Author: Alex Dudley (These views are the view of the Author and not necessarily the view of Valley News)
The rise of Bournemouth through the Football League pyramid is unique. As Eddie Howe prepares to lead the Cherries of Dorset into the Premier League for their fifth straight season, what could the club aim to achieve over the next nine months?
Last season offered so much for the team, as they sat in sixth after 12 rounds of fixtures but injuries to key players saw a downfall in form. The Cherries appeased with a 14th place finish. The club has strengthened once again over the summer months, but most importantly they have managed to keep hold of the essential members of their squad such as Nathan Ake and Callum Wilson. Does this mean that something special could be in store?
Best Premier League Finish
The tools seem to be in place for Bournemouth to finally break the record 9th place finish that they achieved in the 2016-17 season. Wilson is a bonafide star and a proven goalscorer at this level, and it’s hard to argue that any hope that the club has of achieving their goals almost certainly hinges on the England international remaining fit for the entirety of the season.
Cherries fans won’t get carried away with their ambitions for this season; they aren’t expected a miracle Leicester City-esque season. After all, that is as likely as the Cincinatti Bengals, being tipped as NFL playoff favorites. It is almost impossible.
However, a finish within the top eight could be well within the realms of possibility. Howe’s investment in the squad has been shrewd, and the signings of David Brooks, Dominic Solanke and Jefferson Lerma were brought to set the club up for seasons to come.
They all enjoyed excellent debut campaigns last term and they will be expected to kick-on further in the 2019-20 season. The additions of Lloyd Kelly and Jack Stacey from Bristol City and Luton Town respectively carry on with the smart business, and Cherries fans should be excited to see how they adjust to life in the Premier League.
The consistency will be crucial to what the club can achieve this season. At times last season, they looked vulnerable defensively, and that is something Howe must address. The Cherries started the season brilliantly; with just two defeats in their opening ten fixtures. However, their form from November until January was nothing short of disastrous and effectively ended any hopes of achieving something special.
Over those 13 fixtures, Bournemouth only tasted victories on two occasions and drew just once. Ten defeats in that space of time was a remarkable downfall, and the club will have to be careful not to fall into that form again in the 2019-20 season; in what is expected to be a very competitive Premier League season.
Of course, the victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in the second half of the season highlighted everything that is brilliant about the club. They were able to trouble the European giants to an extent that most clubs could only dream of. Should they reach that level throughout the season, then there is no reason why they couldn’t finish in the top eight.
The dream for any Bournemouth fan would be to win a first significant trophy. The FA Cup or League Cup could present a real target in 2019-20, and as was evident last season they were able to trouble the big boys on one-off games. The crucial element to this would be to hit form at the right time of the season and avoid the banana skins of the smaller clubs in both competitions.
Still, overall, it is how seriously Howe decides to approach these fixtures. Should he field the strongest possible line-up throughout both competitions then the Cherries fans can begin to dream.