Bournemouth will always remember the 2019/20 season as the one in which their five-year stay in the top-flight came to an end.
The Cherries threw everything they had at Premier League survival during a mini-resurgence over the final five games. The last of those games was a 3-1 victory over Everton at Goodison Park. However, results elsewhere condemned Eddie Howe’s side to the drop as they finished in 18th place.
The manager has since decided to depart the Vitality Stadium and leave the promotion challenge of next season to somebody else. Howe still leaves with his club hero status intact as Last Word on Football looks back upon the season which ended his Bournemouth journey – for now – on an ultimately sad note.
Assessing Bournemouth’s Season
Early Promise for Bournemouth
Before the endlessly dark days of relegation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the season got off to a bright start for the South Coast outfit.
It seems a long time ago now, but in the first half of the campaign, Eddie Howe’s side enjoyed a string of impressive results. Among them were victories over Everton and Manchester United at home, plus an away triumph at Chelsea in December.
These were the kind of results that had the fans dreaming of a sixth successive season in the top-flight.
Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got for Bournemouth, who became embroiled in a relegation scrap from which they would not escape.
Season Unravels for Eddie Howe
That victory at Stamford Bridge relieved a lot of the pressure that had been building on Eddie Howe’s shoulders.
But, as was a recurring theme throughout their season, Bournemouth were unable to build on a good result, and subsequently went six games without a win in the league. It was the same story after those wins over Everton, which was followed by one win in five games, and Manchester United, a game followed by five consecutive losses.
In fact, the Cherries’ inability to build on rare league victories was so damaging for them that they ended the season with 22 losses from their 38 games.
Indeed, after a home thrashing by Newcastle United on 1 July, the Cherries had only taken one point from a possible 21. Although they nearly pulled themselves together from that defeat onwards, the trap door that was opened beneath their feet by such poor form that proved inescapable.
A lot of their defeats were the result of defensive deficiencies that had passed unaddressed even before a ball was kicked this season. Last campaign, Bournemouth conceded 70 league goals on their way to a 14th placed finish. Their ability to score at the other end bailed them out then, but when the goals stopped flowing for them this season. Ultimately, their 65 goals conceded sucked them down from the top-flight.
Bournemouth Transfer failings
Failure in the transfer market is usually a recipe for disaster for any Premier League side, and Bournemouth were no exception.
As an example, paying Liverpool a combined £34 million for Dominic Solanke and Jordan Ibe does not look like good business now.
The £19 million Solanke only managed three league goals in 32 appearances. That means his tally for league goals is still higher than Ibe’s tally for league starts. The winger only appeared from the outset twice all season.
The likes of Callum Wilson, Joshua King and David Brooks – who the club missed dearly during his extended spell on the sidelines with injury – do represent good signings Howe made for the club. It is extremely unlikely that they will stay put this summer. Instead, they will surely look to follow Nathan Ake out the door, with the Dutch defender on the verge of completing a £41 million transfer to Manchester City.
Game of the Season – Bournemouth 1-0 Manchester United
The Cherries did serve up some terrific matches throughout their final season in the top flight before relegation.
Candidates must include their Aaron Ramsdale-inspired win and clean sheet at Stamford Bridge in December, plus their second half comeback to blow Champions League-chasing Leicester City apart as recently as July.
But defeating United in front of their raucous following at the Vitality Stadium on 2 November wins the award.
Player of the Season – Aaron Ramsdale
It is perhaps difficult to come up with a list of bright performers in a season that will go down as a collective failure for the club.
But goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has certainly enjoyed an excellent – and busy – breakthrough season for Bournemouth.
The 21-year-old made a superb 132 saves over the course of the campaign. His tally is only bettered by Martin Dubravka of Newcastle United. The future is certainly bright for the young English shot-stopper.
Overall – A Crisis Season and a Need to Bounce Back
Though there have been evident bright sparks for Bournemouth at times this season. However, Eddie Howe is no longer working his magic at the club, and the atmosphere is all doom and gloom.
But Bournemouth certainly went down fighting, and their owner has already expressed his commitment towards getting the Cherries back in the Premier League.
Appointing the right manager to succeed Howe will be crucial, as will signing to right replacements for the stars who do seek out the exit door this summer.
Bournemouth exceeded expectations for five years in the Premier League. Perhaps they will soon find a way back up and target a sixth.
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