Monday, 9 January 2017

Disjointed Cherries find Cup games beyond them

I was impressed by the number of Bournemouth fans in the stands at the New Den. It was clear to me that those that had travelled from the south coast wanted to see some of the fringe players and they wanted to see a good performance. So it was hard to be satisfied with the lack of cohesion n the team's play on the day at Millwall and the quick cup exit.

Some have commented that Eddie should have used a strong spine in the team - perhaps Callum Wilson, Arter and Steve Cook in the line up from the start. Yet, he was right to believe that Grabban, Surman and Marc Wilson were not inexperienced and should have been able to form a reasonable strength to the side to get at a League One side. Eddie felt it was not that such players hadn't played in the Premier League but that the11 had not played together before and the intricacies of building up relationships between pairs of players was something that was lacking on the day. I can understand this to some extent, but with the amount of training that AFCB's players do as a squad I'll bet that Howe was shocked at how disjointed they were playing away from home. If that side had played Millwall at home it might have been a different outcome, but without much familiarity of the players in the team and the surroundings it was a punt on behalf of Eddie to rest so many players.
AFCB's players at Millwall during the warm up.
We can call it a 'Howe-ler' of a decision in hindsight, but I had expected many changes to the team that needed a recovery pill after losing a three-goal head start against Arsenal. I was told by a fan that all this will be forgotten if the boys go and get a win against Hull City next week, but I don't think it will be forgotten. For two years now we have seen a very weakened side fielded in the Cups and it has resulted with lost opportunities as far as those competitions are concerned even if the Premier League status has been preserved - well I'm not counting this season just yet. That's the point though for Eddie. He knows that 10 points can soon be picked up by a team looking to escape the bottom three and AFCB don't need the panic of having to fight off a late relegation battle. For that reason he rested players in the cup. But if AFCB lose to Hull City, Watford and Palace in the coming weeks it won't have served the team will to have rested players for these games. As soon as AFCB were to play Sunderland and Middlesbrough the fans had already been counting the points and yet this league is not like that.


The insurance policy of keeping AFCB high up the table comes at a price. For those supporters who travelled to Millwall they will now have little desire to be first in the phone queue next season for the cup games, if they are told it is going to be more of the same. I'm hoping this is a turning point when AFCB decide we have to look at the competition as a cup that is winnable. Respect for the cup and playing a strong side does not guarantee progression, but if Millwall had beaten three-quarter's of AFCB's Premier League side in the match, there would be less of a feeling of being sold down the river to watch a side that surely tired, but was not the best that could have been fielded.

The demands of the Premier League have won out again. But don't think this is forgotten as next season a similar prospect will arrive when the cup games come around and the club has to find more players that can stand up in such games if they really want to continue changing 11 players before gong into a cup game.

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