They seemed set to get relegated, they really did. Marcus Tavernier, Ryan Fredericks and Marcos Senesi are hardly contenders to save you from the familiar devastation of Championship football. You then go and sack your manager Scott Parker, a key asset in securing your promotion, just four days into the season and you’ve essentially all but stamped your ticket for lower league football the following year.
Popular content creator Tom Garrat was so sure of Bournemouth’s demise prior to the season that on the Pitch Side podcast he said would, “Never make a video again in my life” on his TikTok account (which has over seventy-thousand followers) if the, “Stupid club” somehow managed to stay up.
They say you start to take the table seriously after ten games in the Premier League. If that is the case as I believe it is, then I’m sure Bournemouth fans will be delighted and almost certainly surprised by their decent league position and Mr Garratt may need to think of another source of income.
Without a manager, just six new arrivals, just over 20m spent. Yet astoundingly the Cherries are tied on points with Liverpool (13) and five points clear of the ever-looming drop zone. How did they get there? Yes, I know Liverpool have not had the strongest start to the season but this is no reason to overlook a formidable start to Bournemouth’s campaign.
Since losing Parker just four games into the season, caretaker manager Gary O’Neil has waved his magic wand and inspired his players to four draws and two wins. Since his introduction to the Cherries dugout, Bournemouth have not lost a game and are the only team to do so.
Whether O’Neil has cemented his place as a permanent manager is still up for debate but with him seemingly set to take up the position, could Bournemouth really keep this form up and seemingly do the impossible in staying up this season.
Well let’s not get too carried away. Just ten goals scored so far this season (the seventh lowest tally in the league) and a very concerning twenty-two goals conceded (the third worst tally in the Premier league) including a joint record 9-0 defeat to Liverpool. And of course, one major point is that we are only ten games into a 38-game season. There is plenty of football still to be played.
The Premier League also does not look too kindly on those who do not spend either, although Nottingham Forest seems the exception here. Historically, spending only around 30 million in a season for a newly promoting side almost guarantees a trip back down to the Championship and Bournemouth have not even spent that.
While talents such as Jefferson Lerma, Domonic Solanke and especially Phillip Billing have played out of their skin during O’Neil’s tenure, their understudies do not look set to replicate their performances should they need to step in due to injury. Trading Domonic Solanke, who scored twenty-nine times in the Championship, for Sriki Dembele does not make for good reading. Having to play Junior Stanislas over top scorer Phillip Billing does not make for good reading. One injury and it could be curtain for Bournemouth.
But let’s play Devil’s advocate. Let’s pretend that Bournemouth may go through the season unscathed from injury. Do they have enough to stay up then? The football they play right now doesn’t catch too many eyes but is effective and organised with potentially devastating counterattack abilities, all the traits of Premier League survival. With that said however, the simple answer for me is no. the three teams occupying the drop zone at the moment may not be there for long. You would expect Leicester to mount a decent comeback after a torrid start to the season. Wolves, Southampton Villa and Leeds will also make for formidable opponents in the quest to stay up.
There is a phrase which often resonates with football fans. It’s like an elephant in a tree, you don’t know how it got there but you’re sure it won’t be there for long. As much as Bournemouth fans will hate me for making the comparison, I’m afraid the analogy applies.
While on a terrific run now, it is almost certain to fizzle out as the season progresses. Bournemouth simply do not have the players nor the infrastructure capable of surviving the drop this season. Goals will be an issue for them and conceding them will be an even more pressing one. Could they stay up? Sure, I mean I’ve been wrong before. But for me and many others, the Cherries return to the Premier League is set to be a short one.