Bournemouth have appointed Andoni Iraola as their new manager on a two-year contract following the shock sacking of Gary O’Neil.
O’Neil was surprisingly dismissed on Monday despite his heroic efforts this season in managing to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League despite everyone tipping the Cherries to go down. Replacing the sacked Scott Parker in August following a 9-0 drubbing away to Liverpool, O’Neil galvanised the squad into picking up 36 points from their next 34 games to secure Premier League survival relatively easily despite having, on paper at least, the worst squad of players in the league.
O’Neil was in the conversation for Manager Of The Year at the conclusion of the campaign, and Bournemouth were expected to enter the 2023/24 season with the Englishman at the helm.
But following Monday’s announcement, that will no longer be happening. New Bournemouth owner Bill Foley, who purchased the club from long-standing Russian owner Maxim Demin back in December, said as part of a wider statement, “Gary will go on to have a long career as a head coach or manager, but we feel that, at this moment in time, a change is in the best interests of this football club. I would like to place on record my thanks to Gary and wish him all the best for the future”.
Reportedly, O’Neil was told on Monday that the club wanted to adopt a different style of play to accelerate their progress under Foley, and it is thought that a more experienced manager would fit better with Foley’s vision of growing the club both on and off the pitch. Therefore, Spanish manager Andoni Iraola was announced as O’Neil’s replacement not long after, with owner Foley saying of Iraola “He was highly sought after by other clubs across the continent, and his style of play has been an important factor in making this decision. His achievements in Spain have certainly been very impressive, and we’re confident that he is the right man to lead our next chapter”. But who actually is he? Why is he so highly rated, and what can he bring to Bournemouth?