They’ve only spent one year in top flight in club history, but AFC Bournemouth didn’t struggle like most newly-promoted clubs do; instead, they survived in relative comfort.
A 16th-place finish isn’t so bad for 38 year old manager Eddie Howe and his youthful squad, one that hasn’t had to compete with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea on a weekly basis before. Howe is pretty new to this whole managing thing but that belies his leadership qualities and innate ability to spot talent and allocate it effectively.
Norwegian winger Joshua King found his home on England’s southern coast, bagging 6 goals in 31 games this last season, one of which was a winning goal against his former club Manchester United.
The winger opposite of King, Matt Ritchie, just joined relegated Newcastle United, but that’s not something Bournemouth fans will worry about, seeing they just signed 4 young players, one of which is talented winger Jordon Ibe. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because it is; Ibe was featured in some starting squads for Liverpool, although Ibe never claimed a weekly spot in Jurgen Klopp’s team. Jordon is Ritchie’s junior by six years, so there is plenty of room to grow as a player but he’s come to a team where he can see a lot of first team action.
Also among those four new players is Nathan Ake, a Chelsea loanee who can assume a diverse range of positions, whether it be center defensive midfielder or left-back. He’s been loaned out to various clubs, but he was the Young Player of the Year at Watford last season, so don’t think he’s some kid who hasn’t found his place yet; the 21 year old can play wherever he wants. For the next year Eddie Howe will have a handful of talented 20-somethings at his disposal, but Ake may end up being one of the most important; it pays to have a versatile player during a grinding September-May campaign.
20 year old Frenchman Lys Mousset agreed to a four year deal from Ligue 2 side Le Havre, but it’s not likely he will see much time on the pitch next year, along with Emerson Hyndman, a very talented kid from the US. Hyndman is more likely to see time than Mousset, but with Howe’s predilection to play younger players, who knows what could happen. Ibe is 20 just like they are, but he’s at a higher level than they are at the moment.
With their main source of goals now locked in, Bournemouth and their talented midfield look like a young club that’s ready to become a mainstay in the English Premier League.
Many clubs struggle to find their footing once they reach top flight, but under a brilliant manager like Eddie Howe, it doesn’t seem like much can go wrong. So far, nothing has.