AFC Bournemouth had an expectantly poor start to the season under Scott Parker, however upon Gary O’Neill taking the reins as interim manager the cherries instantly started to pick up form, taking 9 points from 15 available in the next five games following the departure of Parker. However, since their impressive run of games up until the Southampton loss in october, Bournemouth have won just one game. Things needed to change, and fast.
Income Bill Foley. The owner of the ‘Vegas Golden Knights’ completed a £150 million takeover of Bournemouth, promising to “put AFC Bournemouth in the best possible position to succeed”.
The takeover was exactly what the cherries were desperate for, a change, a chance to compete to remain a Premier League side rather than resigning to the prospect of certain relegation, an opportunity for the club to continue to progress as a club and build on the incredible job of the previous owners.
Foley released a statement shortly after the confirmation of the takeover in which he promised to maintain a focus on the connection of community and club, claiming that the link between the two is “the foundation for success of any sports team”. Spirits were high once again for the cherries, who now had a newfound sense of optimism they had been struggling to find throughout the season so far.
The january transfer window would see Foley prove his promise to attempt to put AFC Bournemouth in a position to succeed, spending about £80 million (£21 million of which will be paid in the summer through a loan with an obligation to buy) on 6 players to strengthen the cherries squad.
The first signing that would be made would be Dango Ouattara for £24 million from lorient, a highly rated young winger who had been enjoying the most prolific season of his career so far before joining Bournemouth in january, totalling 6 goals and 6 assists in Ligue 1 in 18 games for lorient.
The second signing would be Darren Randolph from West Ham as an emergency backup goalkeeper. The third signing, Antoine Semenyo would join from Bristol City for £9 Million, the forward had impressed in the second tier and earned a Premier League move for his performances, brought in most likely as competition for Dominic Solanke.
The fourth signing was Matias Vina from Roma on a loan with an option to buy, bringing much needed cover for the fullbacks and also providing a decent option for the defence. The Fifth signing, Ilya Zabarnyi had been highly linked with a move to Tottenham prior to his £20 million move to the cherries, at just the age of 20 Zabarnyi had already racked up 24 caps for his country and had experience on the european stage.
The final signing that AFC Bournemouth would make would be the exciting young talent of Hamed Traore, the attacking midfielder had impressed in italy for a couple of seasons, starring for Sassuolo and eventually attracting interest from many clubs, this signing would be on an initial loan, with £21 million to be paid to Sassuolo in the summer in order to make the move permanent.
A few other players were extremely close to signing for the cherries, notably Nicolas Jackson, just as it looked as though Bournemouth had hijacked Southampton's move for the young centre-forward, the Villarreal ace would end up failing his medical, leading to the collapse of the deal at the last minute.
These signings would no doubt be a huge boost for the squad and a major morale booster for the fans.
Despite these new signings and the positivity surrounding the club following the takeover, the supporters still remain unconvinced of the position of the manager, Gary O’Neil.
Calls for the sacking of the young manager have been loud and clear for months, supporters citing his inexperience as the biggest issue in regards to his ability to steer AFC Bournemouth towards survival.
As of 16/02/2023, AFC Bournemouth sit in 19th with just 18 points, above only Southampton. Time will tell as to whether Gary O’Neil has the ability to guide the cherries through their relegation fight, with the January signings no doubt being a huge boost for the club.
It is arguably currently unclear as to whether the future is looking bright for the cherries, although I imagine it will become much more apparent as to where the club is headed over the next few months.