Bournemouth’s rise has been meteoric and Eddie Howe is quietly creating himself a legacy. A 16th place finish in their first season was sufficient and this year’s 9th place was a great achievement. Working on a shoe string budget (mainly because most of it was wasted on Jordan Ibe) Howe complimented his squad well in the loan market with Wilshere and Ake. Fans may be disappointed in their third round exits in both cups but will have plenty of moments to savour, with positive, exciting games against both Liverpool and Arsenal top of the list.
The Cherries only amassed four more points than last year but improved their goal difference by ten, despite conceding three or more on twelve occasions. That increased attacking output was mainly down to Joshua King, whose 16 goals more than doubled his tally from last season. One can’t help but wonder if Stanislas could have done the same given a good run without injuries.
All of this points towards Howe’s attacking philosophy paying off but they will have to be better defensively next season, especially on the road, in order to finish in the top half again. Boruc made 114 saves last season but will be pushed for a starting spot by new signing Begovic.
I can see Bournemouth staying up again but probably not finishing in the top half unless they really strengthen. A finish between 10-15 would be perfectly acceptable, especially if they can improve upon their dismal cup showings. If they can keep hold of King and bring in some experienced heads they’ll be fine. I hope to see them become an established Premier League in years to come.
Sigurdsson and Barkley are pretty unrealistic given their budget and lack of European football but it’s the kind of player they need, a creative central midfielder to replace Wilshere (unless they can sign him, which I also doubt). Harry Arter keeps them ticking nicely but needs support. Given the managerial situation at Southampton perhaps Romeu represents a realistic option, or Drinkwater may fancy a new challenge.
Defensively they do need to tighten up. Ake would be a solid signing but it may have to be another loan. Realistic options from abroad include the likes of Fabian Schar, Martin Hinterreger, Simon Kjaer. The Championship provides good options in Cyrus Christie, Tom Lees and Luke Ayling.