Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Artur Boruc can afford a smile when he greets Asmir Begovic

The signing of Asmir Begovic will certainly add some competition for Arter Boruc in AFCB's goal. The two keepers come together having had shared an incident when Asmir played for Stoke City and Artur was in goal for Southampton in 2013, when Asmir managed to score by kicking the ball the length of the pitch. It was a fluke of course, but I wonder if the goalkeeping union allows Artur Boruc to have forgiven and forgotten about such a goal?
Asmir Begovic at Dean Court for Chelsea.
Artur Boruc won player of the season at AFCB this year so he will start as favourite to retain the No1 shirt and knowing that he is up against Asmir Begivic will probably give him even more incentive to stay ahead of the Bosnian. It was windy that day and Boruc saw the funny side of it, but I guess at least if Asmir is on the same side as Artur he won't put too many more past him unless it is in training.

Asmir Begovic had a short loan spell for the Cherries in 2007 when he was a Portsmouth player, but it was at Stoke City where he really made his name and got the transfer to Chelsea. Two years with just 19 appearances for the Stamford Bridge Champions and he will feel that he has been almost out of the game in the last two seasons. Now he has a challenge where he can get games if Boruc is not fully on top of his game or if the Polish keeper has any more back troubles. Asmir may even feel he can play better than Boruc this summer and snatch the shirt away from Boruc.


AFCB needed a keeper to push Boruc. We have seen Boruc up his game this season but with Begovic also pushing we may see the goals against column coming down. It will probably take Begovic a while to get used to the AFCB style at the back, but I have no doubt that Begovic is a top keeper and he is a super addition to the team.

The price-tag of £10m is a tad high for a keeper that hasn't played much in the last two seasons but it isn't easy to pick up a full international keeper at 29-years-old for much less. The experience that he'll also bring will no doubt help the back four and give them a different perspective on some things and how to position themselves for set-pieces.

In other news, it is great to see that AFCB are making efforts to be Premier League compliant regarding the disability access and seating with some major changes this summer to Dean Court.

Cherry Chimes' June Newsletter brings you the best stories on the blog and the thoughts behind them from last month. It's out tomorrow with special story- What's our season's rating for Eddie Howe?

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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Lewis Grabban sees loan end disappointingly with Reading

Lewis Grabban joined up with Yann Kermorgant to walk out at Wembley yesterday. It was a massive occasion being the Championship play-off final and hopes were high that another southern-based club could join AFCB in the Premier League. But it was Huddersfield Town that came out on top after a penalty shoot out which leaves Reading back in the Championship after a fourth play-off final defeat in a row, and Lewis Grabban will be treading the road back to AFCB with two years still left on his contract.
Lewis Grabban could find his stay at AFCB limited.
So what next for Lewis? Eddie Howe brought him back from Norwich City in January 2016 but Lewis failed to make an impact in the squad and a loan move to Reading a year later appeared to be a way out for him, and yet another chance to get promoted with a Championship club. On the day though, Yann Kermorgant and Lewis Grabban had fairly few opportunities. Grabban had the best shot from outside the box for Reading in the first half, but the former AFCB strikers had little to grasp hold of during the match and Grabban was subbed before the penalties arrived. Yann Kermorgant scored the first penalty for Reading, but it was not to be the Royals day.


Lewis will know that AFCB will not stand still, having had a ninth place finish, and he is probably seen as a very likely candidate to be offered in either a swap deal or simply offloaded by the Cherries, if they want to strengthen their attacking options with new players. Grabban scored three goals in 16 appearances for Reading and was looking more like his old-self at Wembley, even if he did not get the breaks.

The Premier League is cut-throat though. Josh King has shown how you need to take your game forward and Grabban may well have run out of time to enter into any long term thoughts of the manager. It is unlucky that Reading did not get promotion as they may well have been interested in Lewis, if AFCB were willing to cut his price a bit, but now Lewis may be looking to find another Championship club if there are any takers.

In other news, Asmir Begovic is expected to sign for the Cherries this week after his medical, says the Daily Star.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Jordan Ibe has lots of work to do

It was great to see that Jordan Ibe was able to play for a few minutes against Leicester at the end of the season, but from his demeanour all did not look quite right with him to me. This was not the energetic excited youngster that came to Bournemouth at the start of last season, but a man who has perhaps been shaken and still isn't quite producing what he must know he has in his talent.
It's not all gone right so far for Jordan Ibe,
but I still believe he can be the star of this AFCB side.

Eddie Howe asked fans to be patient with Jordan, and I can understand why when he had to be taken out of the firing line for a few games and having been held up in London at knifepoint. Sometimes there are things happening outside of football that have an impact on it, and I can only hope that we get the fearless Jordan who wanted to express himself reemerging over the summer. The game is not easy when you uproot and start afresh in a new town. You just want to concentrate on the football.

Broom Hill Garden Buildings

Jordan looked half as quick and his touch was some way behind what we would see with a fit Junior Stanislas or Ryan Fraser. I am sure that Ibe is trying to battle with himself as much as anything, and I hope fans can give him some space as there was no damage done last season - AFCB didn't go down. Moreover, players who hadn't played many Premier League games got to experience match day with Ibe missing out on some games. 

How do we rate Jordan though? It should not just be on a goal count as we can say that Jack Wilshere didn't score a goal either this season. I wanted to see Ibe beat his wing back and get crosses in the box, but he has been failing to beat the first man of late. He has no assists from 26 appearances and 12 of those were as a sub. I simply think Ibe is work very much in progress. He needs to get fully fit and come back to the game with some enjoyment and a clear head at the start of next season. He needs that first goal or assist to get some confidence, and while we know what the likes of Fraser, Pugh and Stanislas are going to give you, we never quite know what the level of performance will be from Ibe. 

Eddie and Jason will look at what is best for Jordan to help him on the pitch. But I get the feeling that the drive must come from Jordan himself. Leaving Liverpool would have seemed a wrench for a while, losing the potential to be at a top four club, but he can flourish in a smaller ground with fans that want to see him do well. He only needs to look at how Wilfred Zaha has improved at Palace, after leaving Man Utd, to know that you can make legendary comebacks. I  have no qualms about players being dropped when they are not performing well, but Ibe I fear really needs a great game this summer on the club tour just to start moving forward again. All the best Jordan!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

It's scary how far the club has come

Ryan Allsop made the comment that it was "Scary how far the club has come. He has been at the club since its days in League One and while he has not played as much in recent seasons, he has managed to keep the manager's favour to have his contract renewed. He might have felt a bit in the shadows, but Ryan plays an important role in training and supporting his team-mates, and is one of the players who know it is incredible what the club has achieved so far.
Ryan Allsop has done well just to stay with AFCB as it has moved up the leagues.
I am currently in Canada as I write this blog and even here there is every bar showing highlights of the European football matches and following transfer news for the English Premier League as it unfolds. The Cherries may not get the air time of other clubs in the division abroad, but there are people here who certainly know of Eddie Howe and AFC Bournemouth. 

The essence of any club is in the players that go and train weekly and go out on to the pitch and perform and we have seen our players excel again, season on season which makes it hard for us to remember now when the club made a backward step. There have been mistakes, but the general progression of the club is still heading upwards, and I am actually surprised that more players have not been left behind as signposts on a trail of footballers that didn't quite manage to keep pace with the regime at AFCB. Yet, AFCB's squad has not been significantly trimmed in recent seasons and as the payments go up there is every likelihood that the Cherries will be able to make decisions on keeping one or two more players that it might have shed in previous seasons, at least in the U21 squad as they can probably afford to do it.

Rather than worrying how the next bill will be paid, the focus is on the pitch and delivering the best teams. This has already manifested itself in trying to keep hold of the players that got the club to this lofty status and I see Steve Cook has committed his future to the club until the summer of 2021 by which time he could well be captaining the side in Europe and in a new stadium. How times are changing! UTCIAD!

In other news. Frankie Vincent signs for AFCB's U21s

Saturday, 27 May 2017

AFCB act fast to ensure there's no interest in Steve Cook

On 25 May there was a bit of a surprise that Steve Cook had signed a new 4-year deal as he had only signed a new contract last year. It would seem that there was more than a bit of interest in the central defender, with WBA and Everton supposed to be among the sides tracking him. Yet, Steve Cook played so well during 2016/17 that he probably earned a new contract on better terms in any case.
Steve Cook has decided he is staying at AFCB long term.
The fact that AFCB's players are now being chased by other Premier League clubs is an indication that the side is making good progress. Success has come fast though and Eddie Howe and AFCB need to ensure that some of their prized assets are not lured away from the south coast as other sides bolster their squads. AFCB certainly did not hang about in getting down to contract negotiations with Steve and we may see a few more in the coming weeks. 

Whether AFCB's policy of handing out long-term contracts are the best way to go about keeping the squad together is probably proved correct in that only Matt Ritchie's decision to leave last summer is something that didn't sit so well with AFCB, even if he did command a good transfer fee. The ability for AFCB to keep hold of their best players will surely be tested though this summer and if the club didn't make good offers, heads would soon turn to other clubs who are wiling to spend the cash.


It's probable that AFCB will face more competition from the newly promoted clubs perhaps than the top four or five. Newcastle certainly look admiringly at Bournemouth players and some of the Cherries players that don't play so regularly would no doubt come into the spending range of clubs like Brighton and whichever club wins the Championship play-off.

Stripping away the likes of Josh King and Steve Cook though would be a big blow and at least supporters of the Cherries know that one is already safely in the bag.

In other news, England's U21 top Group A but there's no minutes for AFCB's Lewis Cook against South Korea, see ESPNFC.

Friday, 26 May 2017

AFCB have momentum going into next season

It was a great finish to the end of the 2016/17 season for AFCB not only because of their high finish but simply because they were on another unbeaten run that continues next August. There are clubs that have been on longer runs of course but the Cherries are learning about getting through tough period now, when they don't see things going their way and rather than being overly concerned with what the opposition do, there is more emphasis on making sure AFCB play to their strengths and have the possession to cause the opposition problems.
AFCB will look to keep the wins coming going into the
start of next season, and no doubt with some new signings.
The ethos that Howe is setting out has been working in the wider consideration of getting the club to find consistency on the pitch. When they do come up against a Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal - like the rest of the league - they know they are going to have periods of the game when they are on the back foot. While the goals have been as high as they were last season against AFCB, I don't see that they have received to many heavy defeats from the big guns. In fact, it was only Everton away that was a real headache for Eddie Howe. The team didn't recover that day from the blistering start that Everton made or should I just say that Romelo Lukaku made? Now and again you come up against individual brilliance and it was AFCB's bad fortune that they caught Everton on a good day for the hosts.

As for going into next season with confidence, I do feel AFCB will be feeling much stronger and ready for the challenge. The home form certainly improved in this second season and I think it is important for clubs to win their home games in front of their fans. You need those foundations and AFCB's closing series of home matches reads very well going back to the home defeats by Chelsea and Man City. The seven points form home and away games in March and the eight points in April basically settled any squabbles over whether AFCB would be in the Premier League next season.

The summer training and pre-season matches will also be important and while a match against QPR has already been added to the programme, it is likely to be another mixed bag of teams in terms of their pedigree that AFCB will be playing and trying to keep the momentum going in during July, before the new season kicks off. 

In other news,  Ian Harte, speaking exclusively to 888sport

Harte on… Jermain Defoe
Just look at what he’s done this season and the amount of goals that he’s scored. With the style of football Bournemouth play with creative midfielders always looking to pierce the lines and slide the ball in he could be amazing for them. They also have Callum Wilson and Josh King – if he stays now – but Defoe has been there and done it throughout his career. He started out as a young lad at Bournemouth and it would be great to see him back in the shirt.

Read the full 888sport interview with Ian Harte, including his thoughts on Bournemouth’s pursuit of John Terry.

AFCB went into the last game with real focus

I was impressed with the way the team went at it against Leicester City, even with an AFCB side that was slightly reduced in experience from a normal Premier League game. It was a big call to start with Andrew Surman and Dan Gosling ,in central midfield with, them both coming back from injuries at the same time, and to play Ryan Gosling in goal and to keep Josh King out of the starting line up was not what was expected.
Matt Worthington No58 alongside Sam Surridge No44 at Leicester.
Eddie Howe probably really didn't want to make a lot of changes, but he couldn't have played too many unfit players. Still, it was a gamble to take the players he did to Leicester that and it must be pleasing for the players that did play that they knew the standards they had to get to. AFCB's focus was clearly to  establish an early lead, while keeping Mahrez and Vardy starved of possession.

It might have worked too, had Leicester not been so resilient and knowledgeable that AFCB really needed the season to end with their injuries mounting. But Leicester came on very strong in the second half, and it was fortunate that Islam Slimani was just having a bad day in front of gal. The chance to give Matt Worthington into the action, I would suggest, was more forced on Eddie Howe than any inspired desire to play any youngsters. The lads focus was on making this feel like any other game though for Matt.

AFCB as a whole had to try and cling on tho their advantage, but the goal they conceded actually stimulated them into coming forward again. Looking at the goal's conceded this season, which was the same as last season in the end (67), I'd say that it was another game where AFCB found themselves in that awkward position, as to whether to commit more men forward or not at times. 

Once the games was level though it really became any one's match. This is where the real progress in the side is seen, in it's ability to pull themselves out of difficult situations. Going all-square gave AFCB a determination and more impetuous not to lose, and they did the chasing down well enough that Jordan Ibe might even have won it.

In other news Steve Cook signs a contract extension to the summer of 2021. The Bournemouth Echo also reports that the AFCB U21 have signed central midfielder Frankie Vincent a former Barnet player on a one-year deal.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Allsop really had a big test at Leicester

Ryan has had a waiting room watch of a season. He has seen Adam Federci fall out of the squad with a knee injury and has still played second fiddle to Artur Boruc in goal on most match days. But he finally got his chance to play in front of a big crowd at the King Power stadium and apparently he had played their before for AFCB against Leicester in the Championship.
Allsop has to keep working hard to catch up with the keepers ahead of him at AFCB.
The day must have been quite a shock for Ryan, as he stepped on the bus expecting Artur Boruc to be there. As he wasn’t, he soon gathered that he was number one on this trip and that he would be guarding the goal for Bournemouth. While he set about his preparations as normal, it must be exciting to know that you are finally going to be playing for 90 minutes in a Premier League match and it was a credit to Ryan that he had a fairly good game. He might not have known that much about the save he made from Islam Slimani in the first half when the ball was headed right at him, but it showed his positioning sense was okay and he built his confidence up from there.

There were some errant goal kicks, but Ryan did not disappoint on the day and made an excellent dash for the ball before Mahrez in the first half that could have been been a problem, if he was not more alert. I still feel that Allsop gets nervous when he is called into action and that he need to try and dominate his goal more in coming for crosses and imposing himself on the opposition forwards, but he is not shying away from the possibility of impact or thinking of anything other than getting the ball, when it is flying around the box, which is good to see.

I wonder what the conversations are like between Eddie and Ryan as to whether he can eventually get the number one spot at the club, as we know that Asmir Begovic is a target for AFCB this summer. Unless Frederici moves on this would put Ryan further down the pecking order so it is important that he plays well and makes the most of his chance to play as he did at Leicester. While he did not have much of a hope of stopping the Leicester goal he did try and get back to Vardy which kind of gives me belief that Ryan is stepping up his game and could yet become an asset. Eddie Howe certainly has continued to believe in him and I expect him to be in the squad next season, but as a third choice keeper Allsop needs to believe in himself that he can be a Premier League keeper for AFCB if he is going to move Boruc and Federici from the top spots.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Defoe would add some 15 goals or more to AFCB

There has been open coverage on the possibility of Jermain Defoe coming to Bournemouth and the Daily Mail is convinced that Jermain will be offered a three-year deal at 34 for a 85,000 contract at the Cherries. It seems astronomical money for a 34-year-old, but when that comes with a guarantee of 15 goals, and no transfer fee, is it really a move that the Cherries can look away from?
Jermain would make an impact if he joined AFCB.
All the initiations appear to be coming from the Cherries on this story and the press are fairly certain a deal is being done. Defoe as an ex-player is bound to feel some connection with AFCB but is it enough for him to sigh? I would be surprised if many of their Premier League clubs would offer a three tear deal, but you know you are getting quality with Defoe. He hits the target and that is something that has been often missing in the Cherries play.

I can see Defoe running off of King and getting into advanced position to punish teams, but it will not be good news for Callum Wilson or Lys Mousset if AFCB bring in a top- quality striker. AFCB need to add that experience and guile though to push the club on to a higher finish and while Defoe is getting older, his sharpness in front of goal has not diminished and he is always looking to shoot.

While the signing of a 34-year-old seems a risk for any club, the proof of just how good Jermain is, in a struggling team like Sunderland, is testament to what a good player he is. His 15 goals for Sunderland show just what he can do for a relegated side, but imagine what he could do with the supply from AFCB 's players. It's just, a three-year deal seems a tad excessive. AFCB should look to a one-year deal with possibility to renew, if they are to keep players who come to the club wanting to do their best to see out their careers. AFCB can't reward for past performances. They need someone that can deliver right now, but that is exactly what makes Defoe a viable striking candidate despite know he is comingto the end of his career.

Cherries on the move - three U21's are released by AFCB Callum Buckley, Jake McCarthy and Matt Neale.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Ninth is something to be celebrated

There are few indications at the start of the season to really gauge where your team is going to finish if you are not a regular tip four team. AFCB stated their last campaign with the simple intention of improving on their first Premier League season and they managed that with a degree of comfort in the end.
AFCB's best ever league position was won through hard
work and real desire to beat all previous club records. 
It is not just the number of 9th that will please the owners and Eddie Howe, it is the team that finished below them – the Stokes, West Brom's and West Ham's who are seen as established sides in the division who could not match what the Cherries did in the end. While AFCB are not seen as a big club, there will be a few regular columnists who will see AFC in a different light now. They have finished in the top half and there are only a few positions now between the middle placed teams and the European competitions. It seems strange that Simon Francis should even be talking about Europe in the same sentence as AFCB but the Cherries will now see that as a realistic possibility of they can sign the right players over the summer and kick on again.


While AFC are seen as an attacking team it is important to note that they let in 57 goals, exactly the same as last season while scoring 10 more goals than in 2015/16. That meant a finish of seven places higher, but how many places could the Cherries grab if they cut the goals against by 10 goals? That is where it is that Eddie Howe should be looking but to replace the likes of Daniels. Cook, Francis and Adam Smith would loose something of the power of the team going forward.

We all want to see new attackers at the club, but to progress to the next level it is most likely that the defence is where Eddie Howe needs to strengthen his options and yet it is an area where he has been least willing to reinforce the squad. Perhaps that might change with the coming weeks as the stats point to this clearly as the barrier that is stopping AFCB from climbing even higher in the league.