The final five games of my first season in charge of The Cherries were fraught with danger as we got sucked into a relegation battle that we thought we’d done enough to avoid!
We lost 2-0 at Brighton, missing a plethora of second half chances to complete an ugly 5-0 season aggregate at the hands of the ravenous Seagulls. We were then defeated at home by Fulham (1-0) courtesy of a late Andre Schurrle strike.
Positively, we managed to stop the rot in the south coast derby away at neighbours Southampton. We assumed the lead via a fantastic goal from Moses Simon, who really stepped up after a frustrating couple of games for him personally. Sadly, we conceded a late goal for the second game in a row so the match finished 1-1.
Before our penultimate match at home to Tottenham Hotspur we suffered a huge blow when goalkeeper Asmir Begovic (14 clean sheets in 36 appearances) was ruled out of the remainder of the campaign through injury. After a difficult couple of cup games, Luca Vigouroux, out of contract and in the footballing wilderness only a few months prior, would be between the sticks for a pivotal time in the history of AFC Bournemouth.
Through no fault of Vigoroux we fell behind to Spurs, an outstanding solo goal from Dele Alli putting our Premier League status on thin ice. With a reasonable amount of fortune or poor goalkeeping from Hugo Lloris if you prefer, Josh King netted his ninth goal of the season to secure our Premier League standing. Relief ran around the ground and the town.
Unfortunately we couldn’t end the campaign on a further high, losing 1-0 at home to this season’s surprise package Crystal Palace. That result meant that we finished the season like such:
P38 W8 D17 L13 F26 A33 P41
We actually finished the season in a more than respectable 13th place, even if things were a bit tense towards the end of the campaign. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that throwing teenage January recruit Max Bird into the first XI at the expense of experienced duo Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman was the wrong call. After some promising early signs the former Derby County player struggled with the step up to the Premier League but still has the ability and now the experience to help us progress. Too many players to mention made significant contributions throughout my first season but Giovanni Simeone’s struggles in front of goal were particularly painful.
Statistically Josh King led the way with nine goals but it’ll be nice if someone can reach double figures next year. King’s three yellow cards were also a club high in a disciplined campaign for which we received no red cards. Moses Simon topped the assist tally with five (He also scored four) and Asmir Begovic and co. recorded 14 clean sheets, bettered only by Allison and Liverpool (16).
Many players have returned from loan and so there will be healthy competition for places next season. Nathaniel Clyne has returned to Liverpool so another right-back is a must to back up Jeremiah St-Juste. A genuine goal scorer is a necessity too and I’m pleased to say that we’ve commenced negotiations with a number of targets… or their employers at least! With a few additions to the squad our aim for the 2019-20 campaign must be to break into the top ten and score more than a goal a game in doing so.
Look out for a full transfer window update in due course!