After a brilliant debut season in the Premier League, Eddie Howe faces the difficult task of ensuring Bournemouth do not suffer second-season syndrome.
Howe has been linked to take over from Arsene Wenger next season with the Frenchman’s contract expiring at the end of the season. To have any chance of taking such a big job, Howe will not only need to ensure Premier League survival for the club, but perhaps even guide his side to a midtable finish.
Howe has the potential to take this team to the middle of the table as they quite comfortably avoided relegation last season and the signs show that they can continue to progress this time around. Bournemouth are becoming a well respected Premier League club due to their fearless attacking approach. With official sponsors like Mansion Casino, the club is growing and hoping to establish itself as a club comfortable in England’s top flight.
There is no reason they cannot do that. The clubs £15 million capture of Jordon Ibe, a player many Liverpool fans considered to be the next big thing, highlights the clubs buying power now they are competing in the cash-rich Premier League.
Although they lost Matt Ritchie to Newcastle, Bournemouth have managed to retain the nucleus of the squad that not only took them to the Premier League but kept them there. As Leicester City showed last season, it is not always he glamorous big money signings that ensures success. A strong team bond and identity is more important and that is exactly what the team has at Bournemouth.
Many forget that Bournemouth were missing a whole host of top class players last season due to long term injuries. The biggest absence was that of striker Callum Wilson, who finished as the clubs top goal scorer despite getting injured just two months into the season. He is back now and so are the likes of Max Gradel, a player that could potentially be key for the clubs attack.
Ibe is not the only addition Howe has made too. He brought in Lewis Cook from Leeds for £10 million earlier in the summer and has more recently made the shrewd additions of Lys Mousset – an exciting young forward and Marc Wilson – an experienced solid defender.
I predict that despite their two defeats against Manchester United and West Ham, Bournemouth will be comfortable in the Premier League again this season. I think they can improve on last seasons results with the likes of Ibe and Cook now in the midfield. It will not be easy by any means with every single match a tough task, but I’m predicting a 15th placed finish for the Cherries.