Thursday, 26 January 2017

Gradel has to get his head down at AFCB

Max Gradel has been sent back to the Cherries a bit earlier than he might have hoped. Africa Cup of Nation's defeat for Cote d'Ivorie to Morocco by 1-0 spelt the end of Max's tournament and his team's defence of the title, so he is now said to be expected to be available for next week's AFCB Premier League game against Crystal Palace.

It might seem a big blow to Max that he hasn't played more international football. Even as Cote d'Ivorie went out, he only played for six minutes of normal time against Morocco in what would turn out to be his side's final tournament match, coming on for Frank Kessie as the champions chased the game. 
Max has hardly played for AFCB this season.
Now Max has to be fully focused on his AFCB role. He may be a talking point for other clubs, but it is more likely to be in the summer window when his future is under a lot of discussion. Eddie Howe has said that he will be speaking to Max about his future and I imagine the report may read something like 'could do better'. To be fair to Max though, he hasn't had a run of games to impress the manager. He only excited for a brief moment for me against Morecambe, in the early season League Cup match AFCB played. He has only made five appearances this season for AFCB and all have been as sub.  

While many fans won't have had Max as their first choice regular starter this season, on the left side, I did expect him to be forcing his way straight into the team. Instead, Ryan Fraser has jumped ahead of him and one or two others. If Ryan can do that it is going to be a question in Eddie Howe's mind of whether Max is a player that he should hold on to

It's down to Max really as to what he wants, but if it is to be more successful at the Cherries he has to up his game substantially. Eddie Howe knows exactly how good he can be, and so there is nowhere for Max to hide. He has more natural talent than many members of the squad, but if we don't see it, there's others who will stay ahead of him in the pecking order.

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