The rise of Bournemouth has been remarkable in recent years.
Despite having a stadium that holds little more than 10,000 fans, an ambitious owner and talented manager have seen them become an established Premier League side,
Paying £20m and £25m for players in the past 16 months, Rafa Benitez can only look on with envy as Mike Ashley starves his manager of the funds needed to compete in any meaningful way.
Ahead of Saturday’s match, The Mag’s Jonathan Drape-Comyn caught up with Peter Bell of the Cherry Chimes blog
‘Bournemouth have made a great start to the season sitting sixth, are you expecting to keep up the good form, or as they say, ‘tail off’ over the next few weeks?’
“The fixtures have been kind to the Cherries in the first couple of months and the players have taken full advantage of that. However, looking at how many goals the team is scoring, I believe they are competitive against the best sides now. If they can get a result against the upcoming matches with Arsenal or Man City that will help confidence and we could be witnessing something special this season for the club.”
‘Based on your promising start, what final league position would you deem a successful season?’
“Well before the season kicked-off I had predicted a mid-table 14th place finish. I have already ripped that up.
“I’d have to say that finishing worse than eighth would be disappointing now. Ninth is the best that the club has ever done, so it is a good target to try and beat that.”
‘When explaining the problems that exist at Newcastle United with Mike Ashley, a regular complaint is that “we can’t even compete with Bournemouth”.I am sure you are aware of comments like this. What is your take on it? Disrespectful? Or fair comment?’
“I don’t think Newcastle fans mean to be disrespectful when they say those things, but in a way our fans could also recognise such comments to feel that Bournemouth are over achieving.
“Just because Bournemouth have a small ground doesn’t mean they can’t play better football than Newcastle, and players choose to come to Bournemouth because of the manager here and the progressive nature of the club.
“Being in the Premier League, we can now compete on wages for the players that might have gone to Newcastle in the past and in some ways I feel we have overtaken clubs like Newcastle.
“So I’m not surprised by the comments from frustrated Newcastle fans who love their football but not under Mike Ashley.”
‘Some Newcastle fans over the past year have criticised Gareth Southgate for overlooking Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles for the England squad.
‘What is your take on the likes of Callum Wilson being overlooked recently? Would you prefer to see him recognized for his good form… or prefer him to just do it Bournemouth (ED Very topical question and answer, these questions/answers given before Wilson was named in England squad yesterday)?’
“There is a popular opinion that England pick players that play for the top six clubs when they can even if those players may not be playing regularly.
“Callum Wilson plays week in and week out for us. I think he will get a call up at some point, but I am more than happy that he gets to rest a bit during international breaks and work more with Eddie Howe on his game for Bournemouth. He is still a little inconsistent and needs a few chances per game to tuck his chances away.
“I think Southgate is looking at the bigger picture of how his style fits with how England play and he is going to pick players with European experience before he gives players like Wilson a chance. “
‘Eddie Howe has not only put together a good side, but has included youth to great success (Ake, Ibe, Cook, Brooks etc). Do you hope to hold on to these young lads, or accept that they need to be sold on for the benefit of the club financially?’
“I don’t think the club has bought those players simply with the intent to improve them and sell them at a profit. We are not a Southampton.
“Many of the players at the club have been with the club since League One days and the turnover of players has not been that quick at Dean Court.
“Howe is building a side to challenge the top eight clubs I would say and Bournemouth will fight to keep hold of their young talent.”
‘For a club that at the moment can only draw home gates of around 11,000, does large signings like Jefferson Lerma (up to £30million) worry you? Or do you have full trust in your owner when it comes to money?’
“While the transfer fees are far bigger than the club has been able to spend in the past, and the wages have risen steeply, the Premier League money has enabled the club to attract such players. Our finishes have been 16th, 9th and 12th and we haven’t been picking up the lowest of payments from our finishes each season.
“By going after such players as Lerma (£25m I believe), it has meant that the stadium plans and new training grounds have been put on hold, so it has been a considered decision and the club is managed financially better than it has been in the past.”
‘What are your impressions of Mike Ashley?’
“He is a businessman first and foremost, who happens to own a football club.
“I don’t think he really wants to hang on to the club and his heart isn’t in it anymore. But he’ll want to make money so the sale has been a problem for him.
“I am not surprised the Newcastle fans are disgusted by him as the club can’t move in until they get an owner that invests in the club.”
‘Bournemouth are well known for playing good football under Eddie Howe. On the other hand, the national media have made quite the fuss about Rafa’s negative tactics at Newcastle United. If our two managers were to swap places, are Rafa’s tactics something the Bournemouth fans would accept?’
“Bournemouth fans are spoiled every week with the attacking football that Eddie Howe provides. We are used to it and wouldn’t want it to change. Sticking 11 men behind the ball to try and play for a point at home wouldn’t go down well on the south coast.”
‘Do fans still look at Newcastle away as a difficult place to go or do you just see us as any other club in the bottom half?’
“Ha, I don’t really think of Newcastle being any less able to beat AFC Bournemouth just because they are in the lower half of the table at present.
“At home they are going to have a lot of fans behind them and on the back of a win it might not be the best to times to go to St James Park.
“I just see it as another Premier League game away from home with both teams capable of getting a win, playing well or poorly.”
‘Prediction for this weekend?’
“Well, I have a Newcastle fan called Kieran who sits next to me at work. I know he is not too optimistic of his team’s chances but if Newcastle play well at the back – best scenario for Newcastle – I can see you possibly getting a 1-1 draw.
“Maybe Newcastle are not good enough to sneak a win. I just think Bournemouth could have a hangover from the Man Utd game.
“Bournemouth are highly likely to score and I can’t see Newcastle scoring twice. So, I think Bournemouth will get something from the game – could be a draw could be a win for us.
“The result may depend more on how Newcastle defend than anything else.”