Premier League preview 2018/19 - Bournemouth: Howe not relying on old guard in relegation fight

Richard Jolly is analysing all 20 teams competing in the Premier League and giving his verdict on how they will fare. Here he looks at if Eddie Howe can maintain Bournemouth's successful stint in the top flight

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JULY 27:  Eddie Howe, Manager of Bournemouth reacts during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Bristol City and Bournemouth at Ashton Gate on July 27, 2018 in Bristol, England.  (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
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State of play: Bournemouth have defied footballing gravity and logic alike. They were 91st in England when Eddie Howe took over. They finished ninth in 2017 and 12th last season.

They have stayed up for three successive seasons because of their ability to outscore opponents. Their defensive record remains unimpressive, with 195 goals conceded in the last three seasons, but an enterprising style of play and a commitment to British footballers, some of them young, has paid off.

Sheffield United’s gifted Welshman David Brooks joins the list of emerging Brits Howe has signed. Left-back Diego Rico is a comparatively rare foreign recruit.


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Key player: Nathan Ake – There was no surprise when Ake won Bournemouth's player of the year award last season. He had been named their outstanding player in seven of the first nine months. A £20 million (Dh95.5m) club record fee was soon justified, but it does prompt the question of how bad their defensive record would be without him.

Manager: Eddie Howe – Far and away the greatest manager in Bournemouth's history, Howe has done a remarkable job. His calm method always helps end slides, but it is notable that he has stopped being linked with bigger posts, perhaps because Sean Dyche has leapfrogged him to become the British candidate.

Talking point: Are Bournemouth's lower-league stalwarts reaching the end? One theme of recent seasons has been that, while some of Howe's bigger-money signings have not performed, remnants of their days in League One have exceeded expectations.

Yet Lewis Cook kicked on last year to reduce the reliance on Harry Arter, while Ake broke up the central-defensive partnership of Steve Cook and Simon Francis.

Now Rico could take over from Charlie Daniels at left-back and Brooks presents a threat to Junior Stanislas and Marc Pugh. Equally, the old guard have seen off past challengers while some previous expensive additions have not delivered.

Prediction: 16th.