With Or Without An Award Nomination, O'Neil Has Worked Wonders With Bournemouth

O'Neil has guided the relegation favourites to Premier League safety with games to spare in his first managerial post
10:00, 20 May 2023

How do you know the Premier League season is drawing to a close? Is it seeing Pep Guardiola’s formidable Manchester City edge towards yet another title? Is it seeing the likes of transfer guru Fabrizio Romano letting you know which players your club is chasing in the summer? Often the biggest indication is when the Premier League announce their shortlists for the end of season awards.

On Thursday afternoon, the Premier League revealed the nominees for Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season and Manager of the Season. Fans and pundits always exchange their opinions on those who are selected and those who are not, which can sometimes lead to heated exchanges on social media.

The shortlist for the managerial award consisted of Mikel Arteta (Arsenal), Roberto De Zerbi (Brighton & Hove Albion), Unai Emery (Aston Villa), Pep Guardiola (Manchester City), Eddie Howe (Newcastle United) and Marco Silva (Fulham).


There is no questioning that all the coaches up for the award have fully merited their nominations. But where the hell is AFC Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil?

The former midfielder was thrust into his maiden senior management position with the Cherries at the end of August. He was initially brought in to take care of first-team affairs after the club had parted ways with Scott Parker following comments the ex-England international had made following their 9-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

Parker questioned the club’s transfer strategy and gave the board no option but to relieve him of his duties. This would have made his players, who were already reeling about their heavy defeat, feel much worse.

So when O’Neil arrived he had to deal with an extremely downhearted dressing room and had to convince the players to believe in themselves as he believed in them. Bournemouth were written off before a ball was kicked this season, with most experts tipping them to be sent straight back down to the Championship.

Getting stuck in immediately, O’Neil led his side to an unbeaten run of six matches when he first took over, including wins over Nottingham Forest and Leicester City, as well as a valuable draw at this year’s high-flyers Newcastle United - also taking a point against them at home in February too. To get such a run together, collecting 10 points, when in the three games prior to his arrival they had conceded 16 goals without a single point, shows just how much of a marvellous job he has done.

The season has had its ups and downs for O’Neil and his side, that is expected of a team fighting for survival, but they have shown great resilience to prove the doubters wrong. O’Neil has been able to pick up wins against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur to help the club reach 14th in the table with 39 points, safe from relegation with games to spare - no one made that prediction before a ball was kicked back in August.

With two games left, O’Neil has the chance to equal the Cherries’ second best points tally in the top-flight (45) which was achieved back in 2018-19. He has built an effective togetherness culture at the Vitality Stadium and now he can start preparing for another year in the Premier League, with the club hoping for a prosperous stay amongst England’s elite like they did between 2015-2020. 

For a first post in management this has been much more than a job well done for O’Neil and this could be the beginning of a very fruitful career in the dugout. He may not have been officially recognised on the Premier League’s own shortlist, but he certainly made it on the lists of Bournemouth fans and those who have appreciated the work he has done on the south coast this term.

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