Ask your average man on the street who they think will be relegated from the Premier League this season and it won’t be too long before they come up with Bournemouth. The bookies agree. Betfred have them priced as 4/7 favourites, which is even shorter than fellow promotion duo Nottingham Forest and Fulham.
But why the long faces when thinking about those on the sunny south coast?
Perhaps it is partly to do with their recruitment this summer, or lack of it. As Forest have splashed out £63m as part of an impressive spending spree, Bournemouth are yet to pay for an incoming player. Ryan Fredericks and Joe Rothwell mark two sensible free transfers even though the latter has no prior Premier League experience but perhaps this stability will help those players that got them promoted.
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There’s still plenty of time for moves to be made but initially it appears that Parker will put his faith in those Bournemouth players that got them out of the Championship. Dominic Solanke hit 29 goals, Jaidon Anthony was superb and deserves his shot in the top flight, while Jefferson Lerma and Philip Billing have performed at Premier League level as well.
This silent summer so far is also understandable given the moves they made in January. With promotion a possibility but by no means a certainty in winter, Bournemouth went big to guarantee one of the automatic promotion spots. Todd Cantwell, Siriki Dembele, James Hill, Kieffer Moore and Nat Phillips all came through the door for £7m, with Phillips’ loan fee of £1.75m catching the eye as somewhat of a gamble.
But it was a gamble that paid off as a second place finish was secured and although Cantwell and Phillips have since returned to their parent clubs, it was £7m well spent. But with Phillips, Ibsen Rossi and Gary Cahill leaving the club, the Cherries are woefully short at the back.
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Parker at the time of writing has just three centre-backs and one of those, Hill, is expected to leave on loan. Captain Lloyd Kelly might be a wonderful football player alongside Chris Mepham, but we can surely expect major signings in this central area to provide depth and competition for this duo. Otherwise target man Kieffer Moore might be forced to fill in, as he did for both Yeovil and Forest Green Rovers in his younger years.
Jordan Zemura also looks like the only natural option at left-back although Adam Smith can cover, while although there are options in the forward areas, there are concerns about the quality the likes of Junior Stanislas can bring to the Premier League.
Given the way their current squad looks, it would take a Parker-led miracle to keep them up. But luckily for the Cherries, there are three weeks to go until the dawn of the new campaign, and they have a decent amount of spending power given their five-year stay in the top flight. If they enter the new season as things are, they will be an interesting marker to compare the likes of Forest against.
We've seen in the past with Fulham that spending £100m doesn't guarantee survival and while Norwich have taken that to the other extreme in recent spells in the top flight, Bournemouth's cohesion could get them early points on the board.
They’ve defied the odds to sustain themselves as a Premier League team before, and significant incomings are likely to give themselves a fighting chance. But does team cohesion outweigh new signings? On the south coast, they will hope stability reigns supreme.
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