Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Controlling debt will be AFCB's biggest battle

You'll all of read by now that AFCB's accounts up to the financial year ending in July 2013 had a whopping £15m club debt after the last season in League One. That is before the signings of players like Tokelo Rantie, Lee Camp, Yann Kermorgant, Adam Smith and other Development squad signings in January this year. It is a different world that football clubs are living in and the £8m financial fair play edict is something that clubs are going to find hard to stay within in the first few years. 
There's been a lot of spending at Dean Court.
For AFCB it is of course a big worry that the club is spending far more than its income and a massive amount of work will still need to be done to bring spending under control. The need to be competitive also comes with a huge expense and the players' wages and signings are said to be the main reason for spiralling costs - see full figures on the Bournemouth Echo report. It will be very important to hear what Jeff Mostyn says on the financial state of the club and how they are going to try and put the club on a firmer financial footing.

The £7.5m loan to Wintel Petrochemicals is said to be due to expire on 5 October and I do wonder what that means for the summer months and transfer business. If sales do need to be made then AFCB has the players now to recoup much of the debt but if team strengthening is the plan this summer then new funds will need to come from some source. The rumoured £3m interest of Crystal Palace in Lewis Grabban may well see something happen if the Cherries need to sell, but if you compare Lewis to Jordan Rhodes scoring power then an asking figure of £8m is surely nearer the mark. We can expect players like Matt Tubbs, Miles Addisson, Josh McQuoid and Shwan Jalal to leave the club while Stephen Purches and Richard Hughes will probably hand up their boots. But large sums of money will be needed to bring the balance back to something more reasonable and I suspect that further loans are a possibility. 

When you consider what the losses were in 2013 at Bolton £50.7m, QPR £65m, while Leicester City had Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha to bail them out of £103m in debts, you may not think that AFCB's losses are not so large, but for a club that has not been operating long in the the higher eschelons of the football league it is important that the finances quickly come into order for the future safety of the club. Even Nottingham Forest who the Cherries beat at the weekend only has losses of £12m in 2013.

The Cherries have been Yanntastic!

Since the signing of Yann Kermorgant in January the upward curve of the Cherries league form has been formidable in Championship terms. While the team looked like a collection of individuals last Autumn it has been moulded into a supreme Championship outfit and central to that has been the addition of Yann Kermorgant. Eddie Howe knew exactly what he would be adding with Yann and the fit with the team has been perfection.

I love an intelligent forward and Yann definitely comes into that category.
What I like about Yann is that he is very unselfish as a striker. There are so any occasions when he just makes the right choice of whether he should shoot or simply pass to a fellow player - he rarely gets it wrong. We know he is the club's most powerful player in the air and yet his touch and control is second to none as well. He may not be as fast as one or two others but his speed of thought is first class. Had he been in the team from the start of the season I do think that the Cherries may well have made the play-offs. Since January Yann and Lewis have scored 22 goals between them and it's no wonder that AFCB climbed the table quickly with that kind of scoring power.

            Show me another player in the Championship who thinks as quickly as this. What a back pass!

Yann has been one of the big contributors in the second half of the season and the way his name is sung out at every game for so many times just underlines how the fans simply love him. I don't know of any AFCB fan who were screaming for Yann to be signed from Charlton before it happened, but the scouts at AFCB certainly did their homework as he has been terrific and I can't wait to see what he can do for the team with more games next season. 
Yann is always a step ahead.
Power, touch and accuracy, no wonder Kermorgant has been such a big hit.
Yann will no doubt also be pleased that Charlton, his former club, won 3-1 against Watford last night to secure their place in the Championship next season. I see another trip to the Vally coming up for us all next season.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Grabban has made the grade

At the start of the season not everyone would have put Lewis Grabban as the most likely to be AFCB's top scorer in the Championship. It was Brett Pitman who had been the sharp shooter in the previous campaign and the competition from Wes Thomas, Matt Tubbs and Josh McQuoid during preseason could have seen a much different front line from what we see at the club today. Yet, Lewis has gone on to cement his starting place in the team and to have scored 22 times with one game to go is a tremendous achievement for him.
Lewis receives the Junior Cherry player of the year Award.
Lewis picks up the supporter's player of the year Award.
Don't get sidelined by thinking many of the goals were scored from no more than 12 yards. Scoring from the spot is no simple task - ask any England fan. Lewis seems to like the pressure though and when he is on the pitch he has little problem in shutting things out to concentrate on putting the ball in the back of the net. While he did miss a spot kick against Watford he can even claim that that one was saved rather than missed. 

At the moment there are only two player names above him in the Championship scoring chart. Ross McCormack and Jordan Rhodes are the players he chases while Troy Deeney has the same number of goals as Lewis. To be in such company is fantastic for Lewis but I do fear that it will attract the eyes of Premiership clubs and hungry Championship sides that will be able to splash large sums of money for such talent. Having rebuffed an approach from Brighton already it is clear that Lewis is a commodity that is already a prized possession of the Cherries. His price tag is certainly high now but he seems to like the club and Eddie Howe will be in no mood to see any more offers for him coming in.

This season Lewis has improved immensely with his off the ball runs and his holding up of the ball to bring in other players. It is the all round ability of Lewis that we could see developing last season and now the whole package is what Lewis will be working to make even better. The snap shots he takes from outside the box and his one-on-one forays can be areas where he can add goals and perhaps he can learn from Yann Kermorgant how to score even more goals with headers. There is always things that players can do better and Lewis seems to have the right attitude. As winner of the Supporters Player of the Year Award, the Exiles' player of the year Award and the Junior Cherries Award, Lewis Grabban can look back at a job well done for this season.

For those of you who also saw Lewis' post-Forest interview there was also a wry smile on his face when he mentioned how nice it would be to score against them on Saturday - so maybe there is still some unfinished business for Grabban. 

If you would like to recall a couple of earlier 2013/14 games I have uploaded the Bolton wanderers and Derby County home game pictures to Cherry Chimes on Facebook. You can search Cherry Chimes on Facebook which will get you to the page or download the Cherry Chimes Android mobile phone App and click on the Facebook symbol.

I've loved coming down to Dean Court

Saturday afternoons are going to be a bit quieter in the coming weeks. As the football season draw to an end I'll be putting my feet up a bit more often rather than travelling the miles to and from Dean Court. I have always looked forward this season to making the journey down to Dean Court. Just the see the crowds assemble outside the ground and to know that there is another match soon to kick off has been fabulous to see, because we all know that we have a special team.

There's no better place to be.
There are bigger grounds and more expensive teams that have been assembled in the Championship, but Dean Court has an atmosphere that is all its own. What is more it is great to see that the team responds to the crowd which physically lifts the team's performance. That hasn't always been the case in the past, but as Eddie Howe has been commenting, there is a united force that is propelling this club forward. It is not something that you can put your finger on or tap if you are another club. It is to do with the experience that we have all gone through in the last few years that hasn't come to a conclusion yet. There is a sense of unfinished business even though the club has completed a season in the Championship near enough.

We all know we'll be back for more next season and the anticipation will build over the summer. While everyone starts from zero points again in August I feel that AFCB is already pointing towards another successful campaign to come and that makes the summer all the more enjoyable for me. 

There was one Forest supporter who tweeted me after their recent defeat at Dean Court. He could not understand why AFCB fans had a pitch invasion to celebrate finishing outside of the play-off places, even though he understood it was the club's highest ever points tally in the Championship. He probably didn't get the fact that we are a close-knit club with a real appreciation of our players and staff, and the feeling of togetherness that was made even stronger through the difficult years is still galvanising us today to achieve greater things. I actually felt sorry for the Forest supporter because he will probably never have that family club feeling that AFCB have and, while it is great to see the club grow I hope we don't lose sight of where we have come from.

Finally, having read that Matt Tubbs could be offered a permanent deal by Crawley according to the Bournemouth Echo and that Shwan Jalal could be on his way to Bury, there could be a lot of coming and goings over the summer, so if I was after a quiet period I might just have to think again!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Mr Consistent can only get better

I have not looked at every club's player record this season, but I bet there are very few that have a player that has played in every minute of every fixture. Simon Francis is one player though who has the strength and performance levels that have made him a natural selection for Eddie Howe to go to at right back for every game in the 2013/14 season and I don't think he missed many last season either.
Simon Francis receives the Mick Cavey trophy.
In matches in his first Championship season Simon was found out a few times early on, as were some of his team mates at the back. But I suppose the big defeats though to Watford and Huddersfield did the team a lot of good in the end. They soon knew what the Championship was all about. Coming back from difficult games though is what Francis and others have done well. I still see that more can come from Francis in terms of his defending and positioning, but going forward he has been simply outstanding. He is powerful and yet a thoughtful player when he drives forward and always has his head up looking for the perfect cross or pass. He may over hit a few crosses and be so quick as to be ahead of play, but his enthusiasm to get forward is one of the signatures of Eddie Howe's team.

After this season Simon and others in the back four will have a much better idea of what to expect next time around and it should help them to be more consistent. But if you are talking of consistency Mr Francis has to be the player that embodies that at the club as he has been there for every minute of every game. To win the Echo's Micky Cave Trophy is just reward for his performances and appearances this season.

They've done us proud

How can you not get a bit emotional about the Cherries when they have had the best season in their history? It will be hard to say goodbye to the 2013-14 season although there is just one more game to play. The home fans though have said their goodbye's on the back of a splendid 4-1 demolition of Nottingham Forest. We've dreamed of days like that for many years but never really thought it could happen on a regular basis. Now Bournemouth has a team that is ranked in the country's top 30 sides and with another push it could well be seeing Premier League football within the not too distant future.

There is more than one man who has helped take the club up the football pyramid, but surely few will have had more fans praise him from the bottom of their hearts than Eddie Howe. Bournemouth fans can't get enough of him and the feeling appears to be mutual. While Eddie is at the helm anything really is possible.

We entered the season hoping for the best and Eddie and his team have delivered on so many levels that supporters have been left with sheer delight on their faces. The late run towards the play-offs only enhanced our enjoyment and it has demonstrated that the players can reach levels that they themselves might not have believed at the start of the season. It's not Little Bournemouth anymore - the club has arrived and mixing with the best teams in the Championship is something that we can all look forward to for another season now.

All Departments has released Kangaroo Court covering the last home match of the season. Visit All Departments website or scroll down Cherry Chimes side panel to listen to the podcast to hear how Nottingham Forest were defeated at Dean Court. 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Cherries end of season pitch invasion and celebration

The end of season last home game always sees a pitch invasion of some kind and while the Bournemouth fans had not secured a promotion there was no less pleasure in how the team had performed over the last nine months. When the final whistle went against Nottingham Forest it was a mass dash for the players who soon found themselves mobbed by the hoards of supporters who just wanted to greet their heroes.

As the game reached its final stages there were plenty of shouts of: "If Rantie scores we're on the pitch". Sadly he did not get a shot on goal but Rantie did set up Kermorgant for the fourth and he may well have a bigger part to play next season.

It was not many minutes before the crowds were being asked to vacate the pitch so that the players could come out on to the pitch safely again. While some were a little slow to remove themselves behind the barriers the reluctant ones got there in the end. As the players came out there were still thousands of supporters who had stayed behind to have a bit of a party and to thank them for the season. Below is a shaky video of the crowd pitch invasion, but it gives you some idea of how many were there.

One by one the players came out to tremendous cheers and the back room staff were also given a huge welcome before Eddie Howe stepped on to the pitch. It might not have been as loud as last season, but everyone was keen to celebrate like it was a promotion.

We can now look forward to the last away game next weekend and already the players are keen to sign off with a win to take their overall points haul to 69 points.

Cherries sign-off at home with great display to stun Forest 4-1

Match Report
AFCB 4 v1 Nottingham Forest
26 April 2014
Attendance: 11,021

AFCB v Forest at Dean Court.
Tommy Elphick and Danny Collins at the coin toss.
You might  have though that  recent results would have left their mark on the Cherries as they had nothing to really play for in this last home game having seen their play-off chances virtually disappear on Friday night. That wasn't the case though. While there was plenty of silverware being handed out to Simon Francis and Lewis Grabban for their performances over the season there was still plenty of business to do. The Cherries came out all fired up against a Forest team who were still in the play-off hunt, but were lacking in fight and creativity. Bournemouth dominated this game and showed just why they are a team that could well do even better next season. They simply passed Forest off the pitch and 4-1 was just reward for their superiority.

More pictures are available to see on Match Day Gallery.

Here we go.
Eddie Howe rested Charlie Daniels and Elliot Ward was left out of the squad, so it is likely that he picked up a knock in training during the week or at the last game against Ipswich. This changes allowed Ian Harte and Tommy Elphick back into the starting line up, while the bench included Coulibaly and Arter.

Gary Brazil brought in Lee Peltier to the Forest starting line up as Jamie Paterson did not travel, while Evtimov and Cox were brought into the subs.

First Half
From the start the AFCB players drew on the support of the home crowd and set about their game at a high work rate. O'Kane was making the early play while Halford, Derbyshire and Osborn did their best to frustrate. The first shot come on two minutes with O'Kane finding Ritchie who fired just a foot wide of the post. Ritchie then almost got played in by Grabban as the Forest defence started shakily. 

Camp also had an early shock when Derbyshire closed down a clearance of his but it went straight out for a goal kick. With play going end to end in the first 10 minutes we saw Jamie Mackie and David Vaughan on the right side working well with Peltier and Osborn. Grabban always on the last man and was given offside from an early ball up the field from Cook. A moment later Peltier put a back pass in that de Vries had trouble keeping in play on the back line and looked just pleased to get it clear in the end.

Dorus de Vries was then called into greater action as Grabban escaped up the right side of the box and fired in a shot that hit the keeper full on from point blank range and went out for a corner on 10 minutes. Bournemouth were stringing together good passages of play now and every one in red and black was getting a touch of the ball. Ritchie's touches and flicks were coming off and Surman was always finding space and making himself available. It was like clockwork at time with the interchange of players moving from one position to another seamlessly and it was not easy for Forest to cope with at times. Peltier was perhaps doing best to get a foot in while Derbyshire kept chasing up front. 

Forest first chance came with Ritchie giving the ball away and Derbyshire breaking on the right and making a good pass to McLaughlin who shot well wide from the D on the edge of the box after 21 minutes. This was a period when Forest were having more joy though. Pugh was caught in possession and Cook and Francis were clearing up from the attentions of Matt Derbyshire.    

Mackie and Vaughan started to see more of the ball but Forest's best player at this moment was the captain Collins, at centre back, who was kept busy with Kermorgant who seemed to be on the end of most of his challenges that often left him on the deck. Steve Cook came forward trying to carry the ball out of defence and played Surman a good ball who struck his shot past the left post as we neared 30 minutes play.

Ritchie was not letting Harding at left back settle on the ball and he went in hard on him, which the referee gave him a talking to about. Mackie was starting to do well against Harte and Surman and his cross  to Vaughan who tried to get Harding in, but AFCB were quick to snuff out the danger. Bournemouth's next attack saw Grabban fire over. 

Forest came back well with Harding and McLaughlin winning a corner down forest's left wing Osborn took the kick which bounced in the box before Elphick cleared. AFCB were back on the attack and Pugh screwed his shot off target on 38 minutes.

The first goal looked certain to come though when Derbyshire was played in over the top from Forest's right side. The assistant referee was so far behind play he had no idea if he was off side of not but he seemed to be in acres of space and clean through on Camp. But Lee stood tall and put out a right boot that saw the shot deflect away. AFCB were still trying to get the lead as well though and Grabban was next to fire a shot wide on 39 minutes.

Another Forest break with Mackie went out of play and Cook took a throw up to Kermorgant who beat Collins in the air. O'Kane and Grabban then took things on and Francis came up on the right and flashed a cross in from the byline on the right having beaten his man and Yann Kermorgant was there, on the far post, to nod home a simple finish that put the Cherries 1-0 up on 42 minutes. AFCB held the lead and went in at half time one goal to the good.

Half time fun.
Cherry Bear in goal.
Second Half
O'Kane won an early free kick as Bournemouth looked to strike early in the second half. The Cherries were in full flow again with Kermorgant and Grabban working well on the right. O'Kane then had a shot before the ball fell to Grabban and it was 2-0 as Grabban notched up his 21st goal of the season with a low shot across the keeper to the bottom right corner on 47 minutes.

If that was excitement then Kermorgant almost took everyone's breath away a minute later when he went for an audacious chip from 40 yards out that had de Vries scrambling back on to his line where he caught the ball just in front of the line, with the assistant referee still trying to catch up with play. 

AFCB won a corner next while Kermorgant was downed by Halford off the ball. Forest were reassembling themselves and Vaughan had a good effort on about 53 minutes, again wide of the target though. Francis was pulled up just afterwards when he slipped and handled the ball in front of Derbyshire. A free kick was given on Forest's left wing as the kicker crept the ball forward about 5 yards from where the incident took place. The kick was swung in and as we have see so often the Cherries failed to mark up well enough and from a set play Forest struck back with a header from Halford on 56 minutes.

The Cherries were not to be discouraged though and even while the Forest fans sung Peltier and Vaughan were unable to keep possession and the pattern soon reverted to the Cherries back on the ball. Pugh was putting in crosses that had Collins and de Vries in a tizz more than once and Ritchie shot wide on the hour mark.

Lascelles was finally given a yellow card for taking Kermorgant out yet again and Ritchie almost profited from a ball lofted into the box that de Vries just managed to get to first. Pugh again caused havoc with a cross that Collins headed over as the Cherries looked to extend their lead.

Forest's passing was not as crisp and while Vaughan was doing okay, Osborn was wayward at times. Surman and O'Kane were looking more threatening as they tried to find a killer ball for Grabban or Kermorgant.

Forest made a sub on 64 minutes with Lascelles replaced by Jara. Francis showed his spirit with a good sliding tackle on McLaughlin as Forest came forward again. They won a corner on 67 minutes which saw Peltier and then Halford with the chance but it went over.

The 68th minute saw another Forest sub as Cox came on for Vaughan. Yann Kermorgant made a good interception while doing some defending and that sent Ritchie off on a run. Surman, Kermorgant and O'Kane got on the ball before Pugh took the ball into the box and his quick turn caught out Jara who tripped him and the referee point to the spot. It was no problem for Grabban who took a short run up and fired the Cherries 3-1 up which was no more than their play had deserved.

Forest could see their play-off dreams fading now and Henderson was brought on for McLaughlin as Gary Brazil looked to find a way back with 17 minutes left. Harding fouled Ritchie once too often and went in the book. Ritchie then swapped over to the left side for a bit before Jara made a clearance. Grabban was caught offside soon after and Forest's next attack ended with Simon Cox shooting from distance that almost caught Camp off guard but he kept it out. 

There was a better chance with Jara finding Osborn whose cross come shot was just kept out on the near post by Camp. No one made an good enough effort for a header from the corner and AFCB escaped again.

Ritchie almost got in the clear on 77 minutes when facing Harding and got into the box before going down. But he was judged to have been pulling a Forest shirt and the kick went the other way. Forest had the ball in the back of the net in the last 10 minutes as Peltier and Cox set up Derbyshire but he was offside and the goal was disallowed.

Pugh was then subbed for Fraser on 81 minutes. Another corner for Forest again went over everyone and Rantie came on for Grabban with five minutes to go. A break by Fraser who went down in the box was not given as a penalty although he was pushed in the back by Peltier, but just went over too easy.

Cook then picked up a yellow card for a foul on Mackie. It was still Bournemouth pressing though and Ritchie went for a curler from the left wing that de Vries collected easily. Elphick and Cook were still making blocks at the other end and when Francis made a clearance, Ritchie, Kermorgant and O'Kane soon had Forest on their heels again. This time O'Kane and then Rantie in the box kept the move going until Kermorgant put the ball into the net to make it 4-1. Job done! Forest had been blown away.

While Coulibaly came on for Ritchie there were no more major dramas as AFCB recorded yet another home win and could start to celebrate what has been a great season for the south coast Championship newcomers.
And the score did not flatter the Cherries - it could have been more.

Fans celebrate a great season for the Cherries.
The Cherries were in no mood to let Forest have much of the ball. They worked extremely hard at keeping possession and making their triangles work to good effect. On the break Simon Francis is a truly awesome player and he will always find a willing finisher in Kermorgant, while Grabban has really looked like a forward who enjoys the Championship and the pressure it brings. I expected this to be a difficult game but in truth Forest were no match for the Cherries who looked by far the better team. If Derbyshire had taken his early chance in the first half perhaps things would have been different, but you have to praise Lee Camp for keeping the ball out. Bournemouth still don't seem to be able to stop enough dead ball situations from causing problems in the box and Eddie Howe will be asking why Forest scored from their free kick just like Ipswich did last week? But there were far more positives from this performance and a top 10 finish looks on the cards for the Cherries if they can put in one more big performance at Millwall.

Match Highlights

Pitch invasion.
The North stand.
Camp, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Harte, Ritchie (Coulibaly 92), O'Kane, Surman, Pugh (Fraser 82), Kermorgant, Grabban (Rantie 85)

Allsop,Rantie, Coulibaly, Daniels, Smith, Arter, Fraser

AFCB  Ratings
Camp 8, Francis 8, Cook 8, Elphick 7, Harte 7, Ritchie 8, O'Kane 8, Surman 8, Pugh 7, Kermorgant 9, Grabban 8

Nottingham Forest
de Vries,Harding, Collins, Mackie, Halford, Lascelles (Jara 65),Vaughan (Cox 69), Derbyshire, McLaughlin (Henderson 73), Pelteir, Osborn.

Forest Subs
Evtimov, Henderson, Greening,Jara, Tudgay,Majewski, Cox
AFCB supporters look to get near the players.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Cherry Chimes speaks to Mist Rolling In from the Trent

Match Preview
AFCB v Nottingham Forest
Blogger Interview - Mist Rolling In From The Trent

Well Brighton & Hove Albion finished Bournemouth's play-off hopes last night unless there is an amazing turnaround in goal difference, but AFCB still have some say in who might make those play-offs and who could go down with their remaining games against Nottingham Forest and Millwall. We had a great match against Nottingham Forest earlier in the season with both teams really going full out attack for each other. I expect a similar scenario this weekend but what does Steve Wright author of the Mist Rolling In From The Trent blog for Forest fans? Is he all excited about a new era under Stuart Pearce and what of this season - can Forest still make the play-offs despite everything?

CC: Do you think Billy Davies media blackout back fired on him?

MRIFTT: It was about far more than a media blackout to be honest, the return of Davies to Forest felt like it was a personal vendetta and the fallout from it has been massive, but his attitude certainly ensured that a section of fans were unhappy with him in charge and made moving him on after the Derby defeat easier.

Davies was given huge control of the club though, his cousin and agent was brought in as an unofficial Chief Executive, his son and nephew were signed into the under 21 side and a whole swathe of staff on both the football and administration sides of the club were removed from their posts. The owner was very naive in the way he handled Davies and it would be nice to think he wised up when sacking him, but it could just as easily be that he made the move because we dropped out of the top six, which is not so reassuring about the future.

CC: Were fan expectations set too high this season for the Forest team or do you think they should have done better with the squad and investment you have?

MRIFTT: In my opinion expectations have been wrong at Forest for years. I say wrong rather than too high because I think that the focus of the whole club, including fans, has become extremely short term. And I say my opinion because that’s all it is in the end and we aren’t all going to agree.

I want to see Forest invest time and energy into building a structure that can deliver a club that we can be proud of whatever league we are playing in. It doesn’t feel like we are that club at the moment, we have no long term vision, as I said before the football and administration structures have been destroyed, we have been reported to the Football League by Chelsea and Derby for unpaid bills and we have had winding up orders served by other creditors. We feel like a club that is both disorganised and unpopular and I don’t like either of those things.

As a big club with a proud history we should be looking to return to the top flight but we need to invest in the processes and foundations that can deliver that. At the moment out short term thinking is damaging financially and also leads to an atmosphere where the team are booed if they concede a goal and at times it just isn’t a great place to be.

CC: What has it been like watching games at the City ground under caretaker manager, Gary Brazil?

MRIFTT: Brazil got the job because he was the only significant football person left at the club after Davies left. He’s a good bloke, speaks very well and is doing a good job in the academy. It was always going to be tricky to come in after Davies left and pick the club up, especially with all the injuries we have had. As a result the continued inability to win made it quite painful to watch at times but even before we posted back to back wins against Birmingham and Leeds I had felt more positive about the club.

Brazil has taken the opportunity to give youth a chance in the form of Ben Osborn and he has been hugely impressive. We have also seen first team debuts for Stephen McLaughlin and Dimitar Evtimov and crucially, rather than moaning about injuries, Brazil has got on and worked with the players he has available. I think that has lifted players. Matt Derbyshire is the obvious example with 4 goals in 3 games having not had a look in prior to the change of manager, but I think others are benefiting from the manager’s faith in them too. I’m not getting carried away about beating Birmingham and Leeds, who are both poor teams, but I think that Brazil has begun to change the culture of the club and hope that will continue beyond his time as manager.

CC: How excited are fans generally that a club hero like Physco (and I say that affectionately as an England fan) will be in charge next season?

MRIFTT: Personally I am very excited. Pearce is one of my heroes and I have also been very impressed with the way he has talked about what he plans to do at the club. Some people have expressed concern about his CV to date but I am very positive about him coming back and needed that emotional excitement back after the misery of Davies. I just hope that Pearce can manage the owner effectively because although his money is propping the club up at the moment he has been less than impressive so far and is my biggest fear for the future.

CC: Did you think that the QPR game had killed your season until your recent win against Birmingham?

MRIFTT: The way we fell apart in the final few minutes against QPR really was a hammer blow but it has been great to see the side bounce back with two wins. It amazes me that with two games left and after an awful run of form we are still in the hunt for the playoffs but I am fairly relaxed about the end of season. The change of manager was worth humiliation at the hands of Derby and the emergence of Osborn has given the end of season some genuine value so anything else is a bonus. If we did make it into that 6th spot though, we could well be faced with Derby and the chance to regain some local pride.

CC: There are so many teams in with a chance of that sixth spot - do you think it's all about nerve now?

MRIFTT: I think the number of teams competing for that final spot and the inability of any of them to claim it demonstrates that none of us are really good enough at the moment. It will be about nerve and scraping into the playoffs may be an impetus for whoever makes it to kick on but realistically Derby, Wigan and QPR are better than the rest of us and one of them should go up in the end – personally I’d expect that to be Wigan but the Championship is rarely predictable.

CC: Jamie Paterson has been on fire since the New Year but do you think Premiership clubs will try and come in for him over the summer?

MRIFTT: I said last summer that despite spending lots of money Paterson was the most exciting signing for me, he fitted with the philosophy I want us to take, a young player with obvious talent from the lower leagues who we could bring on. He has found it harder in this winless run, which isn’t surprising with important midfield players missing, but has had a great 2014 so far. I honestly think he would benefit from staying at Forest for a bit longer rather than going to a Premier League club. It’s more short term thinking that leads to young players jumping at a big move and I think it harms many of them in the long run.

CC: What players do you expect to leave Forest over the summer?

MRIFTT: We have a few out of contract in the summer, Greening, Moussi, Jara, Miller, Derbyshire, and Tudgay. I would not greatly miss any of them and there are some big earners in there, but Derbyshire has made a shout recently for an extra year with 4 goals in 3 games. There are also question marks over Abdoun and Djebbour and we have players on loan so there is a big opportunity for Pearce to restructure his squad.

Having said that, there is a very strong core and the club have announced that David Vaughan’s loan is to be made permanent in the summer which is great news. Clearly we need to look at forwards and we also need to be sure that our many injured players are able to return to full fitness as some have had serious injuries and been out for a long time, but if they are all fit we are not far off and we have the added bonus of emerging young players now being recognised too.

CC: I remember Djamel Abdoun score a classy penalty where he just chipped the ball in slowly (perhaps in the FA Cup) but he hasn’t scored many since – how do you rate him as a winger?

MRIFTT: It is very difficult to say, he has shown some quality at times but there seems to be a problem with him and his fellow Algerian international Rafik Djebbour settling at the club. You could argue that they have not had a proper chance but it wouldn’t surprise me if both left in the summer. Ironically Abdoun was in Stuart Pearce’s Manchester City squad as a youngster, although he only made one appearance as a substitute.

CC: How excited about playing AFCB as you look at the table now?

MRIFTT: I said before that I am relaxed about where we end up now but of course I am excited about the potential for our season to burst back into life. I have a lot of time for Eddie Howe and have been impressed by what he has done at Bournemouth. Both he and the club come across well. Unfortunately I cannot make it to the game, although I would love to visit Dean Court, so I will probably be at another match somewhere closer to home keeping tabs on events.

CC: The Cherries have humbled some good teams at Dean Court like QPR, Reading, Wigan and Leeds so are you expecting a difficult game and what is your score prediction?

MRIFTT: Your home form has been very good and I always saw this as a very tricky game for us. At this stage of the season though you just cannot say what will happen as nerves are a big part of things. I suppose with our respective results in the last two games the pressure is now on us more than you, so that probably means you are more likely to get the result but I’ve got to back my team so I’ll say 1-0 to Forest setting up another huge season finale for us at home to Brighton.

CC: Thank you Steve for your comments. I like a fan that sees the big picture and I think we can see that you have a lot of patience for your Forest side. It was a surprise to me that Stuart Pearce has decided to come back but not until next season when his enthusiasm might have got Forest winning again sooner, but Gary Brazil has done reasonably well and in recent matches Forest have been as good as any of the chasing pack. I am also relaxed about the result now, and I only hope our players can play their relaxing style of football against a strong Forest side. In some way's it is a shame that the two teams are not even closer to the sixth spot but I think there will be plenty of goal mouth action in this game and I can't wait to see who comes out on top.

Please visit Steve's excellent Mist Rolling In From The Trent blog that not only talks about Forest but several other of the Midland clubs and wider football matters. 

You can also predict some results and get a big return from Free Bet Negotiator

Finally, well done Simon Francis on winning the Echo/Mick Cave player of the year award.

Friday, 25 April 2014

The Cherries can end Forest's season

Who would have thought that Nottingham Forest would be needing a win at Bournemouth to stay in the play-off race this late in the season? Arguably one of the pre-season favourites for the title it all went a bit wrong for Forest causing them to part company with Billie Davies. All credit to their players though they have turned their form back around again and are coming to Dean Court with some good results behind them. It won't change the fact though that AFCB would love to stop them in their tracks.
Nottingham Forest players warm up at the City ground.
That won't be an easy task though. Forest have quality in just about every position and the side has probably slightly under performed at least if you talk to the bookies. Andy Reid has been their big threat for most of the season and just watching him play you can see what great skill he has on the ball while his shooting power is as good as any midfielder in the division.

The young man though that has been exciting to watch is Jamie Paterson and he looks like he could play at a higher level having steered Forest past West Ham's FA Cup select team earlier in the season and has continued his scoring run in the Championship. He is another quick thinking player and seems to pop up in the holes where defenders least expect so I would think that Eunan O'Kane will be looking out for him.
At Nottingham AFCB got a late equaliser from Marc Pugh.
Matt Derbyshire is also well known to our supporters from his loan period at Oldham Athletic in League One last year and he has been scoring for fun in recent weeks. The couple he scored against Leeds in Forest last away game showed his strength and the first came in the initial few seconds of the game. Henri Lansbury also scored a belter against the Cherries up at the City ground and Simon Cox is another player who will score the odd goal for them.

So where is Forest's weakness? It could just be in their over confidence. They expected to beat AFCB easily at home and yet they came unstuck. They are likely to be equally confident of taking all three points at Dean Court and that could well suit the Cherry to see them come at us, because on the break AFCB have scored some great goals this season. Away from home Forest have not been doing as well as when they play at home and the stakes in this game will be particularly high for Forest, while the Cherries may just like playing with a bit of freedom and no real pressure now.

Nottingham Forest Away form

AFCB Home form

The Cherries could be playing just for a top 10 finish

With Brighton playing Yeovil at home tonight and already sitting three points ahead of the Cherries and with a goal difference of +12 you can see that the Cherries may have already lost the chance to gain a play-off spot. While it would be great if Brighton slip up I am not that confident that Yeovil can do enough to save their skins and cause an upset at the Amex. That means that Nottingham Forest will come to Dean Court still full of optimism for the last play-off spot and the Cherries could just be looking to finish as high as they can.

I hope it does not play on the players minds too much if it is over for them before they have even kicked a ball on Saturday. While it is a very big long shot now of reaching that sixth spot it would make Saturday's game far more exciting if both teams know that a win would possibly give then a chance still of making the play-offs. Even then though there are many teams in better positions that Forest and Bournemouth, but we can blame SKY TV for the Friday kick off and taking some excitement away from what should still be a great game between AFCB and Forest.
Here's hoping that the Cherries are playing for more than
 just having to stop Nottingham Forest reaching the play-offs.
Of course it will be the game where all the end of season awards are handed out and there will be a fair few smiles and applause for the team's efforts since last August. It is quite amazing how the time has slipped passed. Now we have a team that has almost completed its first season back in the Championship and the object now must be to try and build on such a magnificent campaign. That will only be achieved by keeping as much of the first team squad together as is possible and by adding a couple of more quality players over the summer. While we enjoy the World Cup I am sure that preparations will be in full swing to ensure that the Cherries are well equipped for next season.

Perhaps then AFCB will be in an even better position in the table with two games to go than they are now. Not for the first time this season I am asking Yeovil Town to do the Cherries a favour. UTCIAD!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Will Macca's wait go on?

Dedicated followers of the Cherries will know that Shaun MacDonald has been sat on the bench for rather a long part of the second half of this season. The Welsh Wizard has been kept out of the team by the combined form of Andrew Surman, Eunan O'Kane and Harry Arter while Adam Smith has also scored a few substitute appearances ahead of him. As we come to the final two games of the season it may seem harsh, but I can see Shaun and others though still missing out. 

Eddie will of course pick the best team he can in the remaining two games. At the end of the season he will want to know exactly how good the squad has been in terms of their points total and what they are capable of achieving. So it is unlikely that we will see any favours, but at least those players who have played their part in training and as substitutes can take in the thanks of the crowd on Saturday when they will get a chance to share in the congratulations that I am sure will be coming their way.

Shaun MacDonald at Yeovil. 
Macca is not the only one who has not won as many starts as they might have this season. Mohamed Coulibaly has suffered with injuries for most of the time while we have only seen Richard Hughes on a few occasions. Brett Pitman and Tokelo Rantie have only been making fleeting substitute appearances of late and you can also add Ryan Allsop to the bench warmers, while Darryl Flahavan has not been near the 18 man squad very often this season. 

You never really think what it must be like for the players that have missed out on more games they would have liked. It must be difficult even though you can see the team doing well. But not playing is not playing and however successful the team is you want to be a part of it, and training does not come close to that match day experience for adrenaline and excitement. the Forest game will be a great occasion as the last home match, but Eddie can only pick 11 to play.

It could be the last we see of some of the players as a lot can happen over the summer months so we wait with anticipation to see who will come in and who will be leaving. Poor Eddie Howe won't get much chance to reflect on what has been a terrific season, because it will all be starting again so very soon. 

Can Camp keep Forest out?

Lee Camp will be up for the game against Forest. He made 163 appearances for them after signing permanently in 2009 and played for them on loan before that for 15 games, but all ex-players like to do well against their former clubs. Lee missed the away fixture at the City ground but it was at that game when Stephen Henderson got injured enabling Lee to come to AFCB on loan. 
Lee will again need to be at his against a determined Nottingham Forest team.
Lee has made such a strong start to his Bournemouth career that it seems hard to think of any one else playing between the sticks for Eddie Howe. Of course Ryan Allsop has made a few appearances this season and Darryl Flahavan made the great penalty save against Leeds early on this season, but in the main Lee Camp has been the number one.

His form has been excellent as well. Even in the last game against Ipswich he managed to get a hand to Cresswell's free-kick to turn it on to the post. That saved AFCB a few points for sure and if you added up how many points he has saved the club this season you start to see how important it is to have a top class keeper in the Championship. It surely helped Leicester and QPR and Bournemouth now have a keeper that is recognised as one of the best in this division.
Lee Camp continues to impress.
Had Lee been at AFCB for the full season I don't imagine that the club would have had 64 goals against and next season I hope he can reduce that figure significantly. Meanwhile, he still has a job to do against Forest and he will not like the fact that there has been no home match clean sheet since the Middlesbrough game in mid-March. It can be no surprise that the wins have slowed without the team keeping clean sheets.

It is never down to one man to keep a clean sheet, but Lee will be hoping his team mates give him few opportunities to have to shine on Saturday. They will know though that when called upon Lee is capable of keeping shots out that he has no right to save. I would say his best game showing that kind of ability came against Brighton at the Amex. It is that kind of performance that just may be required against Nottingham Forest.   

I have uploaded some match pictures to Cherry Chimes' Facebook page so if you want to check out the Blackburn Rovers and Millwall home games they can be found simply by searching Cherry Chimes on Facebook or by visiting Facebook via the mobile Cherry Chimes App.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ward and Daniels are consummate pros

Eddie Howe had no worries about putting Charlie Daniels and Elliott Ward straight back into the starting line up against Ipswich. The two players had been out for some time, but it was clear that some changes were likely considering that the team had not won in its last two games. I had thought that it might be Steve Cook who missed out after the Sheffield game but as always Steve played a blinder at Portman Road to back Eddie Howe's selection.
Charlie Daniels at Portman Road.
It was a bit of a surprise to see that Tommy Elphick would miss out, but he has had a bad back it appears and while he has had a good run in the team, Elliott Ward had been waiting patiently for several games. I felt that Elliott had another strong game, reading the play well and getting his body across Murphy and the ball frequently. To be fair Daryl Murphy hardly had a kick with Cook and Ward in his face all the time. 
Apparently the team coach was late to the game so the players lost
about 10 minutes warm up time before the Ipswich match.
Charlie Daniels supported Pugh admirably and while I don't think he crossed the ball as much as he can do, I expect Eddie Howe had given him warning not to push up all the time. As it was Ipswich were not that powerful on the break and if AFCB had just kept their heads better they could have won the game, as Eddie Howe pointed out in his post-match interview.

Elliott Ward fitted in excellently as if had been playing in the last five games.
Even when the team went to three at the back with Daniels coming off I could not see Ipswich scoring unless they has a set play. It is clear that Eddie now trusts his players to play whatever system he sees fit when the situation demands it, and with players able to play in different positions you can see that this team is continually improving. I hope that the home supporters can give them a big send off on Saturday against Nottingham Forest, because the work they have put in has been incredible this season and they are going to be an even more powerful team next season.

Ward and Daniels will be looking to hold on to their places against Nottingham Forest and it will be a real test to see if they can help the team get a clean sheet in the final home match. 
Elliott was on top form at Ipswich.

Our trip to Portman Road

Stephen and Robert catch up with Sir Bobby Robson.
We set out nice and early for Ipswich from Redhill at 9am because we had read that it was a special family down with a fun park and lots of things going on for the kids and adults around the ground from 11am. It did not take long to go around the M25 and under the Dartford Tunnel before heading up the A12. A quick stop at the services just outside Colchester was the only brief break and by 11am we were driving up to the ground and chose to park in the car park opposite the ground for £4.60 all day parking.
Peter  stands at the feet of the great man.
Robert immediately spotted a statue in front of the main stand and we headed over to take our picture with Sir Bobby Robson. We then decided that we should walk around the ground having seen the family entertainment event around the back of the stadium. It took a fair while to visit all four corners of the ground and we took a few photos as we went on our way round.

When we found the family fun area, Robert and Stephen headed straight for the bouncy castles and they were pleased to receive their Ipswich gift pack mainly because it contained a cream egg! While I took the extra goodies back to the car the boys found a few more things to play on. Robert and I had a go at the Bucking Bronco and  Stephen decided a human table football game was more for him. Robert and I also had a go at shooting balls into the pockets at the penalty shoot out and sadly I have to say we scored no points from six shots! Still more cream eggs were handed out so I don't think the boys minded too much.
Robert hangs on.
See, I stayed on for at least 20 seconds.
Robert goes close to scoring.
Oh no - Cherry Chimes keep him off the pitch!
Stephen decides to play goalie.
Enjoying the sun - not sure why Robert has his hood up?
We then headed off to town to get something to eat and we chatted to a few Ipswich fans who were more concerned with who we were playing next than anything else. When I said Forest and Millwall they winced, but I said I was rather looking forward to the remaining games. Somehow I don't think Burnley will do Ipswich any favours when they play them.

Robert with Sir Alf Ramsey.
Once we had taken some more pictures with Sir Alf Ramsey''s statue and visited the club shop which was opposite the statue on the corner of Portman Road we decided to head for our gate. Our gate 14 was of course closed, so we had to go in via gate 15. We were not searched that vigorously and soon found ourselves in the Family Lower Tier of the away stand. The main AFCB fans were directly above us and had paid almost double the price for the privilege! At least they had a roof although it did not cloud over until late on.

I started taking photos and was of course approached by not one but two stewards who must have thought I'd never been to a Championship match with a camera before as they informed me as usual that no pictures were to be taken during the game. I think I would have about £20 this season if I had collected a quid every time a steward said that to me - I guess they don't have much to do and it makes them feel important.

There are more photos of the AFCB supporters on Match Day Gallery.

Gate found.
Ipswich players came out with 40 minutes or more before kick off, but AFCB's players left it until 30 minutes to go which was a bit later than usual. I chatted to Steve Cook AFCB's official photographer for a bit before letting him get on with his work. We had brought three blow up bananas and they were inflated just before kick off and I gave one to a lad whose family I often see in the family stand. His brother Matt was a mascot for the day.

Is someone facing the wrong way?
Talking of Mascot's we all gave Cherry Bear a high five as he passed us by and he was joined by several other mascots who lined up to have a sprint over half of the pitch before kick off. Cherry Bear did not disgrace AFCB finishing second in a photo finish to Nando's macot. Better luck next time! A short video of the race is on Robert and Stephen's corner - I wasn't that well positioned though to get a great view.

The game itself was very enjoyable to watch as the sun was shining for most of it and AFCB were playing particularly well, until Ipswich went and spoilt things by scoring. It was right to the side of where we were seated and we couldn't believe how easy it was for the ball to come right across the Bournemouth box leaving a virtual tap in for Anderson. But the team recovered well and the Ipswich crowd were soon silenced when Cookie put away his acrobatic overhead kick to level things up.
Team photo.
Double huddle.
I had a sneaky feeling that the game would be a draw and while Ipswich went ahead I couldn't see them holding on to their lead which they took again from a set-piece. Sure enough Matt Ritchie pulled things back to 2-2 from a free kick with just 10 minutes remaining. While a draw was probably better for Ipswich than for the Cherries we were pleased that the team had played so well and just about kept their play-off hopes alive for another week.

As we made our way out and found our car we had to endure about a 40 minute slow escape from the parking space to the A12 but we soon got going once we had made it to the town's outskirts. It was a great day and well worth the drive up to Suffolk. Now we have one last away day at the Den to go.
See you soon fellas.
All Departments has released Kangaroo Court Easter Round up - visit All Departments' website or scroll down the right hand panel of Cherry Chimes to find the podcast.