Darkhorse Chronicles – AFC Bournemouth
This weeks Darkhorse is an AFC Bournemouth team that has been flying a little under the radar this season and deserves to be covered. One of the other writers has been asking me not to write them up so I don’t change their fortunes. If you don’t know who I’m talking about you can check on his decision process in his Finding A Football Club series (spoiler, he picks Bournemouth). For my money, they’ve been one of the definite winners of the season.
The Cherries have been one of the feel good stories of the EFL having worked their way up to the top tier for the first time in 2015-2016. They finished the 2017-2018 in 12th, and added a couple of new faces in an attempt to bolster the side. So far, it seems to be working wonders as they reside in 6th place. If they continue at the same pace, they’ll finish the season with 63 points which would have been good enough for 6th place last season. In addition to the movement up the table, they are on track for 66.5 goals scored, 51 concessions and a plus 15-16 goal differential. This is a massive improvement from last season’s 45 goals scored, 61 concessions, a -16 goal differential and only 44 points.
Eddie Howe isn’t news for Bournemouth fans having played for the Cherries and managed the team once already. He’s received heaps of praise since his return to the Cherries in October of 2012 — including a manager of the decade award. He continues to build on their successes of late and appears to be well on track to do it again.
We covered all of AFC Bournemouth’s summer transfer activity so I’m only going to touch on these player’s performances in the side.
- Jefferson Lerma missed the team’s first three games but has been a part of everything since. He’s added a goal and an assist so far this season, which is purely bonus production from a defensive midfielder. He’s been one of their best players on the season and has provided generously to the defense with interceptions, aerials won, clearances, etc. He hasn’t figured into the attack much, but he’s playing the boss I projected in the transfer summary. He’s made the starting eleven in nine of his ten matches played.
- David Brooks has been an absolute fixture for the side, having made eleven starts out of twelve games in the eighteen. He’s provided 3 goals in that time and he’s so young I expect him to only get better. He’s shown his ability to have a fantastic game and to be a great scorer and distributor but he needs to find some consistent.
- Diego Rico hasn’t made quite the impact I anticipated, he’s only made 3 appearances for the side. He hasn’t been mind blowing when does take the pitch, so I think it’s got to be frustrating for him because he’s not played as well as he can. With the injury news about Adam Smith, he might have an opportunity to fight for some minutes.
I talked a little about Eddie Howe’s record already, but despite a substantially smaller budget than many of the bigger clubs he continues to succeed. I see no reason this trend can’t continue although the side may dip slightly, perhaps to an 8th or 9th place finish. This is no knock to Bournemouth, I am just anticipating some serious spending this (winter) transfer window with clubs trying to close the gap between Manchester City and the chasers.