Vital Bournemouth‘s Dave gives us the inside story ahead of tomorrow’s match against the Cherries
Ahead of tomorrow’s Championship clash with AFC Bournemouth, we spoke to Dave from Vital Bournemouth about how things stand on the south coast at this early stage of the season.
Don’t forget, tomorrow’s kick off is at 12:15, and will be shown live on Sky Sports.
Vital Watford: What were Cherries fans’ expectations before the start of this season?
Dave: A very mixed bunch really.
After the end of the season run that we enjoyed during the last campaign, almost flirting with a play-off finish – especially during the month of March – many had hoped that we would kick on again this season and put in a strong challenge for a top six position.
Others would like to see us to continue to build on establishing ourselves in the second tier of English football. This of course is only our second period at this level in our history, and last season’s top 10 finish probably exceeded all expectations and raised expectation levels ahead of the new season.
Overall, we have a young side with many players only going into their second season of Championship football.
We have built on last season’s side, adding Andrew Surman to the squad on a permanent basis alongside Dan Gosling from Newcastle United and Junior Stanislas from Burnley.
We’ve also added Callum Wilson to the squad following the departure of last season’s top goalscorer Lewis Grabban.
Wilson looks an excellent purchase and at just 22 years old, he looks like a player that can undoubtedly improve as time goes on as well as be ready to establish himself at this level now. But we are seemingly going through an adjustment period as both he and the rest of the squad adapt to the change up front.
VW: So far, are you living up to the expectations felt by the majority of the fan base? You seemed to start very well with six points from two games, but after losing to current leaders Nottingham Forest in your third league game you’ve not picked up a win.
D: Recent results have been disappointing, but mainly due to the performance levels that the club have shown. The excellent football and potential is clear for anyone to see, but right now something just isn’t clicking in the form of results.
The Nottingham Forest game which you refer to is an excellent example as it was an unbelievable match of football.
The Cherries absolutely dominated from the kick off, with fast paced incisive football, with crisp passing and moving, cutting Forest open time and time again. It was the type of football that blew the likes of QPR, Reading and Leeds away last season, but unfortunately we found Darlow in the Forest goal in inspired form and despite boasting what must have been 80% possession at half time with Forest unable to get out of their final third let alone half, we still came in at the break goalless.
During the second half we did open the scoring, but – and this has unfortunately begun a worrying trend – we gave away the lead and eventually lost the points. This was repeated against Rotherham and then Leeds United on Tuesday.
You could easily argue that with the points lost from those three games alone we would be sitting in the top six going into Saturday’s game.
VW: Who is your key player at the moment?
D: That’s a tricky one. Eddie Howe has gone into the Championship season with a strong squad with almost two players for every position, particularly in midfield, where he has opted to rotate the squad on a match by match basis.
For this game we could see the side revert back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that we used against Norwich to earn a point. This would see Yann Kermorgant drop out of the side for to Wilson play the lone role up front, and he would be supported by two from Matt Ritchie, Marc Pugh, Ryan Fraser and Junior Stanislas.
Then in central midfield it would be three from Andrew Surman, Harry Arter, Eunan O’Kane and Dan Gosling.
The defence has mainly looked the same, in part due to the injury of Elliott Ward. This will leave captain Tommy Elphick alongside Steve Cook, with Simon Francis at right back and either Charlie Daniels or Ian Harte at left back, although Adam Smith who can play at full back on either flank is also on the fringes. Lee Camp will play in goal.
Any of the above 16 players could easily feature, in either the above system or a flat 4-4-2.
There is an argument that perhaps our lack of results so far has been down to that one player not taking games by the scruff of the neck and demanding a first team place week in week out, either with leadership qualities or performances. But hopefully the rotation system will also help to keep players fresh and able to play our passing game.
VW: As you mentioned earlier, you played great possession football against Nottingham Forest for at least 45 minutes. Are your team playing in much the same manner as last season in general? How would you sum up your style so far this season?
D: Under Eddie Howe we will continue to play the football that Leeds caretaker manager Neil Redfearn described as ‘the best footballing side in the Championship’. This was echoed this week by Sky Sports on their FL72 programme. When on form we are an absolute joy to watch and we are capable of playing some quite unstoppable football, which is the best we have ever seen at Dean Court.
Unfortunately, as I alluded to earlier, we are currently adapting to the style change that we’ve had to go through with Lewis Grabban’s departure to Norwich and Callum Wilson coming in from Coventry, so we haven’t been scoring as many goals as our performances should probably be earning. This has seen us drop points.
We’ve also seen a number of players struggle for form; in particular the likes of Yann Kermorgant and Steve Cook, who have yet to hit the heights of their performances last season.
VW: How do you anticipate the game will go on Saturday? What’s your score prediction?
D: Right now it’s impossible to predict the outcome. The way we’ve been playing it’s hard to think that we won’t begin to click and start picking up results. Once the results come the confidence returns and the performances improve as the players grow into an in-form side. This squad certainly has the potential to do that, and the way they are currently playing the old cliché ‘goals breed confidence’ really seems to apply.
Whether or not that will start away at Vicarage Road in front of the Sky Sports cameras is anyone’s guess though.
We’d like to thank Dave for answering our questions, and wish him all the best for the season ahead.
In addition to our own coverage of tomorrow’s game, Vital Bournemouth will have post-match reaction and other reports following full time here.