Premier Talk

With AFC Bournemouth's debut season in the Premier League I felt it would be appropriate to keep Cherry Chimes' eyes on some of the goings on with matters that are making the headlines in top tier and to comment on a few aspects on other teams. Some of these matters might also have direct links with gossip around the Cherries as well. 


Brighton should look at bringing in Tom Ince from Derby

The message from Derby manager Gary Rowett in May was that Tom Ince could leave the club if his fee could then be spent well on bolstering Derby’s squad. The Daily Mirror reported that top-scorer Ince was likely to be available for around £10 million and that Newcastle were then favourites to land the attacking midfielder.

Brighton will need plenty of goals if they are to stay up and Ince will get forward on the wing and does come inside to cause mayhem to defences that are caught on the back foot.

Ince has really served his time in the Championship and should be looking to play at the next level now, but he has not managed to catch the eye of the Premier League clubs yet.

Anthony Knockaert will be the player that Albion pin their hopes on to add most of the flare in their first Premier League campaign but if he gets injured they don’t have similar quality wide men.

Brighton may expect Solly March to take well to the Premier League, but he missed quite a bit of last season. It has been rumoured that Kazenga Lua Lua will be moved on, which would give Houghton some option of bringing in a new winger. 


Meanwhile, Brighton have been linked with Vanencia keeper Mathew Ryan who could become Brighton’s first new signing.




Will Palace go Dutch for their new manager?
The decision of Sam Allardyce to resign from his position at Crystal Palace came as a deep shock for Palace fans after he did such a stellar job at keeping the side up. You might expect the London club to now be wondering how it can stabilise after its plans for the new season are dependent on getting in the right manager. But there are some great candidates out there and whoever comes in has a very talented squad of players who just need some organisation as Allardyce showed.

It looks like Palace might be looking for another old wise head rather than anything else and the Croydon Advertiser has commented that the odds have shortened on Roy Hodgson being the man that is in the frame. Hodgson is experienced and did reasonably well at Fulham when they were in the Premier League, but his time at Liverpool and as England manager will give Palace fans some nervy thoughts about him being installed in the vacant position.

Another hopeful for the position is said to be Claudio Ranieri according to SkySports. Can you see a quick return to the Premier League for Ranieri? To me it seems he would be better suited going abroad now to get over his relegation contest that Leicester were dragged into last season and with Palace’s flirtation with the drop it would not be a positive marriage in my opinion.

Steve Parish says the club has a long list of applicants and it is only right that they should be a popular choice for any aspiring manager as they have some of the most exciting attacking players in the division. Wilfred Zaha has already signed a new five-year contract in May and his form along with the wide play of Andros Townsend makes it easy for Benteke to get the goals.

The Daily Express reports that there is a bigger name now in talks with the Crystal Palace board. Frank de Boer is now getting Palace fans excited as he makes his move to be the next Eagles manager. His Dutch style of play and international credentials would certainly elevate the expectations at Selhurst Park. English fans have seen how well Dutchman Ronald Koemann has done at Southampton and Everton, and perhaps Frank de Boer will similarly find the Premier League a good fit. De Boer has been at Inter Milan since 2016 when he signed a three-year contract having left Dutch side Ajax, but would moving to Palace be a backwards move?



It would seem hard for many managers to leave the Italian giants for a mid-table London club, but such is the lure of the Premier League and the players already at Selhurst Park that it just might be a challenge that Frank de Boer says yes to.    


Will Palace go Dutch for their new manager?
The decision of Sam Allardyce to resign from his position at Crystal Palace came as a deep shock for Palace fans after he did such a stellar job at keeping the side up. You might expect the London club to now be wondering how it can stabilise after its plans for the new season are dependent on getting in the right manager. But there are some great candidates out there and whoever comes in has a very talented squad of players who just need some organisation as Allardyce showed.

It looks like Palace might be looking for another old wise head rather than anything else and the Croydon Advertiser has commented that the odds have shortened on Roy Hodgson being the man that is in the frame. Hodgson is experienced and did reasonably well at Fulham when they were in the Premier League, but his time at Liverpool and as England manager will give Palace fans some nervy thoughts about him being installed in the vacant position.

Another hopeful for the position is said to be Claudio Ranieri according to SkySports. Can you see a quick return to the Premier League for Ranieri? To me it seems he would be better suited going abroad now to get over his relegation contest that Leicester were dragged into last season and with Palace’s flirtation with the drop it would not be a positive marriage in my opinion.

Steve Parish says the club has a long list of applicants and it is only right that they should be a popular choice for any aspiring manager as they have some of the most exciting attacking players in the division. Wilfred Zaha has already signed a new five-year contract in May and his form along with the wide play of Andros Townsend makes it easy for Benteke to get the goals.

The Daily Express reports that there is a bigger name now in talks with the Crystal Palace board. Frank de Boer is now getting Palace fans excited as he makes his move to be the next Eagles manager. His Dutch style of play and international credentials would certainly elevate the expectations at Selhurst Park. English fans have seen how well Dutchman Ronald Koemann has done at Southampton and Everton, and perhaps Frank de Boer will similarly find the Premier League a good fit. De Boer has been at Inter Milan since 2016 when he signed a three-year contract having left Dutch side Ajax, but would moving to Palace be a backwards move?

It would seem hard for many managers to leave the Italian giants for a mid-table London club, but such is the lure of the Premier League and the players already at Selhurst Park that it just might be a challenge that Frank de Boer says yes to.    




Gylfi Sigurdsson move to Everton would alert teams to Ross Barkley exit

There have been rumours for a while now that Everton are poised to make a move for Swansea City’s Icelandic star, and the qualities that he would bring to the Everton team would certainly improve their midfield.

I’m not so sure that it would be great news for Ross Barkley though who had a difficult 2016/17 season and may be forced to spend more time on the bench or could even find himself forced out of Goodison Park.
 
Gylfi at Dean Court earlier this year.
Gylfi – a driving force
David Wright at the Daily Express has been pointing out why both Everton and Tottenham Hotspur are interested in the Swansea playmaker and that former Icelandic team-mate Eidur Gudjohnsen believes the time could be right for Sigurdsson to move. You can see why

Ronald Koeman would be interested in bringing in Sigurdsson as a new driving force to the Toffees’ midfield. He would be an inspiration to the young and energetic Tom Davies and would add more clinical finishing to the side that have been reliant of Romelo Lukaku to get the majority of their goals.

Swansea have been fortunate to have kept hold of such a loyal player for the last couple of seasons, when his performances have been so impressive, in a team that has found it hard to put many back-to-back wins together. They themselves need to rebuild their squad and the transfer fee that Sigurdsson would afford with two-years still left on his contract must be on the mind of Paul Clement, even if he, and the owners - Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan - don’t want to sell him.

Barkley on the way out?
There has been speculation that Ross Barkley will also not sign a new deal and Gylfi Sigurdsson would be an ideal replacement for the Everton born-and-bread England midfielder. Koeman basically gave him an ultimatum to sign or start looking for another club, and the relationship between the two has been fragile at best since Koeman’s arrival from Southampton. Koeman’s stance to Barkley’s reluctance to sign a new deal at Everton has been indifferent to say the least, as reported by the Guardian.

Where Barkley would end up is even more of a quandary as he may struggle to get in a side like Tottenham or Man Utd, according to Paul Merson, and he would need games to keep his England place. A move to London and West Ham Utd could be Barkley’s best option, rather than spend a season from the stands at Goodison.



2016/17 season

One from three? - Swansea, Hull and Burnley
The stakes are very high now with just a few game to go. While Middlesbrough and Sunderland can do further damage to each other this Wednesday, they race seems to be run already and it looks like any one from three to join them. You may think that Burnley have done almost enough but their fixtures are certainly games they could get a low return from with all the teams they have to play sitting higher than them. You'd also fancy Hull City and Swansea to win some of their games considering their form and need to scrap for everything.

Three wins in their last five have drive Crystal Palace well clear of the danger zone and you start to wonder what Allardyce would have done if he had stayed England's manager. He gets a tune out of teams and has made Palace look like a top six side. It demonstrates that it is possible to escape from the foot of the league when you get organised. As for AFCB, they have the points on the board that are edging them to safety and any points at Sunderland would surely be enough now.


Who said the title race was over?
Jose Mourinho knows how to spoil a party and while he holds a lot of respect for his former team, he will have delighted in paying Antonio Conte back for the 4-0 stuffing they suffered at Stamford Bridge back in October after his side's 2-0 win this last weekend. So there are just four points between Spurs and Chelsea now and six fixtures to go it is just possible that we could be kept waiting until the final game in the season to see who succeeds Leicester City in lifting the trophy. Chelsea will remain favourites though with probably their next two league games against Southampton and Everton likely to be the only games where they might drop points. Spurs have it all to do with Man Utd away and several London derby games to count among their remaining games. 

How significant will next week's FA Cup semi-final be between Chelsea and Spurs? I don't think it will make a huge difference as both teams know what they need to do to win the league and it doesn't involve playing each other again. While Man Utd have put the title race back on, I suspect that Jose will also have a big say in whether the race is ended when Spurs travel to Old Trafford in a few weeks time. Chelsea fans may yet be thanking Jose come 21st May.


Pressure back on the Cherries
There is no such position as a comfortable place in the Premier League if the points are not enough in the bank to make you completely safe. The results last night went as bad as they could have for the Cherries with Watford, Burnley and Leicester all picking up crucial wins to take them above the Cherries. The importance of the two dropped points at Southampton really shines brightly now and it will put more pressure on Bournemouth who now have a difficult run of three fixtures. The positive fans will say that the games are in Bournemouth's hands and with an unbeaten run to protect there is no need to go into the next few games with any negative thoughts. The points are there to be won and the carrot of a win would take the Cherries up to 9th which seems incredible. It's time to deliver for Eddie Howe's men.


Have Leicester made the right decision to sack Ranieri?
I was not so shocked that Claudio Ranieri has been sacked but the timing is a bit strange for me. Personally, I would have let him carry on after their mid-week performance in the Champions League against Sevilla. Although the club is sliding towards the relegation zone, this will heap more pressure on their players who have let Ranieri down. The bounce factor of a new manager does not always happen and this rolls the dice for the Foxes. It shows that a great season in the Premier League can be the undoing of a team and charting consistency is still the direction that teams need to pursue to build success on safer ground. AFCB thought they were in for a sensational season but it has become a real struggle and while that is worrying it maybe that just doing enough to stay up will be better for the club than seeing them feel that everything is perfect had they stormed into the top half of the table.

I still believe Leicester would have survived had Ranieri stayed but Leicester could have given the other teams around them more incentive to push on.


Why oh why is it transfer deadline day with matches going on?
I wonder what goes into Premier League planners when they come up with a transfer deadline closing on the same day as matches being played in the league. It has to have been a major oversight as of the teams playing tonight I doubt there are any of them that will want to be dealing with players coming in or going out after 6pm tonight. Still the window is open and while that is all going on the focus has to be on the match that is being played. Whether it effects the players as much as the managers I don't know but it can't be easy if you are sitting on a move. Potential we could well have a player scoring a winning goal for his side tonight only to find he has been sold by midnight. In reality, I just imagine that it will mean a very quiet January window deadline day as if moves have not already been agreed it will be a bigger headache than ever to get them through on time. 



Hull City - genius or bonkers?
Tonight, Hull City go up against Man Utd in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final. But the talk is not so about the match but the strategy of Hull City's owners who seem to have a fire sale on with the likes of Jake Livermore leaving for WBA and Robert Snodgrass departing for West Ham. TalkSport had a very good discussion on whether the Hull fans thought this was acceptable or bonkers and I was interested to hear that not all of the Hull fans thought it was crazy. Some are resigned to going down and think the price they can get now for their best players is right to cash on. Snodgrass could not get the contract he wanted at Hull because the club does not know if  it will be a Premier League club next season. Jake Livermore was said to be a player that would not be the key to keeping them up. But in the remaining days of the window they could lose other players if clubs feel they are a soft target and they are being replaced by loan players for the new manager, Marco Silva. Whether Silva gets to buy players on long term contracts in the summer is disputed as he himself may be gone by then if Hull take the drop. I can imagine the conversations in the stands at the KCOM will be pretty lively today, if the Hull fans even want to turn up to see their side play. 


Bench warming for Aké
While Chelsea fans were busy celebrating their 2-0 home win over a Hull City team that AFCB know are very spirited, I wondered what could be going through the mind of one player sitting on Chelsea's bench. Nathan Aké is finding that his great play at AFCB is being rewarded with a spot of bench warming as he watched David Luiz and Gary Cahill parade in front of him for 90 minutes as Conte can find no place for him in this title chasing side. 

Of course, if there is an injury to Chelsea's star names Nathan may well get a go in the team, but in the meantime it seems a waste of his services while AFCB are having to reorganise themselves at the back because of his recall. Yes, he is Chelsea's player and they can do what they like but what good does the loan system do for a player like Aké who is fit and healthy and ready to play games but ends up being a spectator? Sure he can train with Chelsea's elite, but do you think he feels apart of that team when he has been on loan firstly at at Watford last season and then at the Cherries? 

Whether Chelsea win the title or not it is likely that Aké will have some thinking to do this summer - can he break into the Chelsea team or would he be better off finding a regular starting place elsewhere? Clubs can't expect loyalty from players when they are sent out one minute and dragged bag the next only to watch games. 

As you were
Dele Ali is quite some player and he had no problem in stopping Chelsea's 13 game run at White Hart Lane with a brace of goals. He may have disappointed at the Euros but he is becoming a special player and it's no wonder that he is drawing the attention of Real Madrid. Spurs are still some way behind Chelsea but having got only their fifth ever win over them they must consider themselves still in the title race. I can only imagine that Arsenal fans feel even more sick after how events have turned out this week. I did expect Chelsea to bully Spurs two headers from Ali has given Antonio Conte notice that his side are not all conquering and he has said that he will spend in January. We could yet be in for a close title race if Liverpool and Spurs can close the gap at the top.


The title fight is on
Chelsea go to White Hart Lane knowing that a win will really open up a big gap at the top of the table. I thought Spurs were tremendous at the weekend against Watford, but they now face a side that likes to bully teams. Chelsea will know that they can put Spurs out of the picture if they can grab three points tonight. It''s a mental thing that Chelsea believe that they are the best players and the best side in the league. Spurs hope that they can make a bid for the title. It's a huge difference and Spurs are in a similar category to Arsenal in that respect. Until they go and put one over Chelsea in a must win game like this they will be a good team and not a great one. I would love to see Deli Ali and Harry Kane play like giants against Chelsea to open up the title race. Spurs have players that are good enough to beat Chelsea but have they got the stomach to really take the game away from a Chelsea side that seemingly just won't be denied? The thing is Chelsea have done it before. They know what it takes. Still, good luck Spurs. 

Is the Premier League title race all over?
The gap at the top is starting to look ominous for those chasing Chelsea. Eleven games unbeaten and none points clear is a pretty healthy position for a team to be in with half the games just about gone, but it's not an insurmountable gap. What Chelsea can be confident of though is that the five clubs best placed to attack them will be taking points off of each other and if they can grab further points off of those teams they will start to look uncatchable.

It falls to AFCB to be the next side to try and halt the Blues steaming towards that title. At Stamford Bridge Chelsea have not been beaten since 16 September, and they've had seven home wins out of eight since August. It's not the same side that AFCB took on last season and even if they have only been winning games 1-0 of late, they keep winning.


The question is, can you see any of the chasing sides going on a run of winning some 11 games to at least put them in with a shout of the title? I'd only say Man City could be capable of that, but stranger things have happened.

Swansea 5-4 Palace - And that's why we love the Premier League!
I was flicking through the screens on Saturday wondering which game would be the most entertaining to watch. The way Liverpool tried to batter the Sunderland defence was enthralling, the inability of Leicester City to find their feet after the European success was captivating but I could not take my eyes off the Swansea v Palace game. It wasn't only the way the goals were flying in, but also the pictures of the fans' faces and the despair on the touchline from the two managers who knew this would be massive in their stories for Premier League survival this season. Alan Pardew may now be seen as manager that is unable to get his side to win a game. He had it in his grasp on 90 minutes of this game and it would have been just the story to keep his doubters quiet having come back from 3-1 down, but Swansea's late, late show will go down in Premier League history. Bob Bradley will be exhausted if it takes this much effort every week for his side to win a game, but he'll be overjoyed tonight that Swansea City now have eight points, even if they are still bottom.

But looking at Palace on the final whistle, with Tomkins head in hands, this has to have been the kind of result that will have much more of a devastating affect than just losing the three points. That is six defeats for them on the bounce for Palace.


Liverpool and Chelsea - the pace setters
There is a freshness about the top of the Premier League table at the moment. No many fans would have expected Liverpool and Chelsea to be leading the way after 11 games, but they have both played exciting, attacking football and the result has been plenty of goals. I'm very impressed with Diego Costa and the way he has rebuilt his name by playing and scoring this season rather than getting into so many arguments. When he just plays football, he can be sensational and it is what fans were treated to when he first came to the Premier League and now he seems to be getting back to that. meanwhile, Eden Hazard has just raised his game to another level. I can't quite understand just how poor Chelsea were last season when you see what they are doing today.

Liverpool's Mane has also been the talk of many commentators on why the Anfield brigade are doing so well. He has kept Daniels Sturridge out of the starting line up and has been a great fit on Merseyside and is probably playing the best football of his career. Both of these teams are just going for goals. You don't hear Klopp of Conte dwell on any negatives and they are inspiring their players to fantastic performances.

While AFCB will face both of these teams in December, it is probably the best month for the Cherries to take on table-toppers being traditionally the strongest part of the season for AFCB teams in recent years. But stopping Chelsea and Liverpool will be difficult for any Premier League team this season.


It's romantic but not wise to think of Rooney back at Everton
Ronald Koeman has said how he would love Wayne Rooney to come to Everton if available in the January window and while Mourhino says he'd never let Rooney leave Old Trafford it is clear that Rooney is not going to be the future at Man Utd. But why would Everton want Rooney? Yes, he started his career there and may be Rooney would give a few per cent more in games because he was putting on an Everton short again, but he is not the player he was. The wage bill would also be huge. However, I can't see how Rooney improves Everton. While he has won things and Everton don't exactly have a cupboard of winners medals, I'd be more inclined to reach out for Michael Carrick than Wayne Rooney this January.  Man Utd seem to want to let players go to waste but looking at their squad there are not too many players that get me excited and I wonder how many Everton fans would really be thrilled with the prospect of Rooney walking back through the gates at Goodison.


Even the smaller teams want points in the Premier League
Garth Crooks on the BBC during Final Score was racking his brain about why Spurs and Arsenal had dropped points while the door was left fully open for Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea to make moves up the table. He forgot that the Middlesbrough's and Bournemouth's of this world are not only looking to be defiant but are set up to take points off the top teams. We have already seen Liverpool and Everton come unstuck at Burnley, while WBA and AFCB have also stopped Spurs from adding wins. The big teams are not running away with things anymore as Leicester demonstrated last season. The league has become far more competitive and here are no more home bankers. At the moment, the top seven look to be the clubs that have the biggest funds and the biggest number of followers, although West Ham are perhaps playing catch up on where they would expect to be. It is interesting to hear how quickly though that pundits are changing their tune about AFCB and what they might achieve this season. They may want to put the club's progress down to Jack Wilshere but there are many good players at AFCB now.  

All eyes on Anfield
There are some weeks when the odd game are hyped up to fever pitch and the Liverpool v Man Utd derby is one of those games that even the casual fan feels compelled to watch. While the game means more to the fans of the two clubs it is possibly a game that will be one of those that defines the season for Klopp and Mourhino's sides. Have Liverpool overtaken the Red Devils in terms of the quality they have now on the pitch or can Utd use this game to re-boot their winning ways? It is an intriguing contest and whether you like Mourhino talking about referees before a match or not there is huge pressure on Anthony Taylor and he probably didn't need any more attention on him before a ball has even been kicked. Still, everyone watching will judge his performance just as they will the players. Perhaps it is a way of taking the spotlight off of Wayne Rooney? Clearly Man Utd still currently sit below all their main rivals for the title in the league and that will look even more evident after the game if Utd don't win this one. Liverpool are as annoying as the noisy neighbours for Utd and losing to City already does not sit well with Mourhino. He needs instant results and yet there is something not quite right about the Man Utd team, it's still a little ponderous and Rooney aside, there is more quality needed from Pogba and others in the Utd gang to show that they really are top four let alone title contenders. Utd will see this game as a gateway to that top four status, but Klopp's side have all the ammunition to bolt the door on Utd's aspirations. 



Bob Bradley is confident but can he deliver for Swansea?
There has been a mixed reaction to the sacking of Francsco Guidolin and the appointment of the brach sounding Bob Bradley at Swansea City.  The Swans have really been in transition since the departure of Gary Monk last season and there is a feeling that they have lost their identity a bit a long the way. With Ashley Williams also leaving for Everton, the Welsh side have not found it easy to keep the goals against down and now they have a manager that sounds like he is about to stir things up even if he says he's not a pioneer. Okay, Bradley has been a US and Egyptian national coach and has had success in the MLS with Metro Stars, but does that make him a manager in the calibre of the top Premier League names? With new US owners on the board, Swansea City seem geared to go stars and stripes (I expect a change of kit soon to red and blue), even if the fans who own more than 20 per cnet of the company are not so cheerful about the changes. A few wins might change that, but if it goes the other way they won't be the first club to have hot the panic button only to regret doing it by the end of the season.

Tottenham stake their title claim
The match between Spurs and Man City was highly anticipated as it was first against second and two unbeaten records were on the line. While Pep Guardiola has found the answer to everything so far, he could not find an antidote to the desire of a Spurs team who pressed high and did not let City get into their stride. This was a good result for the title race if not for City. Everyone will have an off day or two though and the defeat has probably been an invaluable lesson for Man City. I'm more concerned about what the win will do to Spurs. They have not played as well as last season yet and somehow are in second just behind City. With this win they will be aware that they are contenders and that they can beat any team at White Hart Lane. But Spurs have a series of away games to come including the match against AFCB after WBA and  Bayer Leverkusen. Eddie Howe can take notes from how Tony Pulis' side tries to deal with Spurs and will probably see the German side be even more positive in how they approach the problem. Let's hope that Eddie finds a few weaknesses as AFCB need to keep their home form going strongly.


Less convincing was Arsenal's last minute winner at Burnley. While Koscielny was fortunate to bundle the ball over the line with his arm certainly involved in the direction the ball took, for AFCB it is probably more helpful that Burnley don't pick up any points against a top team at home.


Stoke City fans should not fret just yet
I never get tiered of the way that unusual results can rear their head in the Premier League and this season is already shaping up to be one with some unbelievable results. While AFCB's win against Everton will have spoiled some accumulators, I was really staggered at the way Arsenal blew Chelsea away in the first half hour of their game. And even though fans are talking about the Gunners and Liverpool, its Spurs who sit just in behind Man City. The league is still very close and in its early stages but I'm already expecting it to be the tightest season ever for teams in mid-table and the bottom. I don't see much difference in the quality of Stoke City and Crystal Palace and yet the gap in positions is probably already alarming to Stoke City fans. But a couple of wins and things can change right round and while AFCB fans were despondent last week, they are almost in shock after the win against Everton. So if I was a Stoke fan I would not be too harsh on their team or manager yet. The problem comes when losing becomes a habit. At least Stoke are starting to pick up points whereas Sunderland are seeing them slip through their fingers. I don't think many would have had West Ham in their bottom three after six games but there is more than just the unfamiliarity of a new home ground behind their poor results. But if the likes of AFCB, WBA and Hull City wins next week, these three teams will have got a quarter of the way towards safety. Some people will already be re-evaluating who will be ending up in the bottom three.

The Manchester derby is massive, but more so for Utd
This Saturday there is only one match that will have the pundits jumping out of their seats. Man Utd v Man City will be the first indication of who might be best equipped to go all the way and win trophies this season having spent mega bucks over the summer. I can only see Man Utd winning the game as they have more to gain in catching City now with Mourhino pushing them on to achieve dominance in the game. While Pep will feel he has a tactical plan to stop Utd, it will be the players on the pitch that call the shots I feel and Ibrahimovic has already been teasing Claudio Bravo that he is going to have a busy time. You can sense that this game means everything to the Utd players and at Old Trafford they will want to get the job done to gain that early momentum in the title race. If City lose they will see it as a setback from which they can recover, but if Utd were to lose it would really be a crushing blow in Mourhino's master plan. It is their first step back on the way to the top four and they crave that success. As a neutral, I can sit back and admire the spectacle but it will be the biggest three points that will have been won so far this season. Utd simply can't afford to lose.


Have the BBC got it right with another Premier League show?
You can't knock the BBC at trying to ring out even more coverage of football during the week with their new programme on a Thursdays night hosted by Gaby Logan and including Gary Lineker, Ian Wright and Jermaine Jenas - The Premier League Show. Last night was the launch on BBC 2 at 10pm and there big hitting feature was an interview of Liverpool Jurgen Klopp with Gary Lineker asking the questions. I settled back and waited for the entertainment and while I enjoyed listening to Jurgen and his need to provide memorable games to get fans coming back I am not sure that the BBC will have fans running to get back in front of the TV next week. The relaxed style was not the problem it was the content that was fairly lightweight and with the usual faces. Where were the player reviews and high insight into what the Premier League has become - I would have liked to see some probing into the Premier League itself and their top executives but perhaps that will come. Half an hour is not long to pack some content into but I felt I wanted more. The MOTDay2 Extra on a Sunday is so good with Mark Chapman where they invite top journalists on to talk about games is great for understanding and Football Focus is our staple diet of lighthearted contact with the players and managers, while MOT Day gives us our matches. What I can't quite work out is what the Premier League Show was trying to do. Perhaps we are being spoilt with all these programmes but I was far more drawn to the cut and thrust of the fortunes of Salford on BBC 1 an hour earlier and the Class of 92 - still out of their league. It was exciting and raw - more of that please BBC. 


The unpredictable Premier League kicks off
Well the waiting is over and the season has kicked off. It seems a bit early with things like the Olympics still going on. But fighting for air time is not a major headache - football wins for the diehards and the Premier League is already upsetting the pre-season betting odds. The odds on Hull City being top on the first Saturday were probably fairly long and Leicester City have already come down to earth after their heroics of last season. Every team will fancy their chances of picking up points and that is what makes this league so intriguing. Just a two-nil win will put any of the sides playing on Sunday or Monday at the top of the league at the moment and there is already some wonder over whether this is going to be a much tighter season. It was a point to note that all the away teams scored a goal on Saturday and keeping a clean sheet would be something that should never be underestimated - against a team like Man Utd I'd take that every time.   


Will David Moyes make Sunderland better?
The managerial change at Sunderland was forced on them but Moyes has been the man that the Black Cats have been after in the last five managerial changes so is he the right man for the job? I would have had Sunderland among my three for possible relegation if Sam Allardyce had stayed despite his record, but Moyes knows how to set up a team to defend at that was the main weakness of this side. Given the finds and some organisation, I can see the Black Cats being much harder to beat and while I still see them in the bottom tier of the division I'd say that this has given them a boost.


Steve Bruce exits side door left! where will he reappear?
It was rather a shock to see Steve Bruce leave Hull City moments after being interviewed for the England manager's job. Perhaps he feels his stock has been raised. Anyway, he didn't want to stay at Hull City which must have thrown their Premier League preparations into real confusion - good news for AFCB I hope. While Ryan Giggs is an early favourite for the Hull City job it has to be wondered whether Steve Bruce is headed up the road to Sunderland with a vacancy there to be filled? What of Hull City's signings though this summer - only one lad brought in Jonathan Edwards from Peterborough on free transfer - it doesn't look good for the Tigers.


Bang! here come the big spenders
It did take a while for the transfer market to get going for the likes of Chelsea, ManCity and Man Utd, but the signs are that it's about to kick off with the signing of N'Golo Kante from Leicester to Chelsea in a £32m move. What does this mean for Leicester City? While they have kept hold of Jamie Vardy it is expected that Riyad Mahrez will be next out of the door and their European adventure is going to look a little different if they have to build it with a new side. Chelsea though are already looking strong with Kante and the £33.2m signing of Michy Batshuayi make them a different proposition.

Meanwhile, Man Utd are expected to add to their Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Baily and Henrikh Mkhitaryan signings with Paul Pogba from Juventas but that will cost in the region of £100m. A staggering fee that will be a new world record and I'm not sure he is consistent enough to command a fee of 50m personally.

Arsenal of course reluctantly spent some money and it was a big one at £34m Granit Xhaka, but the need a striker if they are to try and win the title and so I'd expect more news from the Emirates soon. 

Will Liverpool make a challenge for the top four? They have splashed out £36m in Saido Mane from Southampton but they need a better keeper and some central defenders to boost their challenge. 

Man City have been moderate in their spending so far in signing Likay Gundogan for £21m from Borussia Dortmund and Nolito from Celta Vigo for £13.8m. 

It will be hectic from now on I'd imagine but AFCB are well ahead of the game and that's not a bad thing when the club is about to enter its most difficult season ever.





2015/16 Season
Sunderland survive
My first thoughts when seeing the goals fly in against Everton at the Stadium of Light last night was there goes any AFCB fan hopes of bringing Jermain Defoe back to Dean Court. Jermain has had an excellent season and he has got them out of jail if anyone has. It was cruel news or Norwich City in particular who finally found their stride with a thumping 4-2 win against Watford, but the Canaries have not netted frequently enough in the 38 games while Newcastle not only have to deal with the disappointment of going down but also the spending they did in January as well as perhaps having to find another new manager.

Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce has kept another side up who looked certain relegation candidates. He is a manager who can keep teams up and he's proved it many times and for that he deserves immense respect. If Sunderland now do a Leicester next season you wonder if he'll ever need to pay for another meal in the city again.

Middlesbrough and Sunderland will ensure that the northeast is represented in the Premier League next season now, but with Burnley also adding a northwest flavour to proceedings I have suddenly been more wanting to see Brighton find their way through the play-offs successfully if only to lower my travel costs!


Chelsea deliver the title to Ranieri's boys 
It was never going to be a friendly affair between Chelsea and Spurs. The game boiled over several times and the tension in the game was so exhilarating to watch that I imagine people were on the edge of their seat up and down the country. It was perhaps more of a nervous night for those in the midland's city of Leicester, but their season is now one that has seen underdogs go on to be Premier League Champions and the Foxes can enjoy their next home game in some style.

Aden Hazard was the man that Leicester fans should be especially thankful to. He only entered the game against Spurs in the second half but his impact was massive. While Gary Cahill pulled the first goal back for the former Champions it was Hazard working his magic with the ever eager Diego Costa that salvaged a point and saw Tottenham's title hopes finally wrecked. If anything I suspect that this disappointment might actually make Spurs an even better side in the long term. They will be at that lowest ebb now but they have had a fantastic season and can take what they have learnt into next season. But for Leicester it is an unlikely dream come true and for the Foxes the dream will go on next season in the Champions League. It is a great story and the losers are not Spurs, but the millions shed out by Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea as well as the money not spent by Arsenal.


Newcastle's biggest mistake was taking their time to replace McClaren
Newcastle fans might well be bemoaning their luck last night having played probably one of their best games of the season only to be punished early on by an offside goal from Mr Aguero. While Rafa Benitez was very calm and polite in his disappointment over the official's mistake which could cost the club its Premier League status, if Newcastle want to blame anyone for the position they are in they have to look at why it took the club so log to replace Steve McClaren. The Toon Army were just three points behind AFCB back at the end of December and two points behind Swansea but still sitting in the bottom three on 17 points from 19 games. Sunderland and Aston Villa were virtually adrift on 12 and eight points respectfully, but everything was considered to be all to play for and they had had so many managers in the last few years that another change was not on the mind of Mike Ashley. Being loyal at the wrong time has left them with the right man at probably the wrong time and Benitez has his work cut out to keep Newcastle up now. You wonder where was that fighting spirit that we saw against Man City last night back in January?  


Are Spurs going to pinch the title?
Even up to a few games ago I would not really have given you much hope of Spurs snatching the title away from Leicester, but the song at the Britannia "we're coming for you!" was heard loud and clear up the A50 to the King Power stadium. After thumping Man Utd and now Stoke City there is a majestic kind of feel to the way Spurs are playing.

With Jamie Vardy now expecting a more lengthy suspension than one game, the odds are starting to fall further towards Pochettino's side as they hunt down the Foxes. For the neutral fan it is just the kind of finish we have wished for but in another sense it is like Goliath chasing down David and if Leicester do lose the title from here you wonder what kind of damage that would do to those players for next season.

Spurs were so good they even had time to see Dele Alli run round everyone and smack the post when he had an open goal. Mauricio Pochettino's reaction on the touch line, punching the ground, was just as entertaining as Sam Allardyce's intervention at the weekend. If you never thought managers live every moment of the game you clearly could see that Pochettino was kicking every ball. Now the gap is five points and I'm not sure who my money is on?

Is the table so unusual?
This weekend I had expected to see Man Utd make a move to close the gap on the top four but like their coach, their timing was out and Spurs hung on to the tails of Leicester City who are marching towards the title. Man City kept the pressure up on Arsenal who are feeling the heat of having to play London derby's with another one for them coming next week against palace. So are we seeing the top four staying in the same positions until the end of the season now? It looks that way which would mean Man Utd and Chelsea probably being this season's biggest losers in missing out on Champions League football.

At the bottom it looks a straight fight between Sunderland and Norwich for survival and next week's game will be pivotal in deciding the overall outcome. To be honest I'd be surprised if any of the current bottom four manage more than 35 points looking at their run ins, which makes the Cherries performance see all the better. While Leicester and West Ham are the surprise packages in the top six and both Manchester clubs have under performed it's not such a crazy league table as some pundits will have you believe. If you can't defend you end up down the bottom - it's quite simple. The only stranger in that assumption s AFCB who have conceded 55 goals - only the bottom four have conceded more.


Count on Man Utd to be title spoilers
It looks ominous for Spurs supporters after last weekend's results. A good draw at Anfield is probably not enough to keep them in the hunt for the title as it is but with their next game at home to Man Utd the pressure will be on both Utd and Spurs but it is the Red Devil's that have the history of dealing with the big occasion. Luis van Gaal has had a tough season but he can see that the fourth place finish is now on and if his side can beat Spurs at White Hart Lane they could well put themselves in the driving seat to sneak into next year's Champions League.

Man City have a tricky home game to WBA and then still have to play Chelsea at home and Arsenal away while Man Utd's crunch matches after this coming weekend will be Leicester at home and West Ham away. I believe the task is too big for West Ham now with their fixture list to come to finish in the top four, but one of the Manchester teams is also going to lose out and that team I see as being City with Utd grabbing a lifeline for the big money and status for the 2016-17 season.



Fan pressure works
BBC photo: THE Cherries' £20 is plenty banner.
It is great to know that all the walkouts and the £20 is plenty campaign eventually has made the Premier League clubs make some kind of commitment to away fans by capping prices for the next three seasons at £30. It should not have come to mass protests and national campaigns though to make the top 20 clubs in our English league share a little of their massive wealth on the fans rather on their wages for the players coming from the huge new TV rights package.

Like most of you I paid whopping £50 for my ticket to see the Cherries play at Stamford Bridge this season and an account busting £42 to see them play Man City. I imagine our visit to Old Trafford will be something similar, but it is pleasing that a stop has been put to this for at least a few years as fans have to save like mad as it is just for the home season ticket. There is good news on this as well with season ticket prices being frozen by Spurs and LiverpoolMan Utd and ArsenalStoke City, while Everton have reduced theirs, so I can only hope that AFCB are taking note after their £32 FA Cup tickets for Everton at home and next year's season tickets! With talk of ground expansion though I am not overly hopeful of anything more than a freeze in prices at Dean Court.


It is important that fans don't ease up though in persuading clubs to give fans a fairer deal unless they want empty stands.

Don't let Gus Hiddink leave the Premier League next season
It will astound me when you hear Man Utd fans baying for the axe to fall on Van Gaal, Newcastle supporters hoping that Steve McClaren is ousted and West Brom followers are fed up with Tony Pulis' style of football if no one talks about approaching Gus Hiddink for next season. While Gus is remaining at Stamford Bridge for the last 10 games of 2015/16 and may even go on to lift the FA Cup or the Champions' League trophy with Chelsea, he has to be a candidate for some of the clubs that are thinking about a change of manager. His record in the Premier League is outstanding and he has brought back the feel good factor as well as the points to a Chelsea team that were going nowhere under Mourinho. Tomorrow he will try and overturn a 2-1 deficit to Paris St-Germain in the Champions League and if he does that he will have already done better than the Blues did last season in the competition when they were knocked out by the French team by away goals after extra time.

Even Arsenal might do well to consider what they stand to gain by keeping with Arsene Wenger. Gus is 69 and three years older than Wenger, but he has more energy and communication with his players. What could he do with that Arsenal side given the chance? He'd turn them into winners at an instant!


They would all rather have a scrap for fourth place
Last night was an astonishing evening for football results in the Premier League. Spurs and Arsenal have faltered just when they needed to put pressure on front-running Leicester City, and Man City found a disgruntled Liverpool just too hot to handle. The race is not over for the title but the Foxes must be looking at the table with some glee now. Arsenal have bottled it twice now against Man Utd and Swansea, which is just not title winning form. Spurs might come again but the two north London rivals go head-to-head this weekend and they are leaving the door ajar for Leicester to extend their lead. It seems that everyone wants to finish fourth. Their is a real bundle now with Man Utd andWest Ham still with eyes on a Champions League spot. How sick must Southampton feel about their midweek defeat to the Cherries now? But the Saints are not far away and there's another team that also may have a big say in things yet....

.....Chelsea are sneaking up on the quiet
A little bit of Gus Hiddink magic sprinkled over the egos of a few of the star names at Stamford Bridge has certainly bought the best out of the Chelsea brigade who on Tuesday night silently slipped into eight place in the league ahead of teams like Liverpool and Stoke City for a moment on Tuesday. Now just seven points off the top six, it is certainly possible for Gus to get the Blues into Europe next season and he has a chance to win the FA Cup and the Champions League don’t forget if the tie against Paris St-Germain can be turned round at Stamford Bridge.

AFC Bournemouth still have to play Chelsea at home in April in what could be a game that becomes more important for Chelsea than for the Cherries if AFCB are safe by then. The rise of Chelsea back up the league though was expected, even if it has taken some time. It says more to me about the lack of quality in some of the mid-table teams more than anything else. Next season AFCB will hope to be competing with those teams and they may not be as far behind them as might have been imagined in the past. Their are many big named clubs in the Premier League, but many of them are going nowhere which represents a real opportunity for clubs like the Cherries to establish themselves in this league for a few years to come.


Arsenal favourites to lift the title?
The game at the Emirates between Leicester and Arsenal was a title decider and for the Gooners to pinch the win in the final seconds of the game was a devastating blow to the Foxes. But Danny Simpson had been the real villain with his silly sending off. Arsenal may feel that they can go on to win the title but Leicester City are still in the box seat for me, especially as they just have 12 games to worry about and no distractions. It could have been very different with Vardy's cleverly won penalty in the first half. Monreal made a big mistake to leave his leg out for Vardy to draw the foul and Jasper Schmeichel pulled off some amazing saves during the game. Arsenal were brave for once though and their subs got them the goals to open the door again on the title race.

The funny thing is that Arsenal may only have opened the door for rivals Spurs to benefit. The odds were against Pochettino's side at the Etihad and yet they also triumphed having lost there on their past five visits. It could be the end of Manchester's bid for the title as City and United both tail Leicester, Arsenal and Spurs by a long way now.  It's surely north London or Leicester - who is your money on?


Are you sitting comfortably?
The walkout by Liverpool fans over the price increase to £77 in their main stand next season has really made a statement. Now the local MP is going to raise the subject in Parliament. For the fans to really make a stand though it needs concerted action by all the fans in every club that feel their prices are too high. If the Sky cameras have to see games with mass walkouts all over the country on 77 minutes the chairman of every club would finally get the message and the Premier League in particular would have a huge problem with worldwide audiences seeing fans walkout at every televised game. It is not just Liverpool FC's problem it's happening to you and me as well. I was particularly annoyed at the Premier League chairman's vote not to cap away day prices as £30. They will have more than £5bn coming to them from the start of next year with the new TV deal and there is no plan to discount prices or help the lower leagues. It is a disgrace and tho seat the top are taking advantage of the genuine supporter who has been going to matches for year after year and now faces being priced out of their seat. If there is a concerted action to make a protest, I will be fully behind it and I hope all fans will join in. We have to make our point hit the clubs where it hurts as they do it to us every week. With the rise of the Chinese game now threatening the hold of European clubs on the best playing talent in the world, now is the time for us fans to speak out about the prices we are faced with.


Leicester City lead the way.
Bellissmo Leicester!
I sat down to watch the Man City v Leicester City game on BT Sport on Saturday afternoon having put a few pounds on the Foxes to spring a surprise. But then I thought, would it really be a surprise if Jamie Vardy & Co carried on their fantastic run? A soon as I heard two of Man Cty's back four had been changed I thought it could be Leicester's day. The first few minutes of the game soon reassured me further that I had backed a team that was not going to City as underdogs, but as Premier League leaders. It was a gift to get an early goal and it determined exactly how Leicester would have wanted the game to go, defending deep and winning the ball to give to Mahrez, Albrighton, Okasaki and Vardy.

A lot has been said about Leicester's offensive game but it was the tackling that I felt marks them apart from any other side in the league. They invited Man City onto them but then looked to win a tackle in front of their own box only to break with power and pace. Even in the second half there was no catching the Foxes who started play even more confidently. You have to start believing now that Ranieri's are well in the title race. They are the team to beat and if Arsenal slip up against AFCB today it could be just Spurs that are trying to hold on to the Foxes' tails.


Some daylight created in the table
The Premier League table is something that Eddie Howe does not like looking at but we can take a sneak at it now and again. The Cherries have made a reasonable start to the New Year moving from 20 points before January to 25 now, which is a point better than a point a game. It's not relegation form and AFCB should be pleased if not totally satisfied about that.

We need the team to push on and get those 10 or more wins. But there is quite a scramble taking place in the table with the door to the Championship starting to open on Aston Villa and despite Newcastle and Sunderland only having one less win that AFCB, their points tally is starting to look insufficient unless they can start getting some back to back wins. A point never looks that bad when your rivals lose and in that respect it has been a good weekend for the Cherries as long as Swansea fail to get a result this afternoon.

In mid-table there was some concerns a couple of weeks ago for Southampton and Watford but both of those teams have pushed themselves further towards safety and if one team is going to fall like a stone from mid-table it is not clear yet which one it will be.

From a neutrals' point of view it is a great season with so many unpredictable results. Eddie Howe has said that he feels the battle to stay up will go down to the wire and many of the games now seem to be draw or just decided by the odd goal even if they are crazy encounters like Norwich 4 v 5 Liverpool. It was not hard to work out what game would get early viewing on Match of the Day this weekend.

While there will be arguments about the league being poorer in terms of quality. It has to be one of the best in terms of excitement and entertainment. 

Northeast revival is unwelcome
The sudden improvement in the fortunes of Newcastle and Sunderland has had a dramatic effect on the look of the table in recent week. Both teams now sit just one win away from the Cherries with goal differences that are only two and one goal worse than AFCB. The big move was from Sunderland this week who benefited from Jermaine Defoe's sharpness and his hat-trick at Swansea which may be underlining that the Swnas are in real decline, but it makes the Cherries game at Sunderland look a lot more difficult than would have been managed just a couple of weeks ago. Back on 30 December, Sunderland were sat on 12 points after 19 games and they have added six points since then by beating not only Swansea but also Aston Villa. Allardyce knows that he has to beat the clubs around them and he is a master at it. Beware AFCB!

As for Steve McClaren, I am not sure how his droll tone has encouraged his players to raise their game but he has managed to start getting results. To draw against Man Utd was really a massive point for them this week as they have not had a point since mid-December. I thought they were the team that were most likely to claw themselves out of trouble if any of the bottom three would and my worries have started to grow a tad. Luckily AFCB have to play them, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Swansea and Norwich - oh, yes and Chelsea so everything is still in AFCB's hands!

Out of touch tabloids just don't get AFCB

It is silly season again as the January window is open. The Daily Mirror is back on the case of wanting to reunite £6m Jermaine Defoe with AFCB Bournemouth, even though his wages are astronomical and he plays for a club that is a rival facing a relegation battle. It won't be the last transfer rumour that is well past its sell by date. I believe that Eddie and Neil Blake are seeking to strengthen the front line and do want an experienced striker. The calls for Patrick Bamford from The Daily Mail also seem rather a stab in the dark considering Bamford has hardly played any games at the top level. At least no one can try and put Demarai Gray back in the headlines with Eddie Howe.

While the club might favour a British striker and the likes of Ross McCormack, Charlie Austin or Jordan Rhodes, the prices for such forwards are hugely inflated and there is no reason why AFCB should limit their search in this market which is overly competitive. I expect there will be more reason to look at the MLS with the US funding that is coming into the club and the African nations for up and coming strikers. Even picking up players with talent like Christian Atsu was not a great move for AFCB or the player in the last window and there are no guarantees that a player is going to be a success just because he comes with a large transfer fee.

It would not surprise me if Juan Iturbe was the only signing made in this window as Eddie won't want to upset the balance in the side too much and if he can get one or two players coming back to full fitness, the Cherries will not be too bad off for the second half of the season with their current squad.




Luis has not had his Brussels sprouts just yet 
Do you think that the pressure might just be starting to get to Luis van Gaal at Man Utd? Oh, what a press conference it was at Old Trafford with all naughty school boy press unable to say sorry to Mr van Gaal who was not in the mood to speak to the media. The press pack are sharpening the knives and Luis van Gaal's army are in real trouble. A defeat at Stoke City on Boxing Day could spell the end - but we are not aloud to say that LVG could be sacked! Some how I can't wait for the post-match press conference. There could be more tickets sold for that than for the actual game at the Britannia.

We must not be too hard on Luis though. We know from last year that he does not like playing football at Christmas and he would like a winter break. It may just be that he gets his break though having been humbled by the likes of AFCB and Norwich City. He will be hoping to get some Christmas presents in the way of three points and some goals of course, but the fans at Man Utd may just be appeased with a forward pass or two. I don't know if LVG's outburst of passion will help his team or whether he has signed his own release, but I do know that the Man Utd manager's press conference will have been well received by Sam Allardyce, Ronald Koeman and Steve McClaren as they are the ones that are really under pressure. May be the media will kindly say sorry to Luis by bring him some Christmas presents next time they meet up. Any suggestions of what they might give him? Some better headlines perhaps? I think those only come with results Mr van Gaal.

Is the title heading to the Emirates?
It is probably to early to make that call but Arsenal took a huge step towards damaging one of their rivals for the Premier League's top honours by exposing Man City defence and cutting right through it. By half time last night I was already sure that Man City had no chance of coming back as Arsenal were going to tear the sky blues apart if they didn't tighten up. I should have known that Yaya Toure would have a trick up his sleeve - still it wasn't enough.

Arsenal now move closer to Leicester City who still sit proudly on top of the table. The Foxes are very much contenders. Their problem may come when they really see that they have a shot at being top dock. Of Course, Arsenal as well are good when they are chasing someone and if they do hit top spot in January or February they will feel the pressure of expectation building on them. For Man City though the defeat against Arsenal is a sign of how they are playing at the moment. Without Vincent Kompany they are leaking goals and will find it hard to get back in the race for me.

AFCB have a big part to play in things at the top of the table in the next few days and we should get to see first hand how both Arsenal and then Leicester City are currently playing and just perhaps the Cherries can knock someone off their stride.

The wind of change is blowing through the Premier League
If you were unsure about Leicester City's title credentials you only had to see how they dismantled Chelsea to see that they are a real contender for major honours this season. But I don't just think that Chelsea are the only ones who will be caught out by the topsy-turvey Premier League as the unpredictable results keep coming for the likes of Man Utd, Liverpool and Man City. These teams have not come across teams with the kind of work rate that Leicester, Bournemouth and Watford for example are putting into games. It seems alien to some of the top players that they are not having as much time on the ball as they usually have and the pace in many of the teams that are doing well has caused more problems in defences than we have seen in past seasons. It's all about scoring goals. In the past a good solid defence has been the way to play, but that has been blown out of the water.

Leicester have scored 32 goals but they have conceded 22. Teams such as Liverpool and Everton have let in 19 and 21 goals, respectively. Defending does not seem to be a priority and the all out attack of the Premier League makes teams like Man Utd look pedestrian, even if they have only let in a miserly 12 goals.


Munk is sunk and perhaps Swansea are too now
I was not totally surprised that Gary Monk had been relieved of his managerial position at Swansea City but I kind of expected Swansea to look at the long term ethos of their club rather than panic over a poor run in the Premier League. Okay, Gary has seen one win in 11 games. It is a poor run. But what about the situation he leaves now with the first team and development squads now wondering if they will have a new direction and a different message coming from the top? It is clear that the owners are fearful of the progress of teams like AFCB, Sunderland and Newcastle who have closed the gap on the Swans and yet there is still over half the season to go yet. A quick fix of a new manager has given Sunderland a bit of a spark, but there is not a lot happening at Aston Villa and it is a risk for Swansea. It all depends on their candidate to replace Monk, but I think it is a huge risk at this stage when they have two very winnable home games against West Ham and WBA after an away visit to the Etihad. It appears that Swansea did not want to support Gary Monk in the January transfer window.


Swansea have been well beaten by teams like Arsenal, Leicester and Southampton but they have been only losing by the odd goal in most games and their luck would surely change under Monk who knows the players and their strengths. Now I am somewhat hopeful that the Cherries can finish above Swansea as unless they get an immediate pick up in form, the loss of such a major man at the club who has been there for many years is going to weigh heavily on them if they now continue to lose games. There are not many good English managers around and Swansea have just cast one aside - even if with a heavy heart. I know some Swansea supporters wanted a change but I believe this decision was taken too early in the season and could well backfire on them. Be it Gus Poyet, David Moyes or Mark Warburton they have a big job to keep Swansea up with the January window looming.


Watford should be getting more headlines
I have been very impressed by the way Watford under Quique Sanchez Florez have gone about their Premier League Season. They have set their standards very high and the wins keep coming for them. It was questionable whether they had enough in attack when they looked over reliant on Odion Ighalo but with Troy Deeney now also adding goals they are a much better proposition going forward and they are no respecters of the elite in the division.

Watford are real street fighters and it's something that I believe AFCB are only just starting to add to their game. While the Hornets aren't a big physical side they hustle and hound teams into mistakes and it seems to be working for them. Defensively too they have improved since the Championship and have only conceded 16 goals. They have not been thrashed by anyone and have become a very hard team to beat. Whether they will hit a poor spell or not, they have a lead on the Cherries of nine points already and appear well set for retaining their Premier League status.



Are AFCB so dissimilar to Leicester who sit on top of the league?
The points would seem to suggest that Leicester City and AFCB are miles apart in terms of quality and ability. I actually find it strange to see the very different fortunes of AFCB and Leicester City, when you consider how the two teams try and play the game. Yes, Leicester are a counter-attacking team that don't rely on a high amount of possession to win games, but AFCB also like to use pace when they can in the last third. 

Overall though, it's fair to say that the Cherries have a more patient style and build up. Leicester of course have the standout Jamie Vardy to not only tuck away chances in the six yard box, but also to turn on the afterburners and run from the half way line, before slamming the ball in the net. His hunger is clear to see and perhaps Josh King will start playing with a similar hunger now for us. Leicester also like to play with width and have good crossers of the ball in Mahrez and also Schlupp, who I thought was one of their best players when they played the Cherries in August.

Rather than be surprised with what Leicester have been able to do, I'd like to see AFCB's players think that they can also get results too in this league. The extra season that Leicester has had have certainly helped the Foxes get away to a fast start, but there are other clubs that have far more financial clout and more expensive players in the Premier League. You can say that Leicester are over achieving under Ranieri, but I'd say that they are just sticking to their game plan. I don't believe Eddie Howe is far away from finding the right game plan for AFCB now, and when it does click as it neally did against Newcastle and Swansea you can start to see that the Cherries can start climbing up this league.

Well done to Leicester City by the way. Fantastic stuff!


Chelsea- Not fit for purpose
The Jose Mourihno saga goes on. How much longer he can keep Roman Abramovich on side with the kind of antics he now shows after every game is very hard to tell. Jose simply does not know how to cope with losing and when you start having very public meetings with your staff on the pitch after another home defeat, I'm not sure if it is designed to show everyone that he is trying and still in control or if he just wants to try and blame everyone else. The players and the managers are not at one at Stamford Bridge, and it is clear that the dressing room has been lost. Whether Jose can get his players back is the question that Roman is going to have to work out.  You can't have a manager offering no comment though after a game, and while things are not going well for Chelsea the pressure is just going to keep mounting on Jose. 

Danny Murphy said on TalkSport though that if any manager deserves a period to try and turn things around it is Jose after what he has done for Chelsea. The only way I can see them going forward is if they all get together and talk, rather than continue as things are at the moment. There have been some major mistakes made at Stamford Bridge but most of it has been of their own making. All eyes will now be on the Dynamo Kiev Champions League game in midweek. Will the real Jose and the real Chelsea turn up?

They will have their pizza
Leicester City finally got that clean sheet that will have cost Claudio Ranieri a trip to pizzaland - a 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace. But the Italian will not be disappointed that his team continue to defy the pundit's predictions and simply keep winning with Mr Vardy starting to write some records of his own with seven goals in seven matches. Jamie Vardy has been sensational for the Foxes and I imagine the odds are starting to shorten on him to be top Premier League goalscorer this season. The clever point about Leicester though is that even though teams know they play with pace and tremendous spirit, there have not been many teams that have found a solution to stop them play. If anything AFCB came closer than most when they had a 1-0 lead up until the last six minutes of the recent home draw with the Foxes. Yet, look at where Leicester are in the table. The Cherries need to look at that and know that they can play as well as the best teams in the Premier League, and their swift passing game is not so dissimilar to that of Leicester's. It is working for Leicester in their second season in a row at this level, and somehow AFCB have to find a way of gaining more points so that they can also have their slice of pizza from the Premier League come May next year.


It's been a catch up week for me
I've been out of the country in Turkey for the last few days so you have probably been seeing that some of my posts have been at slightly odd times. I've felt slightly out of touch with the amount of happenings affecting the Premier League and the football world in general, but I have been enjoying speaking to fans of Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas who are equally pleased to hear me speak about the Cherries' form in the Premier League. A week is a long time in football though. I've seen FIFA back in the news with Mr Blatter's fall from grace, the Republic of Ireland's fantastic win over Germany and Matt Ritchie's stunner against Poland. Yet, there are also some matters that will surely affect Eddie Howe's thinking ahead of some of his side's next few games like Sergio Aguero and David Silva now missing the clash with the Cherries, Jurgen Klopp's arrival at Anfield and the impact that Sam Allardyce is likely to have at Sunderland who are chasing AFCB in the table.

Nothing ever stands still in this football world and I'm looking forward to AFCB coming back from the international break with a point to prove against some of the bigger names in English football. AFCB need at least one win from the matches against Man City, Spurs and the Saints to keep the momentum going and anything more would certainly help them climb a few places. October is probably going to be the month when we really see where the Cherries are in terms of their fight to stay up as more than 10 games will have passed and gaining places in the table is going to become more difficult as the points get stretched. Now more than ever it is the injury news that is most important to hear and it's clear that the Cherries need to get as many of the players back in contention as soon as they can now and we need to start hearing better things about Arter, Rantie and Atsu on the injury front as they must all feel they can play a part in the campaign soon now if they can step up their recovery.



Two managers out already
All the signals were there after the Saturday draw for Sunderland with West Ham. The familiar depressed trudge home for Sunderland fans was only made worse by the knowledge that they had been 2-0 up in their game and yet still were lucky enough to come away from the Stadium of Light with a point. Dick Advocaat was almost at peace in his interview with the media. He had clearly made his decision on his future and he seemed less burdened and yet somehow equivocal in his answers about his own future. Now we know he had made the decision to go and it leaves the Black Cats just off the bottom of the table on goal difference and no wins from eight games. The question is who would want to even attempt to pick this team up after its history of failed managers in the last 10 years? A poisoned chalice it might be, but the players have to take some responsibility for where Sunderland are in the table. It is kind of ironic that as Advocaat gets the best performance from this Sunderland team he now feels it's time to leave. Would his decision had been different had the score remained 2-0 or 2-1? To be honest I think it was only a matter of time before he went back to his wife and his appointment was probably a mistake if he had said in the summer that he did not intend to lead the club in 2015-16. Now the club is in a worse position than it was last summer. New players not integrated into the team. No manager and only three points on the board.

If that was not a surprise the timing of Brendan Rodgers sacking after the Merseyside derby had to be a pre-made decision. Liverpool must already have their man lined up to come in and Ancelotti and Klopp are the favourites to takeover, but with eight games gone they'll have a short period during the international break to get Liverpool players to play in a way that they want. At least Liverpool are in a good league position only six points off the top but that might now be under pressure if the new man fails to pick the team up quickly. Rodgers won no cup in three years but while everyone says he spent the cash his net spend was £14m this summer - hardly a big four team spend. With Suarez and Stirling sold, the end of Gerrard's Liverpool days and no Sturridge for most of last season and some of this it has hardly been easy for Rodgers - whatever happened to "You'll never walk alone"?

So the first and second managerial casualties has come on the same day and the papers will soon be after the next one - are we sitting comfortably Steve McClaren and Jose Mourinho?



Did anyone see Man City result coming?
Several clubs are licking their wounds after a bit of a goal feast of a weekend in the Premier League. The scale of the Man City defeat at Spurs was certainly unexpected and Chelsea just about saved their blushes at Newcastle Utd. I'm still not sure why the league is so unpredictable this season, but it's certainly enjoyable. While AFCB has slipped down to 16th place there is only a small gap to the top 10 and with two home matches coming up next there is every reason to think that the Cherries can regain some ground on some of those above them now. The match against Watford is one of those games that supporters would have looked at as soon as the fixture list came out as being an important game to win but there is a slight added incentive of climbing above them in the table if the Cherries can get a win.


Can the shock results keep coming?
There is often a normality that seems to come to the Premier League and after 10 games we might see that situation. This week though we saw Man City lose their home record and Watford and Bournemouth get wins over established sides from the northeast, while Norwich had a very respectable draw at Anfield, so is it possible for the shocks to keep coming? I don't see why the newly promoted teams can't challenge bigger teams if they can play to their strengths and that is what they seem to be able to do. It is a bit harder when taking on the top four, but West Ham's result gives some encouragement in that respect. I think that in weekends following Champions League weeks there is a good chance that the smaller teams can enjoy success against the biggest supported teams. It is not just the physical side of playing an extra game in the week that is a problem for the Man Utd's, Man City's, Chelsea's and Arsenal's, but the mental barrier of coming back down to more routine games for them. every game is a cup final for Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich and as they have been getting a good deal of success so far it's just possible that this could be a turning point in the Premier League when normality doesn't exist anymore.


Now is the time to get a lead on the slow starters
There is no better time than the present to go and get points. The next game is always the game that you want to see your team pick up points and the sooner you leave the stragglers behind the better. AFCB have their problems with major injuries, but they have to put those behind them as the 25-man squad has now been submitted. It is not looking overly great for some of the teams who currently sit below the Cherries anyway. Tony Pulis has his hands full with the Berahino non-transfer with Spurs. Steve McClaren already has tongues wagging in Newcastle despite getting a draw with Man Utd and Sunderland sit at the foot of the table without a win. It's a question of how you react to your problems that will see the stronger teams come through these difficult periods and a taking some positives as well as points out of games is what Eddie Howe will be looking for in the next few matches. AFCB have already proved that they can compete, now they need to shake off the underdog tag and play the expansive football that starts to put teams on the back foot. Staying positive and making things happen rather than waiting for them to occur is going to need plenty of work on the training ground and a togetherness within the team. Already I sense that AFCB fans are looking forward to games and watching the Cherries cause problems for defences in other teams and the fact that Eddie Howe has everyone thinking like that is already taking pressure off of AFCB's defenders. 


Good luck to the big spenders
The last week of the transfer window is upon us and while Eddie Howe has already wished good luck to those that are able to spend big he is clear that AFCB will only spend within its means. That is of course going to make it hard to compete with those who can afford players above what the Cherries have already spent on their record signing, but if the first three games of the season have taught us anything as AFCB fans it is that there is not a lot between the teams in the Premier League in terms of competitiveness at this early stage. Only Man City have a faultless, unbeaten record and every team has already picked up at least one point from their three games.

This week will be a question of who blinks first amongst the big weights. Are Man Utd sure that Rooney will score the goals they need to get them a top four finish? Do Arsenal need to spend £50 million on Karim Benzema? Will Chelsea top a £35 million offer for John Stone? Are Tottenham about to make a substantial bid for WBA's Saido Berahino? Such matters might seem of little consequence for AFC Bournemouth but once such money is sloshing around among clubs who feel they have to sell their players, the Everton's, WBA's and Southampton's might well turn their attention to the Cherries and with days running out before the window shuts it may be hard enough just to ensure that no player leaves AFCB who Howe wants to keep unless he has ready-made replacements in mind.



Joey is better off in the stands
It was good to know that Joey Barton picked out AFCB v Aston Villa to park himself at on Saturday afternoon. While he was not an admirer of the beautiful game as played by Eddie Howe's and Tim Sherwood's teams, he wasn't shy enough to keep quiet about it. I imagine his views were made public to herald his move that now looks likely to be West Ham on a free transfer. Yes, Joey you'll be back in the Premier League and AFCB will be looking forward to you running out on the pitch rather than sitting on the side at Dean Court if, of course, he can make the Hammer's team on that day. But we might even see him before then at the Boleyn ground where the Hammers are due to take on the Cherries on 22nd August. Perhaps Joey had not looked at West Ham's fixture list before he mentioned that he was the best player in the ground on Saturday and not even on the pitch! Eddie now has an easy team talk if Barton plays in that game.While it is great to see that he has confidence in his own ability, Joey might do well to remember that this is a team game and that unless you are a superstar and regularly win games with outstanding goals on your own, it's more than likely that the best team wins the day. Last season he was part of a team that was relegated from the Premier League, so what makes him such a good buy? I suppose I'd better ask Slaven Bilic, because I'd rather see some young players eager to make their debut in the Premier League like Reece Oxford, rather than players that have disappointed in the past, despite the high potential they once had. Good luck Joey.

As an end note it appears that having had a medical and trained  at West Ham Joey has now been told that he is not a suitable signing and won't be joining the London club. Oh, well 19 other Premier League teams to try for Joey.


BBC 5 Live get chatty at Dean Court 
BBC Radio 5 Live made themselves at home at Dean Court tonight with several rather well known guests. Clem and Mark Pougatch were asking the questions about who was going to do well in the Premier league and who was going to struggle. Steve Claridge was keen to talk about the newly promoted clubs and how open they were last season. Harry Redknapp was backing the Cherries to turn up the volume at Dean Court and Tony Pulis was clearly trying to sit comfortably with his WBA hat on.
Mark Pougatch of BBC 5 Live with Harry Redknapp, 
Tony Pulis and Steve Claridge. Pictures by Damien Hill.
Harry Redknapp predicted that all three promoted clubs could stay up. But the Hornets are the most likely perhaps to have a managerial change again. Harry said "Bournemouth are the most solid team that has come up." Steve Claridge agreed: "There's huge trust here between the manager and the chairman and owner."
Clem asks who will win the Premier League? Far too many Arsenal fans in tonight!
Harry then was asked about west ham and said that Slaven Bilic has a hard task ahead of him this season. Of course he wishes him well but thought that the Europa League would be a hindrance for them. He was more keen on Liverpool doing well with Benteke there. Tony Pulis said "They'll be better this season as well."

Steve Claridge

Harry Arter is among the audience.
Arsenal have made a great signing with Petr Cech. "Chelsea can play badly and win games, same with Man City, but Arsenal play bad they get beat," said Tony Pulis.

Steve Claridge said "with one player out of position it can cause you problems," that was his worry with Arsenal.

As for AFC Bournemouth who would be the stand out player? "The team," said Tony Pulis.

Harry said "Wilson will score goals - he'll score over 15 this season."

Steve Claridge said "There's a fair chance he'll do that. I'm a Portsmouth man though so I have to pick Matt Ritchie. The two wide boys are fantastic and the way they play with the two full back that overlap. It will be interesting to see how often they do that and if they can dominate games as much this season... I think we're all made up that they are there."


You can listen back to the broadcast here for a few days on the BBC (starts after about 7 mins)


A bit of home TV viewing of the Cherries
The new TV broadcasting schedules of matches for October and November will see the Cherries have to shift a few more of their games to keep SKY and BT viewers sitting comfortably in their chairs. The news is fairly favourable in this round of selected games though for the AFCB fans. Southampton away was always going to be of interest to a wider viewing audience and by moving it to Sunday 1 Nov at 4pm (SKYSports) is not too much inconvenience. The same can be said for Spurs visit to the Vitality stadium on Sunday  25 Oct at 4pm, although that game has moved only because of Spur's Europa League obligations and is not scheduled to be on TV. Sadly for Newcastle fans though, BTSports has given them a horrible time of a 12.45pm kick off for their trip to the south coast on 7 Nov!

Along with the Villa home match that is to be aired on Satanta and the Liverpool evening away match on 17 August, AFCB now have four live TV matches before December. That is probably not enough to get fans rushing to take out new TV subscriptions though and most will probably find it cheaper to watch down their local pub than to add new monthly subscriptions to their TV viewing unless they are keen on following other teams in the Premier League as well.

I suspect that by the end of November the TV companies may have to re-evaluate how often they put the Cherries on the box as Eddie Howe's teams play with such a polished, attacking style that customers are likely to be short changed by only getting the opportunity to see them on live TV once a month at the most. At least that gives season ticket holders a bit more belief that they have the value for money option at seeing the team from their usual seat for every home match and if you throw in one or two away games that would probably

Revised matches and times
Liverpool v AFCB - 17 Aug 8pm
AFCB v Spurs - 25 Oct 4pm
Southampton v AFCB - 1 Nov 2.05pm 
AFCB v Newcastle - 7 Nov 12.45pm

Managers picking fights
If we thought that the Championship could be a bit strange for its managers arguing about the quality of referees most week, I suppose we are going to see the TV pundits pick out even more errors in the Premier League. But what do you think about managers having spats with other managers? It is not so common in the lower leagues, but there are one or two managers that come to mind who have hit the headlines in the last few days for  a few word handbags gong to and fro between them.

Chief among them has to be Chelsea's Jose. He just loves a word scrap with rival managers and while he has probably enjoyed his calculator jibes with Arsene at Arsenal he soon turned his attention to Benetez at Real Madrid (there's history there all right - did that Liverpool Champions League goal really go over the line Jose?), which will be great when the two managers come head-to-head again hopefully in the Champions League. It spices things up and the managers of the big teams don't seem to know how to exist unless they are saying a few words to their rivals to stir up tensions and supposedly get the upperhand. 

These games are mental ones that probably entertain many but don't do a lot for the game. But do you think Eddie Howe would be keen to become a sparring partner in one of these battles? I doubt it very much. We are told to have respect and to bring that to the game and yet the use of sniping between managers seems to be a sport all to itself. Our Eddie hasn't experienced such a contest to my knowledge, but just imagine that AFCB start winning rather too many games for some other managers liking. It will be interesting to see what other managers decide to say about the Cherries - they can't accuse us of having a big bank account, that's for sure. No history? Perhaps - but if the Cherries keep winning, AFCB's history will be be making their own history this coming season. We'll do the talking on the pitch Jose, it's more entertaining that way.


Are Villa in turmoil?
The news that Liverpool had decided to meet Villa's valuation of Christian Benteke was bad enough news for Villa fans on Friday, but then the floor opened up and Villa Park was in danger of becoming a desert as the self-professed loyal captain Fabian Delph did a U-turn with a move to Man City proclaimed by the press to be back on for the England midfielder. What can Villa fans be thinking? What can Tim Sherwood be thinking? What on earth has Fabian Delph been thinking? We know this game revolves around money and in the case of some players they really need to think twice before kissing the badge and pledging their sole to the club they are playing for. How can a player turnaround in under a week of announcing his pride in staying at Villa and looking forward to the new season, only to start negotiations again with the very club that he turned down a few days ago? If  Delph was unsettled at Villa and a different club had come in with a fabulous offer, I might have felt a bit of sympathy for him, but this summer there must be something in the water that has turned the heads of players who believe that they owe nothing to the fans or the club that they are contracted to as long as they can profit from a lucrative transfer.

TalkSport have questioned whether Bernteke's imminent departure from the Villa triggered Fabian's sudden change of mind. Without the striker at Villa Park perhaps Delph felt that Man City's bench was not such a bad place to be. It should be entertaining when Villa play Man City next season. Of course this is not bad news for AFCB who are due to play Aston Villa in their first game of the season in a few weeks time. I have my fingers crossed that Tim Sherwood is not an admirer of Callum Wilson or Matt Ritchie and that the funds that he will get from player sales encourage him to go for more experienced players. Once big money moves start floating about in the Premier League it has a habit of triggering off many other moves, and I get the feeling that this transfer window has a long way to go yet. It might not just be Aston Villa fans that are pulling their hair out come the start of the new season!


It's a big world for Premier league clubs
While AFCB relish their new stadium sponsorship deal my eye caught a story on the BBC about Tottenham's new stadium which has not been built yet. It suggested that the new stadium is being lined up to host two NFL games a season after it is opened in 2018. It will be a 61,000 seater stadium which shows you how far AFCB have to go to get towards the bigger teams of the Premier League. Location though is probably going to be very important in the next 10 years with how Premier League teams grow and being in the capital is obviously a big advantage for many clubs that can pull in sponsors from all over the world. If AFCB

Liverpool will have a bit of Bournemouth in their ranks
The news that Sean O'Driscoll had agreed to join Brendan Rogers at Anfield as assistant coach was probably more of a blow to England's FA than they know. England's football teams need coaches like O'Driscoll who are keen to develop players that are comfortable on the ball and their loss is certainly Liverpool's gain.

With Brendan Rogers under pressure to get off to a good start it will be a great day when AFCB go to play his team at Anfield after the recent meetings that have both been at Dean Court. Now that Sean O'Driscoll is also there it adds a lot more interest to the fixture and I would live to be a fly on the wall when the two groups of management meet up in the boardroom to discuss a bit of football after the game.With Danny Ings already at Liverpool it should be quite a clash when the Cherries go there on 15 August.

I imagine the lack of club football probably got to Sean in the end and who could refuse a chance to work with a club that has such a historic past? As Sean was such a great player and manager for AFCB I wish him all the best except when he comes up against the Cherries.


Eder headed to Swans, but what of Michu?
There were many links to the Cherries having an interest in Portuguese striker Eder who plays for Braga, but yesterday SkySports was anticipate that he is set to sign for Swansea City with a £5 million fee being agreed between the clubs. At 27, Eder is perfect for the Premier league and it looks to be an astute signing by Gary Monk when considering the market rate for forwards. I believe Michu who spent last season on loan at Napoli is still in discussions at Swansea, but if he can't agree new terms then he would be a striker that could do a fabulous job for a premier league team and I'd certainly welcome him to the south coast. Michu has a year left on his current contract, but perhaps with the move for Eder they might allow Michu to go

Micah Richards back in favour
Aston Villa will be the first test for AFCB come the 8th August and last week they made a very strong statement in the kind of player that Tim Sherwood is looking for to take the team forward. Micah Richards has been somewhat of an outcast at Man City and left to play his football last season at Fiorentina. The Italian-based Richards though helped secure the Serie A side fourth place, but only made 10 appearances. Micah is the type of player who can be a rampaging, powerful left back and often does his best work going forward. Sherwood has been adamant that his team needs to play more on the front foot and this signing will help Villa do that. Whether he has the same appetite for the game that saw him win 13 England caps is perhaps questionable, but the new Villa should have more about them than last season.

There are not many players that have their own website but Micah chooses this method to stay in touch with his followers. Make sure you check out what Micah has to say ahead of the AFC Bournemouth game.

Danny Ings is Anfield bound but is it a good move?
News broke yesterday that Danny Ings has signed a deal to leave Burnley and to join Liverpool. The ex-Cherries' move will be dependent on the two clubs agree a fee for the 22-year-old and a tribunal will be held to arrange a fee if the two clubs cannot agree terms. The extra bit of good news is that AFCB will be the recipients of a part fee as well having developed Danny for several years at Dean Court before he was signed by Burnley for £1 million - AFCB's first £1m player. The question I now ask is Danny right for Liverpool? The move would mean him partnering Daniel Sturridge which would be a pretty pacey attack, although Liverpool fans may wonder why they are no longer signing the players of Luis Suarez's pedigree. The Merseysiders probably need to boost their numbers of British-born players though and Danny might not be the only UK player they sign up this summer having lost Steven Gerrard.

I imagine that Brendan Rdogers is under unprecedented pressure to make his signings come good this time and now Danny Ings becomes one of those players that will have to make an impact for him. At the end of last season Danny tailed off a bit and ran out of goals having started the season so well. He ended up with 11 goals in a relegated side, but that seems to have been good enough for Rodgers. The service he gets at Liverpool should be much higher than what he had at Burnley, as long as he gets off the subs bench, but I hope Danny can discipline himself more and not waste quite so much energy dashing around everywhere, as he used to when in Red and Black colours. He will have the prospect of lining up against AFCB in the new season and that would be a massive game for him you would think. He did play two seasons ago against AFCB when he scored at Turf Moor but not at Dean Court, but having now made it to Liverpool he really is at a huge club and I only wish him well having followed in the footsteps of Adam Lallana, Jamie Redknapp and Nigel Spackman with a Merseyside calling. AFCB will happily take some of the money that Liverpool have to pay out for him as well, even if he is out of contract.

Have Black Cats reasons to be happy?
The U-turn by tear heavy Dick Advocaat who has decided not to leave Sunderland but to sign a year's contract to carry on managing the team underlines how easy it is to get hooked on this game of football. The fans at Sunderland clearly feel that they have reason to be happy for Dick's change of mind and even more grateful to Mrs Advocaat who was to receive a £150 bunch of flowers from fans only the fund topped £2000 - you can buy a petal or two with that! The winners will be the SAFC Foundation and a charity of Mrs Advocaat's choice, but will the Black Cats be smiling if results are hard to come by at the start of next season? I would be more confident them if they can get more out of former AFCB striker Jermaine Dofoe. Jermaine was only signed on from Toronto FC in January and scored four goals in his 14 appearances. He is on a three-and-a-half year transfer exchange with Jozy Altidore and while Jermaine started well and scored in the Toon derby to give Dick Advocaat his first win, the prospects for the Black Cats need Jermaine to be on top form in 2015-16 to avoid being around the relegation zone. Rather than chanting Mrs Advocaat's name from the terraces, I think making Mr Dofoe feel very much at home should now be the BlackCat's priority.

Will Copa America uncover any new stars?
The Copa America tournament will run from 11 June to 4 July and will be held in Chile. It could be the tournament that finally sees the emergence of some new talent and perhaps we will see further progress from teams like Chile and Colombia that did so well in last year's World Cup. Finding players that are not already linked or at top clubs though is getting harder by the time they reach competitions like this. Colombia already has several players in the Premier league - David Ospina (Arsenal), Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa),  Juan Cuadrado (Chelsea); Mexico has a much more domestic looking squad which could produce some surprises; Ecuador have Juan Carlos Paredes (Watford), Antonio Valencia (Man Utd), Enner Valencia (West Ham) and Jefferson Montero (Swansea); Jamaica will have Wes Morgan (Leicester) and Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace) lining up for them and a host of MLS players including Giles Barnes (formerly of Derby Co); Venezuela have Fernando Amorebeita (Middlesbrough); Uruguay feature Sebastian Coates (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City); Argentina will have Angel di Maria (Man Utd), Erik Lamela (Spurs) and Sergi Aguero, Pablo Zabeleta and Martin Demichelis all (Man City), while Brazil will have Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Fernandinho (Man City), Filipe Luis (Chelsea) and Willian (Chelsea).

It may be the likes of Paraguay, Bolivia and Venezuela where scouts will have to look to find some special talent that has not already been seen.



Have Watford handicapped themselves before they even kick a ball?
I know that Watford are the club that are quite used to changing manager and still getting results, but it can't be the best idea to bring in yet another manager after having had a season when they have managed to overcome the odds and get promoted despite changing managers four times. Financial rewards can turn people's heads when they know what is coming into a club and whether you consider Slavisa Jokanovic greedy or not it is surprising that both sides did not want to come to an agreement enough to keep the partnership together. Managers are perhaps '10 a penny' and Quique Sanchez Flores may be the perfect fit that brings Watford even greater success if he is to be the new manager at Vicarage Road. Still, changing manager is a risk that the Hornets seem destined to take as they seek their fifth manager in the 12 months.
The Hornets are not hanging about in signing players either with their first summer signing confirmed as Austrian international centre back Sebastian Prodl from Werder Bremen on a five-year deal. It comforts me that when Josh King signed for Bournemouth he knew exactly who the manager was and how the club was going to be set up for next season. I wonder if Sebastian Podl can say the same at Watford?  


The job at AFCB is big enough for Howe at the moment. I wouldn't money
on him being anywhere but at Dean Court come 8 August 2015.
Howe's rating continues to climb for Hammers
While West Ham might feel they have to find an upward and progressive manager for the west Ham way (whatever that is), it is amusing to me that they still hold out hopes of plundering clubs like AFC Bournemouth for their manager's services. We are told by the Hammer's blog Claret and Hugh that SkyBet has made Eddie second favourite for the vacant managerial position at the Boleyn Ground. While this is very flattering the bookies seem to neglect the fact that Howe has already started to build his perfect squad for the Premier League next season and it is being assembled at Dean Court, where the excitement of Bournemouth's first season in the top flight has bound Eddie Howe even deeper in the fortunes of this south coast club. In a couple of year's time I could see this as being a promising move for Howe but the challenge to do well with the Cherries in the Premier League is much more enticing at present for this English coach, and having been bitten before with a move to Burnley it will take something very special to part Eddie Howe from his beloved Cherries now.

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