Filed: Monday, 11th January 2016
By: Preview Percy
It's been a sad few days hasn't it? Lemmy, Stewpot and now Bowie are no longer with us. Even sadder, Preview Percy shows no sign of leaving us any time soon......
The games are coming so thick and fast that that FA Cup match with Wolves hasn’t finished yet and already we are down to play Bournemouth. Kick-off is 7.45 pm down at what I shall continue to refer to as Dean Court because I know no better. If you have to work for a living good luck with getting down there on time. And back in time for work in the morning. I did ask for August Bank Holiday weekend but they ignored me.
It seems odd to be talking about the Cherries in terms of relegation, even though they were high on most pundits’ lists for an early return whence they came. The general impression one gets is that they have been doing ok, despite the loss of a number of key players to long term injury. However, they do need to keep an eye over their shoulders. They’re in 16th spot with 21 points from 20 games, which is two places and four points above Newcastle. They are separated from the Geordies by Swansea over whom they hold a two point advantage. For the record they are six points clear of Sunderland. Villa? Let’s not intrude on private grief just now shall we.
The fact that they are out of the drop zone is thanks in no small way to a half decent December in which they won three in a row a 2-1 home win over Moan Utd being sandwiched by away wins at Chelsea (1-0) and West Brom (2-1). It’s been a bit mixed since then however. They’ve picked up two points out of the last possible 9 going down 2-0 at Arsenal and drawing 0-0 at both Palace and Leicester, whose goal drought annoyingly seems to have coincided with my drawing them out of the hat in the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s Pontoon draw.
In the cup this weekend they had to ride their luck to beat Birmingham, who had taken a 1-0 lead at St Andrews and missed a penalty and hit the post at 1-1. Murray eventually scrambled a late winner after a goalkeeping error. Murray’s goal at St Andrews made him joint top scorer with five goals, of which three have come in the league.
Those predicting relegation for Bournemouth at the start of the season were usually pointing at a perceived lack of depth in the squad. Long term injuries to Max Gradel, then record signing Tyrone Mings, Calum Wilson (who scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture) and Josh King did not bode well. Wilson is still one of the joint top scorers, and he ain’t going to be adding to that total any time soon. However, those who came in have held their own, notwithstanding what even some of their best friends would agree is their “journeyman” status.
Typical of those who have stood up to be counted in recent weeks is Felix, some say “Junior” Stanislas. Stanislas was an Academy graduate at the Boleyn of course but was always something of a fringe player, even under Avram Grant who frankly probably didn’t have a clue who he was picking anyway. The arrival of Allardyce meant Stanislas’s days were numbered whereupon, along with Zavon Hines (as in “whatever happened to….”) he pitched up at Burnley, where he first encountered Eddie Howe. In 2014 he re-joined his former Burnley boss who had, by that time, returned to Bournemouth. However since then game time has been a bit on the sparse time until. The turning point came in November when he picked up a brace to earn the Cherries a 3-3 draw against Everton. He was also on target against the Salford whingers, netting direct from a corner in the 2-1 win at Dean Court. He’s featured regularly since then, despite picking up a sore hamstring before Christmas. He is another of the three joint top scorers, like Murray three of his five goals have been in the league.
Howe, whose picture in the attic must be getting ridiculously old these days, is no fool of course. His deceptively youthful appearance and laid-back air bely an underlying shrewdness and, as well as some of his second choices have done he no doubt realises that trying to stay up with what he has might be a bit of a gamble. Which is why they have brought in striker Juan Iturbe on loan from Roma. It’s certainly a sign of the times when Bournemouth can sign players from Roma I suppose.
Iturbe’s had a strange transfer history in the past. He joined Verona on loan from Porto for the 2013/14May 2014 for a permanent deal. As long as you don’t look too closely at that word “permanent”. The ink was still wet on his Verona contract when, less than a month after unpacking his bags, Roma bought him for €22m, with a further €2.5m going in potential add-ons. He's has been capped at age-group level by Paraguay but has now decided he’s Argentinian after all and his last 13 U20 appearances have all been in Argentina’s blue and white stripes, rather than the red and white of the Paraguayans. Iturbe has, at the time of writing, yet to make his debut for the Cherries, his lack of full international caps for either country meaning that a work permit hearing will be required before he is allowed to earn a crust.
They’ll be hoping to get a bit more out of their new record signing than they did out of the last one. The aforementioned injury to Mings came within six minutes of his Cherries debut having signed from Ipswich for £8m. The new record signing arrived only this very weekend in the form of striker Benik Afobe who, according to a Wolves club statement, has wanted out of Molineux ever since they turned down a “substantial” bid for the player from an un-named Premier League club. The fee is undisclosed, which means that everyone knows it’s £10m. Well everyone except the BBC it seems, who insisted that the player had signed in a £10 deal, or at least they did until they corrected the website.
Barring injury Ireland international Harry Arter will be an attacking focus in their midfield. Arter featured in their win at Stamford Bridge last month, playing despite the death of his daughter at birth a few days previously, which puts things into perspective obviously. Arter is the brother-in-law of none other than Scott Parker, who is married to Arter’s sister. We bring you all the important stuff here you know. Arter started off over at Charlton but made just the one League Cup sub appearance before dropping into non-League football with Woking. He did well enough in that season to attract the attention of league clubs and signed for the Cherries for a tribunal-agreed fee back in 2010. He’s been part of two promotions and got the Supporters’ Player of The Season last term.
And what of the weekend just gone? Louis Van Gaal blamed the traffic for there being so few ignorant tourists left in the Theatre Of Cheats to see his divers con their way into the next round of the cup. Not that they’d have been embarrassed had they stayed – Like their scouse counterparts their support are past masters at rationalising the blatant flouting of the laws of the game they get away with. The only saving grace was that it knocked out Sheffield United, another club whose indignation at all that is wrong with the game goes out of the window when you point out their own shortcomings. There were few shocks. Liverpool and Villa holding Exeter and Wycombe surprised many whilst Oxford’s defeat of Swansea raised more of a “meh” than a “wow”.
Our match wasn’t one to write home about, though Jelavic’s goal was beautifully taken. Up to that point he’d looked about as likely to score as Lawrenson is to get one or our predictions correct and, let’s be honest, there were few in the ground who thought he was still worthy of a place on the pitch up to the point he scored.
Still patience is a virtue and there were useful runouts for a few of the injury returns as well as some valuable game time for those usually on the bench and we were patient enough to bide our time to get through to the next round where Exeter or Liverpool await. Part of me wants Liverpool but Exeter would probably give us more of a game.
There are no new injury problems following the weekend’s efforts and Kouyate and Valencia, who were left out to protect minor knocks, should also come into contention. Reid’s return gives Mr Bilic a nice selection problem at the back, where Collins’ recent outstanding form and the fact that Tomkins now seems to have been entrusted with the right-back position means that it’s a case of perm any two out of Reid, Collins and Ogbonna, none of whom have done anything wrong to be left out.
Prediction? Well they have been a bit goal shy of late and much will depend how much Afobe and, to a certain extent Iturbe, are involved. They won’t have had much training with their team mates and, in the case of the ex-Wolves man I’m sure the backroom boys will already have done some homework. For our part, we’ll presumably have the big guns rested for the start of Saturday’s match raring to go from the start.
Assuming the Dr Jekyll side that has been in evidence of late turns up, as opposed to the Mr Hyde outfit that appeared in the reverse fixture (we actually had more players have off days in that match than were actually on the books at the time) I have an optimistic feeling about this one. I shall therefore pop down to Winstones The Turf Accountant with the £2.50 I had earmarked to buy those Moan Utd supporters a satnav to help get them home to Torquay at a decent hour without having to leave five minutes after the toss up and I shall be entering into a wager for us to prevail 2-1.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met At Dean Court: Drew 1-1 (Division 2 November 1989) How many of these do you remember? Parkes, Potts, Dicks, Martin, Strodder, Brady, Keen, Allen (M), Parris, Slater, Dolan. Sub (just the one!) Ward. Gary Strodder was on target for us but online details of the match are a bit sketchy to say the least! Bournemouth were relegated to the third tier at the end of that season along with Bradford and Stoke. Two of the three teams relegated are therefore now in the Premier League, which probably signifies something important if I could be arsed to work out exactly what it was.
Referee: Martin Atkinson I’m trying desperately to find out when they passed that law that says we have to have Atkinson every other week.
Danger Man: Junior Stanislas – In a decent run of form and the law of the ex dictates that he will cause problems.
Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: : I really struggled with Bournemouth last time out, so much so that the gong went to somebody called Jayne Middlemiss despite nobody knowing who she is. This time, in a barrel-scraping exercise not unlike Van Gaal’s desperate attempts to blame everyone but himself for his team’s shortcomings, I’m going to resurrect the spectre of someone who may not actually support them anymore. Someone who was barely off our screens for some time years ago despite being about as funny as a scouse comedian. Someone who was actually a director of the club back in the 1980’s. I give you Jim “nick nick” Davidson. Whatever happened to him? – no don’t bother, it was a rhetorical question.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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