Friday, 23 June 2017

Can Afobe become the main man at AFCB?

The 2016/17 season was not a brilliant campaign for the former Wolves striker Benike Afobe, but he did manage to play a fair few games towards the end of the season for the Cherries and his goal tally rose to six, while he had three assists from 31 appearances. He is still finding his feet at the club in my opinion and has to find another gear to really be the main man at AFCB, and if Defoe joins the club as expected and Josh King does not leave for Spurs, he could have to spend plenty of time on the bench in the new season.

Afobe has to have a big season now.
Whether that will frustrate Afobe is easy to answer - yes. He will be annoyed at not starting having had his run of starts once Jack Wilshere was injured in the Spurs away match in April, as reported by the Evening Standard. Benik had been waiting to prove himself and he had a few games where he began to look like a player that was fighting for every chance again and he certainly enjoyed sticking his goal away against Middlesbrough in the crucial 4-0 home win that took the Cherries up to 38 points at the time from 34 games, as the BBC reminds us. 


Yet, there has been transfer talk about Josh King and none for Benik Afobe. The big DR Congo player hasn't captured many admiring eye's, although Tony Pulis was thought to be tracking the player last January and by March the Birmingham Mail was claiming that Benik could make the Baggies a top six club.

In hindsight, some people in the Midlands were getting carried away. I wonder how much WBA fans would really want an ex-Wolves man leading their line? In any case no offer was made and it still hasn't been made. 

Benik is still most likely to be a Cherry come August. But he has a tremendous amount of work to do if he is to become the main man at AFCB. He has to give himself every chance to put himself in the window before the returning Callum Wilson aims to get some game time. If he finds this difficult, I'd imagine he could well be a prime candidate to go out on loan come next January.

In other news, we wish Jeff Mostyn all the best in his recovery after his recent heart procedure. 
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Thursday, 22 June 2017

AFCB link up with M88 and seek an Asian connection

I was lucky enough to be given the full press release by M88 direct to my email box for the new AFCB club kit, so I just in case you didn't get the full impact of what the new kit is going to be like, here is a quick summary and a few of my thoughts on the marketing deal.
AFCB's new look home kit with M88 logo on display - font and centre!
M88 has announced a two-year partnership as the official shirt sponsor of AFC Bournemouth. The Asian market has become the Premier League’s highest spending region in terms of media rights, with 63 per cent of the Asian population following the Premier League. M88’s partnership with AFC Bournemouth allows the brand to bring football fans and customers in Asia closer to the club, with the creation of exclusive content and access.

Cherries boss Eddie Howe said: “It is probably one of the biggest changes at the club in recent seasons, and the amount of international exposure that AFC Bournemouth is getting is integral for the growth of the club

My thoughts, well the aim in certainly two-fold in that by having a sponsor that can give the best value to the club and a sponsor that will improve the Asian supporter side of the club. This second factor is the big one to grow the club in another market where it feels there is more capacity to grow the AFCB brand. Which parts of Asia will be targeted has not been made clear but there is growing football fans of the Premier League in India, China, Japan and many Southeast Asian countries.

In the last few years we have seen the club build contacts in North America, but this is clearly now the time when the club wants to not just appeal to English speaking fans in the USA, but is seeking wider appeal. You can expect that a tour to an Asian country may be something we see in the future.

My interest though will be to see if the club also looks to find players from Asia when it does look into these markets further. I am sure the club will also be keeping its eye on developments in Europe, North America and Africa, but by selecting Asia as a market it has to appeal to now it is plumping for probably the biggest market that is not fully tapped and perhaps AFCB can make ground on some of the bigger Premier League clubs by making connections in this region before maybe looking more closely at Africa where football is of course already massively followed.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Is Eddie going to talk Gradel round into staying at AFCB?

The transfer gossip on Max Gradel has been fairly quiet of late having been a a regular headline maker in April. Whether Max has been told to go away and think very carefully over what he decides to do is the advice, I hope he has been asked to take by the club as I still believe Gradel can be a success at AFCB if he desires it. Eddie Howe has not given him much game time, but Gradel has had some bad injuries and his ability to recover from them is perhaps not as quick as it would have been when he was a younger player.
Max Gradel's transfer news has quietened down.
All this has meant a stop start career at AFCB for Gradel and I can understand him questioning if it is just not meant to be, but I hope he gives it one more shot as there is no doubt he can be unplayable when he does get running at defenders. The situation that AFCB are in is a very strong one. They have some excellent wide men at the club and even if Gradel decided to move on they would be able to recover a good sized transfer fee from it to go back into the market. Gradel has signed a contract up to 2020, so he was very committed when he signed back in 2016, and if he gives himself at least another season on the south coast he may find that the offers for him are much better in 12 months time.


What Max really needs like so many players is a run of games. He has not had that at all since his return to the club and no player can feel confident f he is just picking up injuries every time he goes on the pitch. In that regard he is surely in the same camp as Callum Wilson, but the support system around these players is what is important when they aren't able to play.

Even being a sub at AFCB is not what Gradel wants, but to be a starter he has to have a great pre-season and really apply himself to the new season. If he can do that I am sure he will feel the love of the fans and his game will become strong again, which is what we all want to see.

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

AFCB's new official website is a hit!

I was probably getting used to the old club site and finding my way around things so to see a new site pop up last week was a bit of a surprise, but a very nice one. It has been created by Stadion and is already grabbing my attention not only for stories but for its clean and open design.
One thing  the new site does have its lots of AFCB goals!
I asked a few questions on twitter to fans to see if there was any reaction to the change and I only received positive responses so if there are some that are not pleased they have kept quiet. AFCB have always been innovators and it is just like them to want the best for the fans, and I am looking forward to being able to see the interviews and correspondence without the premium price that you had to subscribe to in the past.

The interactivity of the site is going to be something special. Some fans will already have watched the live stream of the End of Season Awards night and it will be intriguing to see what AFCB come up with when they want to do some live broadcasts of events at the club and on tour. I have already been checking up past performances on the AFCBTV part of the site and hopefully when the new season begins we will see match reports and interviews go up as soon as they can after the game finishes.

The Opta stats will also be something that I am sure many of us will be looking at very closely to see why Eddie Howe is perhaps picking certain players over others when it comes to that all important starting line up.

I am not sure if AFCB are still looking for feed back, but you can see the form still up on the site if you want to tell them what you think about their site now.

Here is what some fans had to say about the site:

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Ryan Kent will be another AFCB midfielder trying to oust Arter and Surman

Last night the Daily Star reported that AFCB had made a £6 million bid for Liverpool's Ryan Kent. Cherry Chimes suggested this move in May after a Daily Express lead. The move follows the signing of Asmir Begovic and will be the third Liverpool player that AFCB have signed in the last year, after the signings of Jordan Ibe and Brad Smith. Like the latter two, Klopp is asking for a buy-back clause if the deal goes through.
Eddie Howe makes his bid for Liverpool's Ryan Kent.
Eddie Howe seems as keen to raid Liverpool as Liverpool are at raiding Southampton. The need to bring in youth is uppermost in Howe's thinking it would appear, although the attempts to give Arter and Surman competition in midfield have not seen the two regulars lessen their grip on their starting positions.

AFCB need to invest in this area though as the side is not scoring from central midfield. Whether Ryan Kent, Lewis Cook, Emerson Hyndman or Dan Gosling can shift the balance in their favour is something that will resolve itself throughout the season.  

The fans certainly love Harry Arter and he is a player that will always look to get forward when he can to make the extra man and to give assistance to the strikers. But even he admits it's been hard for him to score goals and he is keen to do better in front of goal.


Andrew Surman had a spell where he would take most of the free kicks, especially in AFCB's first season in the Premier League but it didn't really do anything to boost his goal count. I don't think it's a part of Surman's game that is likely to change now and his qualities in spotting passes and reading the game to make decisive tackles are more important attributes for his part of the side.

It may be some time before we see a player such as Ryan Kent oust Surman or Arter from the team, but if Kent can be signed on a long term contract then he will be a rising star in a couple of years and the building blocks will be in place for a young energetic team by 2018/19. For the moment both he and perhaps Emerson Hyndman could be loaned out with the number of central midfielders that would be at the club if this deal does go through. 

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Did Bournemouth miss a trick with Newcastle winger?

When AFC Bournemouth were promoted to the Premier League in 2015 they needed to add quality and they did this through the loan system and landed a big fish in Ghanaian international Christian Atsu. Yet, the loan period from Chelsea was not profitable for Christian who only played in two League Cup matches and he was quickly recalled by and annoyed Jose Mourhinio. It’s been a different story for Christian though on Tyneside where he has become a fan’s favourite.
Christian just couldn't get in a league team for AFCB. Next thing is
he is helping Newcastle win a Championship and now
he has been signed up on Tyneside
Newcastle were quickly in to sign Atsu in June following his successful campaign with Newcastle in the Championship in 2016/17. The Ghanaian scored five goals in the Geordies’ promotion run and a price-tag of £6.2m sounds a reasonable outlay for an international player that has 42 caps and has been in a World Cup squad.

So did AFC Bournemouth miss a trick? The player that mainly kept Atsu out of the Cherries’ team was a certain Matt Ritchie who of course is now at Newcastle. The fact that Rafa Benitez has managed to get both players into his team is either a tale that Atsu has improved and Newcastle had less competition for places or Bournemouth’s wingers were exceptional to keep Atsu out of the team.


If the latter is true, Newcastle haven’t done too badly as Atsu will be looking to impress in the top flight and with the Geordie crowd behind him, he has everything to play for. For once, Eddie How might have missed out on a player that just needed some games.

Sometimes players need to be give a chance and now that Atsu has found that at Newcastle he looks like a bargain buy. 

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Saturday, 17 June 2017

So where will AFCB be playing football in 2020/21?

I am sure the club wants to be able to give the fans some positive news about the progress of developments for the new stadium, but with no glimmer of a statement on the horizon it does not take a great mathematician to work out that time will shortly be running out to get plans through for a new stadium and its construction for the 2020/21 season, unless a site is named soon.
Something tells me AFCB could still be here for a while yet.
The Bournemouth Echo reported at the end of May that the Wessex Field site that will have a spur road to link it with the A338 can now be ruled out as a potential new stadium venue, as it is being developed for the Bournemouth International Growth (BIG) programme. 

There also appears no sign of any preference or movement towards getting an arrangement to move to the Canford Park Arena or land nearer to Bournemouth Airport - Poole or Christchurch here we come! Well, maybe not.

Whether the Bournemouth Borough Council or the club is dragging its feet is hard to tell, but with no site and no surveys for traffic, residential and environmental impact concerns, AFCB don't look a great deal further forward than where they were back in December 2016, when Neill Blake said the club had no option but to seek a new stadium as it could not get a deal with the freeholder - Structadene - at Dean Court for expansion.

So where does this leave everything? I am most concerned that if a site can't be found that the Cherries will go back to Structadene to try and reach a compromise that would see the stadium only moderately expanded if successful. Top negotiators might be in short supply, but perhaps the club is not in such a rush to get a final decision, if it is not clear that a new site can be found to tick all the boxes locally.

It would be helpful if the club could make a statement at some point this summer to at least keep the fans in the picture as to what the current sticking points are, and to let us know if all that has been achieved since the announcement was made that the club needed a new home is simply to rule certain sites out.

If the silence continues for much longer though you'd probably be wise to make sure your seat is still in good order at Dean Court, as it might yet have to keep you seated for a while yet.

In other news, are you getting used to the new look official AFCB website? I am not sure how much of the old news remains on the site, but it is a fresh and modern look. I'm sure we will all get used to it soon enough.

Breaking News: Since writing this piece, I have heard that a club statement may possibly be made in September about the new ground and it may even be too soon to rule out Wessex Fields! 

AFCB tickets on sale dates 

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Friday, 16 June 2017

World Cup winner Lewis Cook must now win more starts for AFCB

Lewis Cook may well have described last Sunday as the best day of his life, but there could be better days yet to come for the young England international if he can force his way into Eddie Howe's thinking more and snatch a central midfield starting role at AFCB. The need for the England U20 stars to get into Premier Leagues was made clear by England manager Gareth Southgate and it is evident that these players are not yet being seen often enough in the Premier League.
Lewis Cook must try and grab some of the midfield glory at AFCB next.
AFCB have tended to shelter some of the younger squad members and I suppose it has to be made clear that when the England U20s won their World Cup on Sunday they did so against another team that only composed of fellow 20 year-olds. The physical nature of English football and the competition from foreign players makes it difficult for these young men to break into teams.

Lewis Cook does appear to be a player though that can step up and he has already played well for the Cherries. If he can muscle out Andrew Surman to get some starts next season it will be the making of him and if he needed a confidence boost he has just been given a huge won by lifting the U20s World Cup. The feeling of winning is also good for AFCB as they start to see their squad bringing in potential stars of the national game in future.

Complacency is now what Lewis Cook must avoid. He has to believe he is good enough to make starts at Dean Court and while he will have had a long summer with the international games, he has to come back up for a real fight to win a position in the Cherries starting 11.

There are more of my articles on HITC today - see Warburton's hopes to resurrect Forest and Reading track Mubarak Wakaso.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Tough October, December and April for the Cherries!

I always like to look at the Premier League fixtures as soon as they come out with great anticipation - well we are level with everyone else and things look great. You may not get very far before you see a game where you can't see the Cherries getting anything from it, but you can at least start thinking about organising weekend for those long away trips.  
Together anything is possible!
The start that AFCB have had in their last two Premier League seasons has been steady but nothing exceptional which was probably to be expected. Now this next season is a bit more interesting in that only Man City of the recognised top six sides are to pay a visit to Dean Court early before things get a bit difficult looking at October and the Christmas period.

Still, I'd rather have some of the more challenging teams early on and AFCB have shown that they can now hold their own against the best teams on occasions. Usually it is two or three games before AFCB manage to get a win but there is a fair chance that the opening games against WBA and Watford could give the Cherries a good start and although the run-in during April will also be a difficult period, there is less to frighten Eddie Howe's team now that they have experienced rough periods in the division.

Chelsea will come visiting on 28 October and the next away trip at Newcastle should be well supported by AFCB fans who will be looking to see how Matt Ritchie is playing among others. The first round of South coast derby's will also be big crowd drawers with Brighton visiting early on 16th September and the Saints making an early Christmas visit on 2 December, something tells me the kick-offs of these two matches are likely to change.

Well we know the fixtures now and the excitement is soon going to grow as the transfers get going, but don't forget the club needs your support next season and every voice helps the team to stay in the Premier League. See you there!

Just in case you all think I'm not working hard enough I am now writing freelance articles for HITC. You can see my first few articles on their site already - Troy Deeney, possible England U21 signing for Brighton and where should Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain play his football?

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

What ambitions has Francis now got as captain?

The role of the captaincy has fitted well with Simon Francis since the departure of Tommy Elphick. He will now be pleased to have led the team to its highest ever finish and the need to push on will surely be a constant talking point over the summer. Yet, Francis will have to look at his own position as well and the number of games he plays as the squad will be stronger next season and the need to bolster the centre-back positions has already been recognised with John Terry shortlisted to join the club.
Simon Francis has to set himself new goals.
Simon Francis will surely want to play as many games as he can and although he has had some injury problems, he is usually able to push his appearances well over 30 games. But giving Tyrone Mings and potentially others more games could impact on Francis and his leadership so it will be important for Francis to really lead on the pitch with his performances.

As well as keeping his place, there should be some ambition to go much further in the cup competitions. Eddie Howe must recognise this as a failure of last season and has to build a squad that is strong enough to compete now in these competitions. The role of Francis will also be important in getting it over to the players that the fans have not enjoyed great cup competitions and the weight has always been one-sided towards doing well in the leagues, whenever the side comes up against a big team in the cups. To go out to lower league teams though is not good for morale and with not so many years for players like Francis to make it to Wembley in a cup competition, it should be an aim that Francis can target - and not simply a Wembley appearance to play Spurs at home.

Classic Football Shirts
Francis will also be mindful of the number of clean sheets that the side has achieved and will want to see how many more they can get in a season at this level.

In other news, the Premier League fixtures are announced for the 2017/18 season this Wednesday.

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