 in the last few days, he needs regular football. I think that could go either way over the remainder of the transfer window. As for goals, it is a mystery given his technical ability.

CC: Who do you think will be your best player this season?

PU: Lewis Grabban leads the early running. If he maintains that strike rate Norwich would expect to go close to promotion. Wes Hoolahan is another key man in that creative role just behind the striker. Any successful team will have a strong spine and with John Ruddy, Michael Turner and Russell Martin behind those two City look to have that.

CC: Where do you think Norwich will be in the league after the first 10 games this season?

PU: Top four. They’ve got some momentum going now and if they can keep players fit and free of suspension they will feel they can kick on from an encouraging start.

CC: Who do you think will be the top three teams in the Championship?

PU: In no particular order, Norwich, Cardiff, Wigan.

CC: This match will be billed as a Grabban v Wilson showdown but what other players could spoil AFCB's day?

PU: Said it earlier but if Wes Hoolahan gets on the ball in advanced areas then Bournemouth will have to defend very well. He is the one who sets the attacking tempo and switches the play so intelligently.

CC: Can we have a score prediction please?

PU: Norwich City 2, Bournemouth 1

CC: Some excellent replies from Paddy there and I hope the price does not put off too many AFCB supporters who have been thinking of their first visit to Carrow Road to cheer on the Cherries. I still say AFCB will shock a few teams along the way as they did last season and if they can raise their game after recent performances it just could be an exciting day for those who make the journey up to Norwich. To read more of Paddy's reports on the Canaries just visit the Pink 'Un website.