Plucky Bournemouth Are In Deep Trouble

Before this weekend’s fixtures, it seemed bizarre that Bournemouth weren’t in the bottom three. The Championship title winners had suffered heavy defeats against Manchester City and Tottenham and defeats against local rivals Southampton and fellow promoted side Norwich but yet were merely a point above Newcastle in 18th. Their luck was that somehow three teams had worse records than them, but their good fortune has run out after a 1-0 loss against Newcastle. While Bournemouth arguably should have earned at least a point against Newcastle, they are slowly drifting to the bottom of the league.

It can be hyperbolic to suggest in November that Bournemouth are in relegation trouble but as things stand, they are. The bottom three of Newcastle, Aston Villa and Sunderland was never going to remain the same and key personnel changes will give struggling teams a boost.

Aston Villa have wisely appointed Remi Grade as manager, Sunderland have hired Premier League veteran Sam Allardyce as this season’s rescuer and Steve McClaren could still turn it around at St James’ Park. When you have two clubs riding the good waves of a new manager, Bournemouth are in serious trouble and could be potentially left behind.

Watching their game against Newcastle (and second half against Southampton), you can immediately see the spirit, the confidence in attacking, creativity and dominance that got the coastal club promoted. All that was missing from their onslaught was a goal with Joshua King, Harry Arter and Dan Gosling all going close, but no equaliser or winner. Even with Premier League veteran Sylvain Distin in their defence, Bournemouth came undone by Newcastle’s only chance — Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez exposed the Cherries’ inexperience and Adam Federici yet again failed to save a moderately simple shot.

Their style of play is admirable, but their pressing and hard work won’t always provide the results they need and desperately require a replacement for Callum Wilson. Distin recently discussed match experience in an article, explaining that the lessons of his player career can’t be passed onto others, hinting that Bournemouth’s squad lack the necessary experience to match the standard of the Premier League. Spirited performances will gain sympathy and respect but not always yield points; we learned that from Burnley’s relegation last season.

Granted, Bournemouth have key players Callum Wilson, Max Gradel, Artur Boruc and Tommy Elphick injured but must prove to themselves and neutral fans that they can go away to teams and get results. Now is not the time to feel sorry for themselves or be comforted by TV pundits’ praise but instead confront reality.

Bournemouth require experienced players, disciplined defensive training, better finishing and creativity to survive another year in the Premier League, otherwise they will be yet another one-time Premier League club and spend the next few seasons struggling to bounce back in the Championship. Their saving grace is how Eddie Howe has created a strong unity and togetherness in the squad, meaning any changes, personnel additions and altered training sessions will be easier to implement than in a club in disarray and panic.

With an international break giving Eddie Howe and his squad time to ponder about past results and the rest of the season, it’s time that Howe and his coaching staff discover an alternative plan to stop dropping points. Sunderland, Aston Villa and Newcastle aren’t always going to be terrible as they all currently are and Bournemouth need to start regularly earning points to prevent being adrift of survival.

Howe must use the January transfer window to buy Premier League quality players to replace Callum Wilson’s goal threat, Max Gradel’s creativity and a strong centre-back to play alongside Elphick in order to remain in games and stop conceding avoidable goals. Otherwise, it is extremely unlikely that they will be able to turn it around.