Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Is it just intensity of play that AFCB lack?

Diagnosing what has gone wrong in the last two games is something that Eddie Howe and his team will be working hard to find out. Match of the Day 2 suggested that the intensity in the Cherries' play from last season has somewhat diminished and that they are not running as hard as they were against teams. Yet, I don't believe the answer is quite as simple as that.

While the stats may show a change in the passing and running numbers, I am more concerned with how the players are feeling and what they want out of this season. It was simple last season - survival was the clear object, but that gave them very high desire as if climbing a mountain. Now I am not sure if this group is yet to find its identity in what it is setting out to achieve. Survival is one thing but most of the group have done that before. Now it must be about improvement and yet the side has already lost two games against sides that it beat in the corresponding fixtures last season. It's not going to be easy but the players must set themselves new challenges.

Is staying up enough motivation? No one wants a relegation scrap.
The first challenge is to get some points on the board. It doesn't matter who the points come against but the side needs a pick up. The Morecambe match offers an opportunity to get the winning feeling, but even they are top of League Two and the side Eddie puts out is likely to be very different from the starting line up against Crystal Palace. The next two Premier League games are massive in AFCB's season as they are winnable games and they can't afford to loose more ground.

Playing with more intensity may have more risk attached to it in trying to win the game quickly, but we did see signs of the players trying to get off to a quick start against West Ham. The play on the wings has been more ponderous and Adam Smith and Jordan Ibe have to fast-track their learning of how each other likes to play on the right side, while Daniels has already had two different partners starting in front of him on the left in King and Fraser and Gradel also used as a sub against Man Utd. The side isn't settled yet and it may take a few more painful lessons before things settle down.

I have faith in Eddie and Jason though to work out why the side has been below its high standard of play we have come to love. In trying not to lose though AFCB might have lost a bit of zest in its play and while Man Utd and West Ham were seen as difficult sides to play, they were also nervous about the start of the season and the Hammers had many good players not even playing. What Eddie Howe needs is something to ignite the next performance - just a moment of brilliance from one player could do the trick. Keep the faith UTCIAD!

AFCB's U21 lose to Burnley 3-2 in Premier League Cup.

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