After finishing as runners-up in the Championship last season, Bournemouth were seen by fans and pundits across the country as certainties for relegation heading into this season’s Premier League campaign. That notion was further reinforced after a summer window that saw the south coast outfit spend just £25million on additions to the squad, with three free transfers. Something that even then-manager Scott Parker was critical of before his departure.
Bournemouth began the season well, beating Aston Villa on the opening day, before a string of bad results saw them hammered 4-0 away to Manchester City, 3-0 at home to Arsenal, and then thrashed 9-0 away to Liverpool. Parker claimed his side were ‘underequipped’ following the annihilation at Anfield and his harsh post-match words cost him his job. This saw Gary O’Neil – who had not managed a team at any level – brought in as interim manager, which only strengthened the argument that Bournemouth were destined to fall straight back down into the Championship.
That wasn’t to be the case though and the former Portsmouth and Middlesbrough midfielder has done an incredible job, saving Bournemouth from a relegation scrap with two games to spare. It’s harsh that O’Neil isn’t a candidate for the Manager of the Season award after overcoming what many perceived to be the impossible job and keeping the Cherries in the Premier League.