Parker enjoying unbeaten start to Bournemouth life - Interview
Monday, 13th Sep 2021 14:39 by Clive Whittingham
Bournemouth finally got around to appointing a permanent replacement for Eddie Howe this summer, and Scott Parker’s men have matched QPR’s unbeaten start with three wins and three draws. We caught up with Steve Hensmen from the Cherries Red Army Podcast for the latest.
Last season looked pretty weird from the outside, almost two caretaker managers, and a play off failure, how do you assess it looking back?
Last season was a huge upheaval for us as a club after so many years of success with Eddie Howe and also losing some of our star players. In the beginning we understood the appointment of Jason Tindall from a continuity point of view, however many of us fans doubted whether or not it would work, as a great assistant rarely translates into a great manager. We’ve seen it so many times before at other clubs and especially following Eddie, it was always going to be a hard task. JT actually did quite well to start with and we were the longest running unbeaten team in all four divisions, having said that with the squad we still had many performances that were underwhelming and the cracks started to show in the new year. Too much tinkering around with formations and personnel culminated in us losing four on the bounce and ultimately JT losing his job.
In stepped Woodgate who had been at the club for a matter of days as a coach and in my opinion did the simple thing of sticking with a formation and playing the best team he had available, consistently. This worked for us and changed our fortunes somewhat, seeing us go on a run of 7 wins in a row and cemented our place in the playoffs. As you are aware we failed in the playoff semi-final surrendering a two-goal advantage to eventual winners Brentford after a moment of madness from Chris Mepham which saw him sent off. So a bit of a downer to end on.
Upon reflection considering the upheaval of Eddie leaving, along with Callum Wilson, Nathan Ake and Aaron Ramsdale and the tenures of JT and JW it could have been a lot worse. In fact I was generally happy with where we ended up considering.
Thoughts on Scott Parker's appointment and how he's done so far?
I wasn't hugely excited by SP coming in as I was in the camp of seeing what JW could have done with a whole pre-season and season. I think he earnt that chance. We’d also heard a lot on social media about how SP played from Fulham fans and it didn't fill me with much confidence if i'm honest.
Bournemouth’s league results so far…
What have you made of the opening games, positive and negative?
I have been lucky enough to be at every game home and away so far this season and for me the positives have been the style Parker is trying to play. He adopted a 433 formation with a single pivot and two CAM’s and with an emphasis on high intensity pressing high. Which has been refreshing to see. Another positive is the emergence of some of the youth players, who to their credit have done exceptionally well considering they've had very little first team experience. Having said both those positives, they are also the negatives, the formation and style although refreshing, its not working to its maximum yet but give it time and I think the team will gel more together. As for the youngsters, they have been great, but playing this way has really taken it out of some of them as they've been needed every game so far. Also, it highlighted our lack of depth and the ability to make changes as we’ve had very few options to bring on and change a game. We saw this with two successive draws at home to Blackpool (2-2) and away to Hull City (0-0).
Tell us about your summer transfer business...
Summer transfers have been interesting. The club are quite clearly trying to balance the books and we've lost some of our biggest earners in Asmir Begovic to Everton, Arnaut Danjuma to Valencia, but also the likes of Sam Surridge to Stoke, Deigo Rico to Real Sociedad, Jack Wilshire was released and one of our fringe academy products sold to Exeter City. Also we saw Cameron Carter Vickers loan end and return to Tottenham. So we lost a lot of quality there most notably Danjuma who was our stand out player last season scoring 15 from wide left.
Incomings have seen us sign the likes of Emiliano Marcondes (CAM) on a free from Brentford, Gary Cahill (CB) from Palace on a free, Orjan Nyland (GK) from Norwich on a free, and also the loans of Leif Davis (LB) from Leeds and Morgan Rogers (FW) from Man City. The most interesting though were Ryan Christie (CAM) from Celtic and Jamal Lowe (FW) from Swansea both for undisclosed fees. I think the club has managed to make around £20m and also reduce the wage bill somewhat. All in all the general feeling is it was a great transfer window for us. Time will tell.
Ins >>> Ryan Christie, 26, AM, Celtic, £2.6m >>> Jamal Lowe, 27, RW, Swansea, Undisclosed >>> Gary Cahill, 35, CB, Palace, Free >>> Emiliano Marcondes, 26, AM, Brentford, Free >>> Orjan Nyland, 30, GK, Norwich, Free >>> Leif Davis, 21, LB, Leeds, Loan >>> Morgan Rogers, 19, LW, Man City, Loan
Outs >>> Arnaut Danjuma, 24, LW, Villareal, £21m >>> Sam Surridge, 23, CF, Stoke, £2.6m >>> Diego Rico, 28, LB, Real Sociedad, £450k >>> Kyle Taylor, 22, CM, Exeter, Undisclosed Nnamdi Ofobohr, 21, CM, Rangers, Free >>> Asmir Begovic, 34, GK, Everton, Undisclosed >>> Jack Wheelchair, 29, CM, Le Tabac, Free
Where is the team strong and where is it weak?
The team is generally strong now all over the pitch barring the striker position. We really only have Dominic Solanke as a striker and personally he's not an out and out striker more of a 10 who will drop deep quite a lot. So we will be reliant on the midfield and wide players chipping in with goals this season. Also the keeper spot is a concern as Begovic was so good for us last season and now we have his understudy who is still very young and Nyland, who the jury is still out on. Our real strength is midfield where we now have a multitude of options in Phillip Billing, Jefferson Lerma, Ben Pearson, Ryan Christie, Emiliano Marcondes and the emergence of Gavin Kilkenny from the youth team who has been exceptional. That's not including Lewis Cook who is not far away from a return from a long term injury as well. Could be a big headache for SP when they are all available.
How do you think you'll do this season?
I think we will challenge for the playoffs again this season. I don't think we are quite up to the standard of Fulham or West Brom but feel like with the additions we’ve made, the top six should be easily achievable if Parker gets the blend right.
Does it start to get difficult, FFP and finances wise, if you don't go back this season?
I believe it will start to get very difficult if we don't go back up this season and the likes of Jeff Lerma, David Brooks, Philip Billing, Dominic Solanke, Lloyd Kelly etc might be sold on. Players like Steve Cook and Gary Cahill who are in their last year of their contract would be let go. However, we do still have a good core group with some really promising youngsters so it's not all bad news.
The Twitter @loftforwords, @SteveHensman1, @CherriesRedArmy
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