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Why Bournemouth should dare to dream with Gary O’Neil appointment

Why Bournemouth should dare to dream with Gary O’Neil appointment

When news initially broke of Scott Parker‘s sacking at Bournemouth, the initial outpouring of emotion was directed at the club’s board, who appeared to have acted on the back of a record-equalling 9-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool. However, delve further into the developments behind the scenes at the Cherries and you will find that disagreements over transfer policies and the perceived need to make higher-profile additions during the final days of the summer window ultimately led to the departure of a man who had previously led Bournemouth to promotion back to the Premier League.

According to a report in The Athletic, a number of players in the first-team squad took offence when Parker made a point of suggesting that his current crop of players were not good enough to keep the club in the top flight. In reality, Parker was perhaps trying to send a message to owner Maxim Demin that Bournemouth should be matching fellow promoted sides Fulham and Nottingham Forest in spending heavily in the transfer market in a bid to cement their place back in the big time, an understandable desire and expectation given how Bournemouth had acted decisively in January to help their return to English football’s top table.

When Parker cleared his desk at the club’s training ground, there would have been disappointment, but he may have felt that he was leaving a sinking ship. After all, Bournemouth had conceded 16 goals without reply since their opening-day victory over Aston Villa, and it had become apparent that his desired targets would not be coming through the door at the Vitality Stadium. Less than a week later, opinions may have changed, and a fresh face and added motivation have ensured that Bournemouth will no longer be regarded as also-rans in the Premier League this season.

AFC Bournemouth's Jaidon Anthony celebrates scoring their third goal on September 3, 2022© Reuters

Gary O’Neil was only regarded as a stand-in when he was officially handed the reins on Tuesday morning. The idea was that the senior first-team coach would oversee matters against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest before the board announce a longer-term appointment. Even with the lure of managing in the Premier League, that may have proven tricky with the eventful replacement for Parker already aware of the limitations which come with managing a team of Bournemouth’s stature.

However, the impact that O’Neil has already had has left Demin without a decision to make. Bournemouth had already been tipped to finish bottom in the Premier League this season, a prediction which was based on external views, but this is now a group of players who have been told that they cannot do something by the very person who is supposed to be believe in them the most. If reports are to believed, that can only have unleashed a beast in some of this squad, and O’Neil has already worked wonders to generate a dressing room full of positivity on the back of one of the club’s most embarrassing results in their history.

O’Neil is currently keeping his cards very much close to his chest as he receives the inevitable questions from the media and the majority support from supporters who had felt like their team’s season was already on a downward spiral. However, O’Neil and Demin must each capitalise on the opportunity which is in front each of them, even if it is a scenario which neither anticipated a week ago. The harmony in the dressing room is there for all to see, and the jubilation which followed Saturday’s stunning comeback win at Nottingham Forest will live long in the memory.

There can be no disputing that Bournemouth have rode their luck on occasions over the past two games. If it was not for Wolves’ continued dismal showings in the final third on Wednesday, Bournemouth would not have kept a clean sheet and posted a much-needed point. Forest also blew opportunities both before and after the three-goal fightback from their opponents to make sure of a point, or even three, but sometimes, the stars align in a way where you have to dream and not keep to business acumen and protocol.

Watch it again and again and again 🤩

Start your Sunday with the winning moment, courtesy of @JaidonnA11 💫

— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) September 4, 2022

O’Neil and Demin are each at that point. Demin risks more by bringing in an outside influence at this point in time when Bournemouth have a short-term schedule in front of them which could make or break their season. The club sit in 13th position, even having encountered trips to Manchester City and Liverpool, and continuing to build momentum is far more important than appointing a higher-profile name than O’Neil.

All things considered, the 39-year-old has limited coaching experience. He has been an assistant at Liverpool Under-23s and spent the remainder of his two-year stint on the training ground learning his trade on the South coast. Managers – people in general on a wider scale – naturally have concerns about accepting opportunities before their time, and vice-versa. Football management is a cut-throat industry and one bad decision can lead to a prolonged period in the wilderness, but it it the nature of said industry that dictates that O’Neil must also be willing to take any chance given to him with both hands.

With a week now in front of Bournemouth ahead of their home fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion, the situation will likely come to a head over the coming days, but the club’s owners need to buy into an underdog mentality that has only been strengthened by recent events if they want to give themselves the best chance of survival.

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