Match Report and final verdict v Everton

#23
Neil, I have always thought you did great reports, that is the best you have ever written. Your words in The Verdict are perfect. Thank you once again for taking the time.

You are so right, it was such a 'very Bournemouth way' to ultimately get relegated. Although I retained hope prior to kick off, I really didn't think we would get as close as we did today.

I really hope Eddie stays, yes he has been very stubborn this season, but I think our only chance of challenging again is with him calling the shots. Assuming King and Callum move on, I think a partnership of Solanke and Surridge will do real damage in the Championship. Whatever happens, it needs to be decided quickly as we are due to kick off again in a little over 6 weeks.
 
#24
Chosen few indeed. My dad is 86 now and seeing us in the Premier League has been brilliant for him, and brought him a lot of joy. I hope he will still be around if we make it again. I hope I am for that matter, but there's no guarantee for either of us so I intend to enjoy the great memories, curse VAR and look forward to our 6th ever season in the second tier. Let that sink in. Only 10 years outside the bottom 2 divisions in our history. Relegation isn't fun but it's not the end of the world either
I similarly have a Dad that I have been taking until now , he is 92 and won't be able to go next season due to his age and abilities. Echo all you have said here.
 
#26
Neil, I have always thought you did great reports, that is the best you have ever written. Your words in The Verdict are perfect. Thank you once again for taking the time.

You are so right, it was such a 'very Bournemouth way' to ultimately get relegated. Although I retained hope prior to kick off, I really didn't think we would get as close as we did today.

I really hope Eddie stays, yes he has been very stubborn this season, but I think our only chance of challenging again is with him calling the shots. Assuming King and Callum move on, I think a partnership of Solanke and Surridge will do real damage in the Championship. Whatever happens, it needs to be decided quickly as we are due to kick off again in a little over 6 weeks.
I do hope you’re right Danny but Solanke and Surridge as yet both unproven. I’d feel happier with one of King and Wilson alongside them next season.
 
#27
Whatever happens though we should never forget we were the chosen few. Generations of Bournemouth fans shuffled off the planet having answered the question ‘do you ever think you could play in the top league’ with a chuckle and a ‘not in my lifetime’. They were correct too. We also said it…….but we were wrong. We went to Stamford Bridge and won often, we beat Liverpool from a two goal deficit and drew at Anfield, we beat United at home a few times, we beat Spurs in the last minute, we beat Arsenal (and more incredibly Jordan Ibe scored) and most importantly……….we beat Southampton at their place. These are the stories we will tell our grandchildren and they are statistically more likely to tell theirs than they are to see it themselves.

It is for that reason – whatever our individual criticisms of his last few years – that we are forever indebted to Eddie Howe for giving us the most magical of journeys. Whether he will stay to re-establish his legacy with a stadium and training ground is a little up in the air but his greatest gift is to a generation of Bournemouth fans and fans of small clubs up and down the country - the belief that anything is possible. We might be back with sparse crowds losing at home to Rochdale but we will have a smile inside and when people ask the next generation ‘ do you ever think you could play in the top league’ they will answer ‘yeah………of course’.

Whether Eddie stays or goes there is no better legacy than that.
Fair play

Can't believe its wrap up time in the match reports again.

We spent donkeys years reminiscing over 87/88 ....now we really have something to reminisce about. Fantastic memories and no regrets.
 
#29
Yet again a brilliant read. It’s a blip! No more. We will learn from this and come back stronger. Our club became to Premier league and it just didn’t suit us. Let’s get out identity back and start enjoying what we have for decades. A unique family club who aspire to be the best we possibly can. Cheers Eddie. It’s been memorable for all and you can be very proud of what you’ve achieved
 
#30
Thanks for the reports Neil,unlike a lot of others I agree with what you write 99 percent of the time,and you see the game in many ways a lot like I do.
That's not to say everyone who doesn't agree is wrong,that's what makes football forums so special,the difference in opinion.
It's been a great 5 years but I'm not sure I'll miss the Prem that much,the only thing I fear for is our financial future.
Look forward to that first match report in 6 weeks time !!
 
#31
A Very Bournemouth Exit

Whatever happens though we should never forget we were the chosen few. Generations of Bournemouth fans shuffled off the planet having answered the question ‘do you ever think you could play in the top league’ with a chuckle and a ‘not in my lifetime’. They were correct too. We also said it…….but we were wrong. We went to Stamford Bridge and won often, we beat Liverpool from a two goal deficit and drew at Anfield, we beat United at home a few times, we beat Spurs in the last minute, we beat Arsenal (and more incredibly Jordan Ibe scored) and most importantly……….we beat Southampton at their place. These are the stories we will tell our grandchildren and they are statistically more likely to tell theirs than they are to see it themselves.

It is for that reason – whatever our individual criticisms of his last few years – that we are forever indebted to Eddie Howe for giving us the most magical of journeys. Whether he will stay to re-establish his legacy with a stadium and training ground is a little up in the air but his greatest gift is to a generation of Bournemouth fans and fans of small clubs up and down the country - the belief that anything is possible. We might be back with sparse crowds losing at home to Rochdale but we will have a smile inside and when people ask the next generation ‘ do you ever think you could play in the top league’ they will answer ‘yeah………of course’.

Whether Eddie stays or goes there is no better legacy than that.
Christ there's something in my eye all of a sudden
 
#32
Superb writing and insightful analysis as always. I always look forward to these reports and they always spark the kind of debate this forum is here for.

A strange season on every level and a strange relegation. As a Cherries fan for about 25 years (so probably somewhere in the middle on this forum), I genuinely never thought I would see us in the top league. It has bought some wonderful memories, from the first 4-3 away win at West Ham, to the many scalps of the big boys. Ake's winner vs Liverpool, Daniels' screamer, tearing Chelsea apart multiple times, 5-0 at Brighton, it's been one hell of a ride.

And yet this season, even before Covid, has felt long, tired and turgid. The football has been at times almost unwatchable (that period of 4 or 5 games where we barely mustered a shot), former heroes have disappointed us, players seemed to tumble like dominoes at the worst times and we seemed on a slow sleepwalk to relegation since November, maybe even since last season. The West Ham away defeat was as low as I've felt in the PL 5 years, and there were 3 or 4 other games not much better than that.

Covid seemed to provide the team with a potential reprieve, with Brooks our expected saviour, but whatever we did in that break put us right on the back foot and light years behind even the likes of Palace and Newcastle in preparedness and fitness. We were so sluggish out of the blocks and ultimately that has relgated us.

Maybe it's the lack of fans, or the wider perspective on life which this pandemic brings, but personally, my level of hurt from AFCB this season peaked in Jan/Feb and since 'project restart' I've been more relaxed about our fate. Today didn't even feel THAT bad.

We have enough talent in this squad, even without Ake, Brooks, Callum, King and Jeff (although would be nice to keep 1 or 2 of them) to challenge at the right end of the Championship and I hope Eddie stays to rebuild it. But the guy is shattered - you can see it on his face and it has been the case most of this season. So he needs the right people around him to take the strain if he stays and he can't continue to hold the entire club on his shoulders.

I'm excited for the Championship and more than anything for VAR-less football. I don't think we were necessarily adversely impacted by VAR on balance over the season (except maybe the Burnley game), but for me it has ruined football as a spectacle, especially for those in the stadium. It's too confusing, inconsistently applied and far too slow. If you can't celebrate a goal wildly in the ground, what's the point? I find myself checking myself even 30 seconds after a goal before allowing myself to celebrate. Sometimes penalties are checked about a minute after the incident and then brought back, surely that's ruined the integrity of the match? Offside is now based on the size of a striker's toe nail, and absolutely nobody knows the handball rule anymore. So yeah, I won't miss VAR.

Anyway, thanks again for the reports all season Neil. I look forward to hopefully contributing a few more away-day reports next season! UTCIAD!
 
#34
Neil,I have always admired your reports and usually agree with them but your verdict today was something else I actually got a bit choked up. Whatever happens in the future we spent 5 seasons in the premier league and that can never be taken away from us.
 
D

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#35
Hope Rico stays he was colossal today.
Josh was also at his very best, I don't expect him to stay but I just want to say he is the best ever striker/winger to have worn the shirt the stats don't lie.
 
#36
Fabulous writing Neil, very poetic and moving in places. And thanks for all your reports over this eventful season. Sometimes controversial, occasionally spiky, but NEVER boring. Cheers, roll on next season.
 
#37
Seems a few posters 'missing' on this rainy Monday Mourning... probably will be reflected by the 8,000 crowd v Rotherham.....and...6,000 v Wycers Wanderers.......
...the Saints have room at Inn..ha!
 
#38
A Very Bournemouth Exit.

So farewell Premier League - you always felt more of a mistress than a wife and today you decided to stay with that loud big bloke from the midlands who has let you down so many times before. Bournemouth's magical stay in the top flight came to a nail-biting climax today as we all waited for the elusive West Ham goal (Villa having conceded in every away game) that never came...

Such were the fine margins that exist in top level sport, Bournemouth's relegation was by one point. Cue a whole trawl back through the season as all narrowly relegated sides do to point out the 'what if' moments. We have a massive one - the goal-line technology switch off that helped gain Villa a point v Sheff U. Ultimately Eddie will not focus on that in any post mortem - the two points gained against the fellow relegated sides and the lacklustre return post covid when just one home draw against Palace, Newcastle or Saints would have done the trick hurts far more than a dormant camera.

Today his side did what was asked, something that hasn't happenned often enough this year. Eddie wanted to make sure that we won, rather than face the pain of knowing it would have been enough. His side did that today - they went out with spirit and effort and whatever could be thrown at them through the year didn't apply in a convincing away win at Everton.

Eddie switched to his favoured 4-4-2 with a very attacking King and Brooks on the win - Gosling was back in for Billing and Smith for Stacey. It was s*** or bust time and the line-up reflected it. The performance reflected it too - high up the pitch, full backs attacking it was like the side that had taken the Premier League by surprise was back.

An early lead was key and it happened quickly with Richarlison handling in the box and KING converting the spot kick effortlessly. King was a huge threat all game and he should have had the chance to double the lead but a second hand-ball penalty was denied - one hoped it wouldn't be pivotal and it wasn't. Once again the vagaries of VAR continue to baffle and it won't be something we miss.

Wilson had a chance to double the lead too but a familiar sickening feeling came back when KEAN tapped in Theo Walcott's cross after slack marking - once again Bournemouth coming to the aid of an out of form forward.

The side showed how fired up they are and came back strongly and took the lead just before half time when SOLANKE headed home Rico's sumptious cross. How fitting after his struggles if he had been instrumental in keeping us in the league.

HT Everton 1 Bournemouth 2

The second half followed a similar pattern with Everton, understandably, less invested in the result and Bournemouth controlling the game high up. Kean showed the most threat for the home side with a couple of half chances but was part of a forward line that was well marshalled by our back four - Kelly and Rico impressive again.

Pickford beat away a Wilson drive as Bournemouth threatened but the game was playing itself out in the main with a sea of substitutions. Eddie moved back to a 4-5-1 as he protected the lead and Stanislas and Billing came on for Brooks and Solanke. They were soon to the fore though and STANISLAS who has been excellent since the return cut in and fired a drive that Pickford will want to forget as he should have done much better.

That was the game sealed and attention with the fans turned to West Ham. No amounts of bubbles blown, eels eaten or choruses of 'Lambeth Walk' could do it - and we tried them all in our house except the eels. Even in these times I still have taste-buds. The players walked off dejected, Eddie tried to stomach facing the media, the fans shed a tear. We might come back... although it's statistically less likely than we think but it won't be the same as your first time. As for Eddie - more on him in the verdict but a seminal moment in the history of our club awaits next week. 'May you live in interesting times' states the old Chinese proverb - we certainly have and in the short-term at least - we certainly do.

Ramsdale 7 - Strong handling and one good save.

Smith 7 - Back and buzzing.
Cook 7 - Dominant, strong and good leadership during and post match
Kelly 7 - Another promising outing - could be a star next year.
Rico 8 - Outstanding deliveries and intelligent play.

King 9 - Was outstanding at times - such a hit or miss player.
Gosling 8 - Good strong performance always there - cared.
Lerma 7 - A nice wing man for Dan and helped sieze game.
Brooks 6 - Worked hard - still on recovery path though.

Wilson 6 - Fluffed a few chances but worked hard - not on form.
Solanke 7 - A good finish and hope he goes into summer on a high.

MOM - King just shades it for me ahead of Rico and Dan - he played the way we know he can and may well be watching on TV next year!

Verdict.
‘The value of things is not the time they last, but the intensity with which they occur. That is why there are unforgettable moments and unique people’ Fernando Pessoa

Little Bournemouth’s stolen time at the top table ended today as we were sent, beleaguered and beaten back to the championship – ironically the league we had spent most of our 100 odd years fantasizing about being in.

What happens next will potentially define whether we slip back to the comfort zone of a bottom two leagues yo-yo club and financial implosion or whether we establish ourselves in an excellent second tier or rise back for a second improbable stint with the big boys. The answer to that may lie with the fate of Eddie Howe who one assumes will be spending a few days pondering his future. The last two years have become progressively more painful for the maestro as his hard-working over-achieving loyal stalwarts evolved into a more mercenary, self centered bunch with more talent but less desire, ultimately disconnected from the values and morals of the man who signed them.

If Eddie does return for next season then one hopes he remembers what made him successful – bravery and entertainment. The swashbuckling football of his early days, and indeed early Premier League days, was jettisoned two years ago for a safety first approach that relied heavily on the form of forwards breaking at pace. When those forwards succumbed to injuries, poor form or unfaithfulness there was nothing left bar a team that struggled to get out of its own half and sometimes played whole games without a shot on target. Sad – as Eddie was the pioneer of realising that you have more chance of beating Liverpool 4-3 than you will ever have of beating them 1-0 Playing reserve teams in every cup and even resting your best players against the top sides were all part of a slip into that Stoke/West Brom territory that none of us wanted and along with VAR will make leaving this league less painful than had it happened a few years ago.

If Eddie doesn’t return then we have a potentially bigger problem. The whole off field set-up is well documented as him and on the pitch he is up there with Clough, Busby, Shankly and Revie as men that built an entire football dynasty. There won’t be many people who take a league club from obscurity to the top ten of the Premier league – indeed neither of the afore-mentioned legends did. It is not dramatic to predict that there are more chances of a poor next appointment than a strong one. Dynasties don’t tend to be followed by other dynasties unless they are Mings…… and I don’t mean that one.

Whatever happens though we should never forget we were the chosen few. Generations of Bournemouth fans shuffled off the planet having answered the question ‘do you ever think you could play in the top league’ with a chuckle and a ‘not in my lifetime’. They were correct too. We also said it…….but we were wrong. We went to Stamford Bridge and won often, we beat Liverpool from a two goal deficit and drew at Anfield, we beat United at home a few times, we beat Spurs in the last minute, we beat Arsenal (and more incredibly Jordan Ibe scored) and most importantly……….we beat Southampton at their place. These are the stories we will tell our grandchildren and they are statistically more likely to tell theirs than they are to see it themselves.

It is for that reason – whatever our individual criticisms of his last few years – that we are forever indebted to Eddie Howe for giving us the most magical of journeys. Whether he will stay to re-establish his legacy with a stadium and training ground is a little up in the air but his greatest gift is to a generation of Bournemouth fans and fans of small clubs up and down the country - the belief that anything is possible. We might be back with sparse crowds losing at home to Rochdale but we will have a smile inside and when people ask the next generation ‘ do you ever think you could play in the top league’ they will answer ‘yeah………of course’.

Whether Eddie stays or goes there is no better legacy than that.
Cracking report Neil, I can't fault a word of it (and you know I would if I could ;)). Tbf I rarely disagree with your match analysis but I also think you've got the tone of the verdict spot on. It's a strange feeling and I don't feel anything like as angry/upset at relegation as I did after some of the soul destroying performances we've seen this season.

We went down fighting (belatedly) and go into a league that we know is brilliant and without some of the things that are so irritating about the top flight.

The highlighted bit is something I was thinking yesterday. These really are interesting times, more so than if we'd stayed up, which let's face it had become very dull.
 
#39
Thanks Neil. Spot on. The last 5 seasons have been an experience most on this board thought we would never have. We'll be forever thankful for the memories, no-one can take them away. then look ahead. It's going to be hectic! A very short close season followed by 46 games in a shorter than usual season, with far less disparity between most of the teams. Bring it on, I say, and let's all hope we revert to the type of football that got us promoted in the first place, whoever is at the helm.
 
#40
Thanks Neil - great report. Quite emotional. There's so much in the past 2 seasons that hasn't been enjoyable. So let's hope we can recapture the magic in the Championship.