Is this the end of Bournemouth’s Premier League journey?

 

The fact that it would feel strange to have a Premier League season without Bournemouth is proof of the magnificent job Eddie Howe has done in establishing the club as a force in the top flight. Since their promotion in 2015, the Cherries have looked right at home amongst English football’s big boys, purveying an attractive, attacking brand of football with an emphasis on young talent, all overseen by a fresh-faced English manager who does things the right way.

And yet, even after almost five seasons in the top flight, it feels as though Bournemouth are still punching above their weight. Given the fact that the club came close to going out of existence just over ten years ago, their meteoric rise from League Two to the giddy heights of the Premier League has all felt rather dreamlike – a bubble that lingers awhile before the inevitable pop.

That bursting of the club’s Premier League status is beginning to look likely this season. A recent 4-1 loss to Newcastle United at the Vitality Stadium was the kind of defeat that so often represents the death knell for clubs battling the drop. Bournemouth looked bereft of fight and ingenuity – the
characteristics that have chiefly defined Howe’s side throughout their Premier League journey. What was left was a husk of a once sleek, well-oiled football machine.

At the time of writing, Bournemouth are only a point off safety, but they have lost all three of their fixtures since the Premier League returned from its pandemic-induced hibernation. Two of those have been home defeats against sides Howe would have identified as opportunities to get points on the board – Crystal Palace and Newcastle – two teams comfortable in their near assurance of Premier League safety for next season. In terms of the English Premier League relegation betting odds, it’s not looking good for Howe’s side

The Cherries have been limp and lethargic in their displays. The attacking menace of Callum Wilson and Josh King has been all but wiped out, while the team’s defensive shortcomings that have dogged Howe for many seasons now are rearing their ugly head once more, and this time they aren’t getting away with it. Throughout their spell in the top flight, Bournemouth have often endured rough patches and runs of defeats, but they have always dug themselves out of those holes. At the moment, however, it seems that Bournemouth’s efforts to free themselves from the bonds of relegation are only serving to tighten the shackles.

Plenty of criticism has been levelled at Howe in recent months, some justified, some ludicrous. While he has undoubtedly made mistakes, to follow the trend of chopping and changing managers would undoubtedly be a huge error on the part of Bournemouth’s hierarchy. So often in the past we have seen clubs gamble by bringing in a new coach with just a few games remaining – a last desperate bid to save the club from the dreaded drop.

Such drastic action would be foolish for a club like Bournemouth. You only need to look at the example of Burnley to see how standing by your coach can ultimately lead to success. The Clarets were relegated in 2015 under Sean Dyche after just one season, but the club stuck to their guns, gave Dyche another chance, and were rewarded with an immediate promotion back to the top flight, where Burnley have now made themselves very much at home.

Even if Bournemouth are to return to the Championship, you feel that Howe still has the fight and the enthusiasm to lead the Cherries back to the summit of English football’s pyramid in short order. After all, he has served as Bournemouth’s boss for an incredibly long time. He led them from the wilderness to the kind of scenes few Cherries fans ever thought they’d witness – Premier League wins over Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, and a 4-0 hammering of Chelsea.

Whatever happens this season, the future still looks bright for Bournemouth. Although there may be a bump in the road ahead, it would be no surprise to see Howe leading a strong Cherries charge for promotion once again next season.