After their shock win over Liverpool at the weekend, can Bournemouth avoid the drop straight back down to the Championship? This article examines the reasons for optimism.
Takeover and January transfer window
Taking the positives firstly, it is safe to say that Bournemouth had a theoretically very successful transfer window. A number of major additions to the squad made, aided by the recent takeover by Bill Foley. The American businessman promised to invest in the playing squad, and he was certainly true to his word in that respect.
One of the major additions to the squad since Foley’s arrival was Burkina Faso international Dango Ouattara from Lorient. The pacy winger notched up an impressive 12 goal contributions in just 18 Ligue 1 games prior to his arrival. He already has three assists in only seven Premier League games for his new side. He is showing the creativity that he provides, despite the fact he is still adapting to his new surroundings.
Another intriguing and perhaps surprising signing, was Ivory Coast international Hamed Junior Traoré. The 23-year-old came in on loan from Italian side Sassuolo with an obligation to buy. Traoré’s stats might not look particularly impressive this season. For Sassuolo, he had three assists in 11 appearances in Serie A. A closer look into these stats show this was achieved in only 593 minutes of play. This is due to Traoré having a long term injury at the start of the season, which kept him out for an extended period of time.
If his injury issues are behind him, and his deal is made permanent, then Bournemouth will be getting a very versatile player. The Ivorian can play in most midfield positions, and will be desperate for regular game time. That will increase his chances of getting back into the Ivory Coast national team set-up.
Other signings made in the January transfer window include promising Ukrainian defender Ilya Zabarnyi from Dynamo Kyiv, Uruguayan left-back Matias Vina (Roma), and Antoine Semenyo from Bristol City. This mixture of players with relative pedigree such as Ouattara, Traoré, and Vina, plus the talented Zabarnyi and Semenyo, represents some very good initial business under Foley. This should give Bournemouth supporters some optimism going into the business end of the season.
Impact of Gary O’Neill
Another potential reason for optimism is the relative impact of rookie manager Gary O’Neill, who seems to have earned the respect of the players. That comes despite seeming like a shot in the dark appointment perhaps initially given his lack of actual management experience.
He has seemingly managed to galvanize the squad, and give them genuine belief that they can stay up. Results like the one against Liverpool show that they can beat teams they are not expected to. Couple that with results against similar ranked teams in their remaining fixtures, they could achieve their aim.
Overall, given the extremely positive nature of the January transfer window, and the belief that the manager seems to have instilled in the players, its perfectly possible Bournemouth can survive, but only time will tell if they can achieve this.