Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Howe and Redknapp go toe-to-toe in Carabao Cup

Bournemouth travel to Birmingham in the Carabao sponsored League Cup desperately searching for some goals. It's not been a bad place to go to for the Cherries in recent years with their bountiful 8-0 win in October 2014. Now St Andrews has a familiar place installed as their manager, and I suppose it has been a match up that is long overdue to see Redknapp and Howe put their reputations on the line in a managerial contest for a cup game.
AFCB hope St Andrew's remains a happy hunting ground for them.

Birmingham have not been getting fans that excited with four points from four league games, but at least their team has been scoring. A 5-1 home win against Crawley in the last round of the league cup was something for the Blues fans to celebrate and three of their league points have come at home with a 2-1 win over Bristol City.

Harry has been busy signing players too. Luton sold Isaac Vassell on a four year deal. Redknapp has been bemoaning the lack of strikers he can get on the market and he has had to drop don a league to pick up Vassell. David Stockdale has joined from Brighton in goal. Cheik Ndoye is a midfielder that has signed from French side Angers. Dan Scarr boosts their midfield having come from Scarbrough and Marc Roberts is another defender who joined this summer from Barnsley.

Birmingham have also seen Kerim Free move to Istanbul Buyuksehir, while Che Adams and Koby Arthur were released.

Eddie Howe will see this as a match where he plays the back up players to the main team. It could backfire if they get a beating as there would be nowhere to turn to if there aren't a couple of positives to take from this game. The manager will take the criticism himself up to a point as it is his decision like it was last year to make the rotation, but it has to benefit the team come next Saturday. Some times you can play yourself into form and there is a case for suggesting that the bench should be lined with players that need to improve. But having time to think and rest is also important.

At least with Howe taking on Redknapp there is a nice friendly nature to the fixture in the boardroom and the two of them will probably share some friendly chat about how things could have gone better for them both this season.

Possible AFCB XI
Boruc (GK), Worthington (RD), Mings (CD), M Wilson (CD), B Smith (LD), Mahoney (RM), L Cook (CM), Gosling (CM), Pugh (LM), Mousset (FW), Defoe (FW)

AFCB Subs Federici (GK), Wiggins (LD), Hyndman, Butcher, Taylor, King, Afobe

Monday, 21 August 2017

Are AFCB's expectations set too high?

In pre-season there was a lot of talk about where AFCB should be aiming this season. After such a great final position last time there is added pressure on the team I feel. It is always an aim to move the club forward and to have a better season than the previous one, but that is not going to be easier as the seasons move forward. So much expectation can have a negative affect, and the form of Bournemouth's players at the start if this campaign would indicate that they are not coping with matters very well.
Things have not being going well for an expectant crowd.

The third season in the Premier League could be AFCB's toughest yet. Losing to WBA and Watford is not going to be the start that everyone wanted, and the prospect of having to match Man City and Arsenal next has not lessened the task of getting points on the board. The pressure is simply escalating with each poor performance, and so that is why the upcoming game against Birmingham City is so important, as it could release a bit of the frustration even if most of the regulars are rested.

Bournemouth have to look at why they are not getting shots in on goal and why they aren't finding each other with their passing. Until they get these two fundamentals right they will continue to struggle. AFCB's players have been doing a lot of ball watching rather than reacting or anticipating where the ball will be, and it's this sluggish waiting for things to happen that is stopping the team from being on the front foot.

We can pick out individuals easily enough, but it goes further than that. The mood needs changing and only the players can bring that about by playing well and getting the fans behind them. The fightback must start soon, before the mood sets in any deeper.

Bringing the game back to basics is where AFCB have to go. Beating the team in front of you is all they can try and do. It doesn't matter if it's Birmingham or Man City. The club needs a solid performance and belief that they can compete. It's a matter of focus and more work not dreaming of where AFCB will be next May.

AFCB are still waiting for their season to start

There was great excitement for the start of the season. Everything was in place for another push up the table and with star names like Jermain Defoe, Nathan Aké and Asmir Begovic joining the team it seemed that only a few games would be needed to see AFCB back in the top 10 and enjoying a positive time in the top flight. But two games in and the picture looks very different. AFCB are still waiting for their first point and their first goal. In short, the season hasn't started yet for the Cherries.
It's just not happening for AFCB's players.
AFCB have started poorly in all their Premier League campaigns and Eddie Howe believes this is the worst start of all of them as there was no Liverpool, or Man Utd in the first couple of fixtures as in previous seasons. Looking around Dean Court on Saturday, it was noticeable that not everything was quite the same. The turnstiles seemed busy enough with their new automated gates, but when entering the stadium it was apparent that some fans were still enjoying their summer holidays, and perhaps the players were finding it difficult to return to their bread and butter work, which slumped again in the last full days of full sunshine.

There is a disquieting puzzlement about the team's lack of performance and no easy reason given for the slow start that has been made. It is almost as though AFCB have become too familiar with being in the Premier League and have forgotten what has got them there in the first place. Too many simple errors have accrued to keep the Cherries from being content in their own individual performances, and it can be no surprise that the results have been poor.
It's time to re-focus and stop patting everyone on the back. It's a new season and it has started. There is no more warm ups or friendlies – AFCB need to be on it now. We can't expect them to win every game, but they have not looked like posing a real threat on goal as of yet and they have to find a way of breaking their duck.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

"Something needs to change quickly," says Steve Cook

"Awful. Our worst Premier league performance," said Steve Cook to BBC Radio Solent's Kris Temple. A lack of spark and individual errors are a major cause of the problems Cook feels, but the team is finding it hard to drag themselves out of the whole they have been digging for themselves.
Steve Cook walks off after warming up for the Watford game.
The words of Steve Cook were blunt, but probably need saying in the dressing room as well as in public. The players know that they are under performing and they are not happy about it. Acknowledging that is at least a start, AFCB's players need to believe they are making it tougher on themselves than they could be and if they can cut out the short passes, the lapses of concentration and complacency when they are not in possession they just might be able to start building something. That's the real shame of this season so far – Bournemouth have not looked like scoring.

I looked on with some dismay that Callum Wilson was still looking down on proceedings from the hospitality suites at Dean Court. Along with Junior Stanislas, Eddie Howe could do with having such firepower options available to him. Instead he has; Jermain Defoe who is not considered to be ready to play 90 minutes, Josh King who is not yet charging at defences, Benik Afobe who needs a goal to get him going and Lys Mousset who is lucky to get 10 minutes.

It's not an attack that is worrying defences. Bournemouth need to get these forward players on the ball more often and get their number of touches going up. It's only when they start seeing that they are troubling defences that they will start believing that they can score. 

Most of the match against Watford saw plenty of Bournemouth possession, but how much of it was in Watford's box? And even when it was there, how often did Huerhelo Gomes have to make a save? Well, it was just two shots on target from the Cherries – the same as in the WBA match.

Match Report: Watford heap more problems on sorry Bournemouth 0-2

Match Report
AFCB 0 v 2 Watford
19 August 2017
Attendance: 10,501
Sunshine welcomes the teams at Dean Court.
While an opening day defeat was hard to take for supporters of the Cherries, this home defeat left them reeling about how lacking in positivity Eddie Howe's team has become. All the prospects were good. A home match. A chance for Jermain Defoe to lift the mood. A Watford side visiting who finished below the Cherries last season. Yet, Defoe didn't start, Watford fans sang loud and proud, and it was Bournemouth that cam away from the game scratching their heads. Richarlison had opened the scoring in the second half and Etienne Capoue had sealed the Hornets win with a spectacular half volley from outside the box. Bournemouth were a shadow of last season's team and questions are already being asked – why?
No Defoe in the line up yet.
The team news was the first thing that started whispers going around Dean Court. Jermain Defoe on the bench again? Why isn't he starting? There was less surprise at Simon Francis not passing a fitness test and Adam Smith coming into replace him. Marc Pugh would also have to be content with a place on the sub's bench.

Watford players have their final chat.

There are more pictures on
Match Day Gallery.

First Half
Games against Watford are usually high friction encounters. This one looked to be warming up nicely when Abdoulaye Doucouré sent Harry Arter airborne in the first few minutes. Waved to play on, by referee Roger East, Bournemouth's Benik Afobe raced on and together with Josh King forced the first corner.

Watford soon put pressure on Bournemouth though, as Tom Cleverly's shot smashed into Nathan Aké's face in the box.

The zip in AFCB's game looked to be returning when Fraser took King's pass to bring a save out of Gomes, only for Benik Afobe to see his follow up shot deflect over. 

At the back Nathan Aké had André Gray in his pocket and there were encouraging signs with Gomes opting to punch when Daniels started to get crosses in.

Sian Massey-Ellis was kept active in raising her flag for the offside Gray as the half wore on, and Bournemouth looked in control, if not quite playing their full pressing game. Afobe was also more than doing his fair share of defending.

Matters became more scary when Nordin Amrabat started pinging his right-sided crosses in, and Nathaniel Chalobah just headed wide from one of them after 19 minutes.

Adam Smith was in the wars again when he clashed heads with Richarison, but both players managed to play on after some treatment.

The first name in the book was Miguel Britos, who took out Harry Arter, although Arter did his best to jump out of the way. Afobe then went close after a long ball from Steve Cook, but Gomes made the save on the angle when Afobe shot across goal. It was to be just one of two attempts Bournemouth would have on target all afternoon.

Arter got rather angry at the referee having not won a goal kick, following a crunching tackle on Richarlison. While Fraser and Ibe swapped wings, the former Liverpool player still failed to provide a telling cross or pass.

Moreover, it was Watford that were wondering how they were not going in one up at half time when Richarlison did some amazing work in turning Adam Smith inside out on the left side of the box, picking out André Gray who put the ball over the bar from six yards!
AFCB's subs at half time.
Gomes remains unbeaten.
Josh King gets ready for starting the second half.
Second half 
It was early Bournemouth pressure in the second half. Steve Cook was annoyed he didn't get a good, clean header in from a corner,  Ibe then went very close with his cross that deflected off Doucouré just onto the top of the net.

Arter was naughty in shouting at Chelobah to leave a ball that the Watford player was getting ready to hit, only to collect the ball himself when Bournemouth had lookedin danger. The referee did not hear it, but the Match of the Day cameras picked it up.

Begovic had to make a great on-on-one save by standing up to Chalobah on 56 minutes and André Gray was carded for his protesting, when Steve Cook ran into Gray during the Watford move.

The entry of Jermain Defoe on 60 minutes was well received, with Afobe departing a bit disappointed by the way he shook his head. Pugh was also introduced to replace Ibe, while Steve Cook was booked on 61 minutes.

Another yellow card, this time for Chalobah on King might have made AFCB fans thinking that they were wearing Watford down. But this is when the Hornets started  to ramp things up with a couple of corners. The opening goal came when Gray took up possession from a Bournemouth move with Pugh in Watford's half. Gray profited and reached the AFCB box to put a cross in for Richarlison. Begovic and Adam Smith looked to have contained the Watford man at first, but the ball came back to Richarlison who finished from close in on 73 minutes.

Watford fans went crazy and started a bit of a pitch invasion. Several of their fans were taken out of the ground by the police. Still it meant a lot for them to be ahead, while Bournemouth fans were silent – almost in disbelief.

Fraser had a shout for a penalty when he went down between two Watford players in the box, but Roger East didn't see anything in it. Moments later, Fraser was subbed for Lys Mousset, while Watford started making their subs at a rather slower pace. Richarlison even tried to go and shake the referee's hand to waste time before Capoue came on after 79 minutes.

A Bournemouth attack followed with Pugh's chip falling for King who headed over from short range.

Amrabat was subbed for Christian Kabasele with seven minutes to go. The hope was fading for Bournemouth to do something, and it slipped away completely when Capoue drilled in a shot from 30 yards out to make it 0-2 to the visitors on 86 minutes.

Ben Watson was brought on for Chalobah as Watford knew it was job done. Six minutes of added time did see Lys Mousset have a half chance with the ball at his feet in the six yard box, following a corner but he did not get his shot away. He was hardly the only Bournemouth player guilty of that on the day.
The new scoreboard shows a first home defeat of the season.
Bournemouth have only played two games, but there is a depressing mood taking hold that must be dispelled quickly. They just aren't playing to their strengths and the speed of attack that we are so used to seeing just isn't there. None of the units of the team is working effectively and getting momentum through the passing is something Howe is going to have to get the players carrying out with more effectively. Surman is passing way too many balls backwards and Arter is not taking charge of the midfield to set a tempo. The wing play isn't getting behind teams and the forwards are starved of chances.

This is not the Bournemouth we have come to see over the last few seasons. They need to get back to doing what they have done well in the past. It's not down to a single individual that AFCB are falling short all over the pitch, it's a collective lack of injection in their play. It needs to change and the players need to forget about tables and season targets, and just play the team in front of them.
Defoe with Watford players.
Celebrating Watford fans.
Watford did more than enough to win the game.

Begovic, A Smith, S Cook, Aké, Daniels, Ibe (Pugh 60), Arter, Surman, Fraser (Mousset 78), King, Afobe (Defoe 59)

Boruc, Mings, B Smith, Gosling, Pugh, Defoe, Mousset

AFCB Ratings
Begovic 7, A Smith 6, S Cook 5, Aké 8, Daniels 5, Ibe 5, Arter 5, Surman 4, Fraser 5, King 5, Afobe 6

Gomes, Femenía, Prödl, Britos, Holebas, Cleverley, Doucouré, Chalobah (Watson 90+1), Amrabat (Kabasele 82), Gray, Richarlison (Capoue 80)

Referee Rating: Roger East 6/10 He kept in control by carding a few Watford players, helped by his assistant linesman. But he probably should have booked Arter as well for some of his antics.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

AFCB have to be mindful of Watford's ambition

Last week was not a great start for Watford or AFC Bournemouth. A home draw, salvaging a point in the last minute to Liverpool will be seen as the better result, but Marco Silva will have imagined an even better start and he'll bring his Watford side to Dean Court knowing they can win.
Watford will have a few familiar faces but they have brought in some good new players.
While the return to fitness of Troy Deeney is one concern for the Cherries, Watford have done some summer recruiting that has been less Italian driven than most recent summers for them and it's probably given them a better balance in quality in every area of the pitch. While Gomez still started in goal against Liverpool, the Hornets have brought in Daniel Bachmann as a back up along with Pantilimon and in midfield they now have Nathaniel Chalobah from Chelsea, Kiko Femenia from Alaves and Will Hughes from Derby County. Fermenia is still waiting to make his Premier League debut having been a sub last match.

André Gray is their big summer signing from Burnley, which Sky Sports say was worth £18m. It's a staggering amount for a striker that is still learning his way in this league but such are the prices now and Gray will just have to concentrate on his goals. Having worked his way up from non-league Hinckley, he'll know how hard AFCB's players have worked to get where they are today and he'll be eager to impress for his new club.

Italian, Stefano Okaka only played 18 games for Watford last season but he's already got a goal in his first match this season and should keep his place for this match. Frenchman, Abdulaye Doucouré was also in the team for half of last season on loan and was their standout player in midfield last weekend, with lots of flair and trickery. Tom Cleverly also signed permanently for the Hornets over the summer.

So they have a good mix of players that have something to prove and experience of the Premier League. Watford can't be underestimated and their ambition has already been seen in battling for a draw against Liverpool. 

ASKFANS match preview with CherryChimes

In other news, Joe Quigley has joined Newport County on loan until January.

Connor Mahoney and Emerson Hyndman played in an U21 game against a Brentford side yesterday so Mahoney is likely to be uninvolved in today's game. Marc Pugh will probably have a spot on the bench. A win for AFCB today is already seeming very important with Man City and Arsenal coming up! UTCIAD!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Will Defoe set the home crowd alight?

Jermaine Defoe might have played for half-an-hour at West Brom but he hardly had a kick. He will be aiming to have much more success against Watford and is probably now ready to start. He needs to get off to a cracking start as well just to give the home supporters a lift after a disappointing first week in the Premier League.
The home crowd will lift Defoe to help him perform well.
Bournemouth players struggled to get behind a West Brom side that covered every move well, but Watford should enable AFCB to be a bit more creative. Jermain has a great knack of being able to hit the target, and if the Cherries can get the ball to him you might expect him to score at least once during a match.

Howe has to think who best will fit with Jermain and while Josh King has been the leading striker it is possible that Afobe would be a better fit with Defoe. It's the team as a whole that Howe will have to consider and how it can get shots on goal Defoe is good at creating his own space within the box. While Defoe will be tightly marked, AFCB's players will know that Defoe won't miss many opportunities if they can pick him out.

If Defoe does not get off to a flyer then Howe will be looking around at how he can change things further, but Lys Mousset looks very much a plan B or C and while Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas are on the long term injury list he doesn't have much option, but to find a solution that works for Defoe. 

AFCB's crowd will respond if Defoe starts unleashing shots on goal and he is they type of player that could just weigh in with a hat-trick at any time ,and I'm not sure we can say that so easily of any of AFCB's other strikers.

Can Howe get AFCB ticking without major changes?

The first defeat of the season came all too soon, but AFCB can hope that home advantage gives them a spurt up the league on Saturday when Watford visit Dean Court. The Hornets themselves scored freely against Liverpool, even if they also left the back door open, so I imagine Eddie will decide to have a real go at the Hornets and try to dominate possession without making the same slip up that we saw last weekend.
Howe has some critical choices to make on team selection this week.
The personnel for this game will show us how much faith Howe has in his players. Should those who played at the Hawthorns been given the chance to put matters right, after all it was only a 0-1 defeat? I tend to feel that we will see some changes. While Simon Francis looks like an enforced change due to a probable hamstring pull, the slotting in of Adam Smith at right back is maybe even a plus anyway. Looking at the rest of the team, Howe could make any number of changes but his past record of minor changes is most likely. 


Jermain Defoe should be ready to play at least 70 minutes now and he must be a prime candidate to come into the starting 11. It is then a choice between King and Afobe to partner him as I see Mousset as being the striker who will have to wait the longest before getting a start. The choice between King and Afobe could just come down to how each is recovering after the WBA match, but Afobe looks slightly further ahead in his game to me at the moment, whereas King looks a little way short of his peak levels.

If Jordan Ibe also comes into the starting line up, we can expect Fraser to be on the left wing and with Max Gradel departing for the season there should be an opportunity to bring Connor Mahoney into the squad which I believe most fans would welcome. It would not surprise me if Mahoney comes on in the second half and has a big game - he looks the part and we'll only see how good he is by throwing him in a Premier League game at some stage. For me, the sooner the better for him to get the experience as I am sure he'll be needed this season.

Some fans may like to see Lewis Cook replace Andrew Surman, but if Howe makes too many changes it will unsettle everything so I get the vibe that Arter and Surman will stay in the middle and Gosling will be the man that has the opportunity to be the first call if he is needed in central midfield.

Possible AFCB team

Begovic (GK), A Smith (RD), S Cook (CD), Aké (CD), Daniels (LD), Ibe (RM), Arter (CM),
Surman (CM), Fraser (LM), Defoe (FW), Afobe (FW)

Boruc, B Smith, Mings, Gosling, Mahoney, Mousset, King

In other news, Baily Cragill has joined Fleetwood on a season long loan.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Adam Smith can bring energy to AFCB's game

Adam Smith came on late in the match at WBA to replace an injured Simon Francis. It has been a slow road back for Smith who has been suffering with a quad injury, but he is gradually getting back into contention, and Eddie Howe may have to launch him back into the starting line up on Saturday against Watford.
Adam Smith is tipped to start after Simon Francis' late injury at WBA.
While Simon Francis has been forced back into vying for the right back position, the role is more likely to be as a deputy to Adam Smith this season. Adam has the upper hand now to push on and ensure he has a full season at right back, and creatively there is a need for more energy and movement in the team which Adam Smith can bring.

We have seen some stunning goals from Adam in recent seasons and I'm sure he is keen to add to them and, while he has been used as a right midfielder, he is at his best in my mind when he comes in off the wide areas and goes directly at goal. He seems to get his angles right when finding space running at the opposition's penalty area, and he almost got in during his short time on the pitch against West Bromwich Albion.

I also think it is important who Howe puts in front of Adam on the right. He needs to have a regular partner to work with like Daniels and Pugh have built up over the years on the left. If Adam can be more confident with his play and the runs that he makes, it should add a dynamic that helps gets Bournemouth back to their fluent best.

Is Ibe ready to start?

Jordan Ibe didn't get the start he might have hoped for in Bournemouth's first game of the season. Yet, he will be aware of the manager's post-match comments that he was most impressed with what Jordan did when he came on and it was one of the few positives that he took from the game.
Can Ibe start making headlines for AFCB.
While Ryan Fraser didn't do much wrong in the game it is possible that Ryan could be moved over to the left side to give Ibe a go on the right wing. Eddie Howe clearly wants to involve Ibe in as many games a she can as a player who could well become a regular match winner, if he can add more composure to his finishing and his final ball delivery. Ibe has all the ingredients, but has not put it together over a full game yet and he just might need that one game when it clicks for him before he finds his true rhythm and confidence in the team.

Ibe has been very honest in publicly announcing how he felt his first season at Bournemouth went and where he fell short. It has probably done him some good just to get that off his chest and to start concentrating on the future. I don't believe is worried about his price-tag or his ability to deliver, but he has to show how good he is on match day and not just in training.

If Ibe has been unbelievable in training then I can see why Howe has persevered with Ibe when some fans have questioned whether potential is all Bournemouth will get with the winger. Ibe knows that this is the season for him to deliver now. He has put that expectation on himself, so I hope it comes off for him.

In other news, Max Gradel has joined Toulose on loa for the season and Jordan Green has signed for Yeovil Town on a free transfer. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Did Afobe do enough to keep his place?

It was a hard game for Benik Afobe at WBA. He came into the match being confident with a few goals to his name in pre-season and the knowledge that he was preferred in the match to Jermain Defoe and Lys Mousset. It was a big moment for Afobe to make a claim for the kind of season he wants, and he is probably frustrated that he dd not see much of a sight of goal during his time on the pitch.
Benik didn't get much of a chance to get off the mark at the Hawthorns.
Benik will want a run in the team to prove that he can score regularly. He rarely got a look in at West Brom and probably through no fault of his own. What I did like to see was Benik not hesitating to get back at times and help the team out when West Brom had corners. He may not always appear a player that is running at full pelt when he is tracking the opposition, but he worked hard in the last match without getting many pickings given to him in return. 

In the past, the Afobe and King partnership has been fruitful. It looked a bit out of sorts though last Saturday. Josh King looks like he needs games to get up to speed, and if he is a bit short of where he needs to be it may make Afobe's job that bit harder too. For Eddie Howe it was probably not a risk to play King and Afobe, as he knows that they have a good understanding, and it will have been nothing new for them lining up against WBA.

The fact that it didn't quite work will be slightly disappointing for Howe. He would have liked these two strikers get a goal each or more, but starved of service in a Bournemouth side that had most of the possession tells us something. Either Afobe and Kings runs are not incisive enough or the passes to find them aren't sharp enough. Of course Benik needs to be clinical as well when he does get opportunities, but we just didn't even get to answer that question against WBA.

Howe will want to be fair with his strikers and give them all encouragement, but Afobe may find himself in and out of the team this season. If Jermain Defoe is fully fit and has seen no reaction to his groin problem from the weekend, it will be more than a bit tempting to play him against Watford. But Afobe could be seen as the best player to have up top with Defoe. 

WBA 1 v 0 AFCB review on AskFans 

Why were the Cherries so short on creativity at WBA?

Bournemouth are not usually a side that find it hard to create chances. Yet, Eddie Howe was somewhat staggered after the game against WBA in wondering whey they created so little. It was so disturbing that Jermain Defoe might as well have been standing in his own half as in and around the West Brom penalty area, as the chances of any Bournemouth player finding him seemed particularly slim when he came on late in the game.

Marc Pugh looked below par on Saturday.
It wasn't just Defoe that had trouble seeing enough of the ball. Marc Pugh was not able to get into the game and Ryan Fraser was also short of supply at times. When the wide men are not seeing enough of the ball it can be no surprise that Josh King and Benik Afobe were also bystanders for much of the first half. It was a subdued performance by Eddie Howe's men and the reasons for that only he and the players will really know.

Perhaps pre-season had gone too well. Even in the defeat against Velencia, AFCB had caused problems for the Spanish side and had made the keeper work. There was none of that though in the opening Premier League match at the Hawthorns. Ben Foster will hardly have needed to have his kit washed.

The team selection was a bit of a surprise in that Marc Pugh had not played as well for me as Max Gradel over the summer, and Jordan Ibe might have also felt unlucky not to get a start. It is evident now, according to SkySports, that Gradel was not played as he is set for a loan move with Toulose, but Eddie was probably cursing that Gradel wasn't on the pitch at the Hawthorns. Howe still has more than enough options though on the wing and he might have tried to find a way to get Josh King more on the ball by changing his position, but it was hard for Bournemouth to counter West Brom's game plan of getting men behind the ball in such numbers.

Eddie will have to devise something though that does allow his forwards to get on the ball more though against such sides that set up against the Cherries in this effective way, and it may be a change in personnel as well as tempo that enable him to do this in the next match.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Aké has set the bar which the others have to reach

There was no doubt who was AFC Bournemouth's best player on the field last weekend. Nathan Aké was a tower of strength and you wouldn't have known he had ever been away as he just took off from where he left the team last January. He made immaculate tackles and covered numerous times, when Jay Rodriguez looked to have the run on him. He has a grit and determination to be a winner and AFCB's players may need to follow his lead.
Ake sets the standard.
It is asking a lot of a new signing to pick the team up, but Nathan Aké is a player that sets himself high standards and is already pleasing Eddie Howe and the fans. He may not have been allowed to push himself forward often to get AFCB a goal, but his primary duty to keep West Brom's strikers away from goal was at times a masterful display. He is not afraid to scrap for the ball as the last defender when he is not favourite to win the ball, and while he gave a couple of sharp passes back to Begovic, he generally chooses the safest option.

It may not have been the start of the season that Aké or Bournemouth wanted at the Hawthorns, but it did confirm what a prospect Nathan is. Working with him is going to be a real pleasure for Eddie Howe, as Nathan does many things naturally. He has common sense and rarely overplays, but is economical in his passing. Strong in the air and confident of scoring goals, Nathan will be a massive part of AFCB's season.


What Nathan may be wondering is why others were not quite on their game at the Hawthorns. He'll know that the team can play better, and is perhaps learning why Eddie Howe was so keen to get him back to Dean Court.

New training facility plans announced in Poole.

Gareth Davies tells us everything about the new Umbro AFCB's kits

With the new season here, the Cherries will be resplendent for the 2017-18 campaign in three brand new playing strips. In an exclusive piece for Cherry Chimes, the club’s very own kit expert Gareth Davies gives us his thoughts on Umbro’s first endeavours.

JD Sports’ association with AFC Bournemouth has been something that has always divided opinion. A second-rate kit supplier to some, purveyors of pure brilliance to others. Whichever tendency your opinion lent towards, they are, after nine seasons, no longer in charge of the Dean Court kit cupboard.

It’s hard to believe that the first JD deal was struck by the much-maligned Sport 6 group way back in 2008. Whilst Baker, Savi and co were in charge, Bournemouth once again lurched from one crisis to another, although two positive things they did do, ironically almost by accident, was dispense with the hapless Jimmy Quinn and replace him with Eddie Howe and also get JD on board.

The events of New Years Eve 2008 have of course been well documented throughout our recent rise, but how the kit deal came to fruition is a little bit more of a mystery, but to my best knowledge, Sport 6 had actually agreed a deal in principal with Spanish supplier Joma, but due to financial uncertainties, they pulled out at the eleventh hour. I actually saw CAD drawings of what Joma designed for us and both kits were very acceptable, but it wasn’t to be and we chose JD instead – or rather they were the only option available.

Our first set of kits, due to the incredibly short timescales involved, were the same as JD produced for Luton Town, just with an altered colour scheme. They were nothing earth-shattering, but smart and functional all the same. In total, JD produced 24 different sets of playing attire for Bournemouth over nine years.

Sub-branded as Carbrini (twice), Fila and then simply as JD for the last two seasons, they blessed with some of Bournemouth’s best ever kits and very few failures either. From an aesthetic point of view JD were, at times, virtually flawless, but it was perhaps in other area’s where they were a real let down.

Supply issues were a constant cause for discontent, whilst some supporters also claimed quality of products was a problem too, although I never agreed with that particular notion. It was obvious then, with the club now becoming an established force in the Premier League, that when JD’s contract ran out in June that they wouldn’t be coming back.

Attentions turned to who would replace them and I know from speaking with the club that this process began way back in the Summer of 2016. They explored various options, but finally settled on a five-year deal with Umbro. If I’m being totally honest they weren’t my first choice as I would have edged towards Under Armour or New Balance, but nevertheless, Umbro are a very sound choice indeed and its reassuring to see a long-term deal in place as well.
Official AFCB Bournemouth photo: Umbro sand sculpture unveiling.
The partnership was announced with the unveiling of a giant sand sculpture which was novel and innovative, clearly demonstrating what a forward-thinking club we have become regarding major announcements with the subsequent player unveilings of Defoe and Ake further adding substance to that particular statement.

The biggest plus point to agreeing a deal with someone like Umbro is that now supporters really feel the club are in partnership with a proper kit supplier, opposed to a high street sports chain that made kits almost as a side-line. Umbro quite rightly used the ‘Choice of Champions’ tag line for many years after supplying England’s 1966 World Cup winning team and since that halcyon day for English football, almost all the top clubs in World football have been resplendent in kits carrying the iconic diamonds at some point.
Sadly, Umbro were the victim of a disastrous deal which saw the brand sold to Nike in 2008 and just four years later, Nike announced that they wanted to concentrate on other areas of their operation so all Umbro clubs and National Associations were transferred to Nike and the future for the Cheshire based company was uncertain.

With clubs such as Manchester City and the English National side now being forced to wear Nike’s dreadful generic templates, Umbro were thankfully rescued by the Iconix Group and by 2014, were back supplying Premier League clubs again in the shape of Everton. West Ham followed suit a year later and with Bournemouth their latest acquisition, Umbro start 2017-18 in partnership with three PL clubs. Not quite at the levels they enjoyed 25 years ago when over half of the PL’s inaugural members were supplied by Umbro, but refreshing to see the brand making real progress forward again.

In an industry dominated by templates and a peculiar clamour for clubs to be supplied by either Nike, Puma or Adidas, the Umbro deal with Bournemouth is both reassuring and refreshing, but have they lived up to their hype?

Their first home kit production is blissfully simple, which is entirely what I and many others expected from Umbro. Some have said that the design doesn’t differ enough from 2016-17, but scratch the surface and there are obvious changes. Whilst I loved last year’s collar and buttons, we have now gone back to a rounded neck which is becoming the norm within the industry now as retro seems to be creeping out of kit design a little, although Umbro don’t appear to be using the mandate that the majority are following.
Official AFCB photo. The new Umbro home kit.
Whilst JD threw the kitchen sink at their branding, Umbro are far more restrained and the discreet diamonds on both sleeves make a refreshing change from those superfluous ‘iconic JD roundels’ - another reminder that kit intricacies from days gone by are still considered an important part of a kits make-up by Umbro.

The actual design is just so traditionally Bournemouth, and whilst I do agree that it’s similar to last years, without being overly radical, updating such a unique arrangement like red and black stripes year-on-year is a very tough ask. Discreet alterations rather than anything too far-fetched is the best policy and that is something I am certain Umbro will adopt for their next four home shirts and beyond, although I wouldn’t be averse to at least one very left field design either.

The only downside perhaps is the sponsors branding looking a little overbearing and fussy, although it does fit well with the design so I’m not unduly worried about that and it seems, although there has been no official confirmation from the club, that we won’t have a sleeve sponsor this season either. The PL have of course finally allowed a secondary sponsor on all playing kits, but haven’t enforced the rule of a solid back panel for all striped kits as was erroneously reported by some twelve months ago.

The away ensemble has somewhat surprisingly split opinion as for me this is a real masterpiece and nestles itself nicely within the very best change strips Bournemouth have ever worn [Ed-Cherry Chimes loves it!]. The blue shade used is fresh and possibly lighter than those showcased by Bourne Red in 2003 and Scoreline in the late 80’s. The contrast of using a darker blue as a secondary hue makes for a winning combination also.

Dickie Dowestt rendered in the same colours as the kit has proved to be a controversial choice to some, but I like the uniformity that this brings to a kit. It is an alternate combination after all, so I have no problem whatsoever with something a little different. A red and black crest would look odd in amongst the colours used, although we did use a traditional crest on last year’s away shirt.

One facet to this shirt that makes it an unmistakably Umbro production is the sublimated pattern printed into the main body. Despite mentioning that retro is seemingly on the wane in football fashion, Umbro have used it and to good effect within this particular offering. I haven’t actually seen the shirt in the flesh yet, but the pattern looks similar to that used within many early’90s Umbro kits and it appears to use parts of our crest also. For those who think the home shirt is a little bit plain and boring, well here is something a little more creative.

Given Umbro’s almost safety-first mantra when designing a kit nowadays, I hadn’t held out an awful lot of hope for something utterly bonkers for the third kit. If I had my way, it should be compulsory for all kit suppliers to rip up the rule book with third kits, no boundaries, the crazier the better.  

There was of course the usual Bournemouth clamour for green and black stripes, but I never have been and never will be a fan of this combination. Also, I don’t consider one diving header- albeit a very good diving header – as enough justification to use this design again. We did resurrect it in the late ‘90s, but the players and then manager Mel Machin hated it so much that part way through its second season of use, it was unceremoniously ditched for all white.

White was never going to be on the agenda this time round either as it’s a well-known fact that our manager isn’t a fan of white kits. He must be endeared by the use of day-glow yellow though as for the second year running, this retina scorching shade is contained within our third kit palette.

Albeit a little toned down compared to last years questionable ‘Ghost Green’ effort, I am still not a huge fan of any colours like this being used in a football kit. One positive is that the kit is predominately black though and the bright colour is merely a sidekick this time round. I won’t admit to being a huge fan, but then it’s not unacceptable either although it does have a training shirt look rather than an actual playing jersey.

Overall though Umbro have left off where JD did in the respect that they have produced bespoke and widely accepted playing apparel for AFC Bournemouth. Whilst unfair to judge success on just one season too, from the launch, to reveals, on sale dates and availability, Umbro seem to be delivering and long may the improvement off the field keep apace with on-field accomplishments at Dean Court too.

Gareth is the author of ‘Shirt Tales’ which is returning to the match programme this season after he wrote the ’30 Years On’ feature last season. You can follow Gareth on Twitter: @garphied

Thanks to Gareth for sharing his great knowledge on not just Umbro but all the historic details of AFCB kits and the previous labels they have used.