Bournemouth’s rise from the lower leagues to the precipice of the top flight has all the makings of a cinema blockbuster. With only two games to go and their destiny in their own hands it appears that The Goldsands Stadium will play host to the perfect Hollywood ending.
But are our leading men really the heroes they have been portrayed as? Is this really the rags-to-riches story every sports fan should get on board with?
Make no mistake, the meteoric rise from the very gutters of the English league pyramid to the cusp of the ‘big time’, is an impressive feat. But as The Cherries have moved ever closer to the best, and richest league in the world, their everyman appeal has dwindled.
In 2011, Bournemouth became the latest in a long line of clubs to be taken over by a foreign businessman; Maxim Demin has reached into his pocket heavily to make what once seemed a distant dream, now a distinct possibility. Last year the Cherries recorded a £15.3m loss, a figure that if repeated this campaign, would see them fall foul of financial fair play regulations, hardly the record of a brave underdog.
After an impressive season in the Championship, Bournemouth flexed their financial muscles by purchasing Callum Wilson from Coventry, one of the hottest properties in league football was acquired, smashing their transfer record; showing that this Bournemouth era is different to any in their history. In fairness to the Cherries, some would argue they were simply using the money they received from a sell-on clause in Adam Lallana’s contract at Southampton as well as the money accrued for Lewis Grabban, but for a club who so recently recorded huge losses and in this generation alone have experienced the heartache of financial mismanagement; it showed the reckless ambition the club now possesses.
As their charge to the Premier League looked as if it may be faltering, the plucky Cherries could recruit Kenwyne Jones on a measly wage in excess of £30,000, another twist to tug at the heartstrings.
On the pitch Bournemouth have wowed neutrals and pundits alike with their free flowing passing football and there is no doubt they have displayed some of the more pleasing play that the division has to offer. What hasn’t wowed an ever increasing number of supporters however is their preference to indulge in the dark arts; 15 times this campaign they have been awarded a spot kick, significantly more than any other side in the division. On more than one occasion these penalties have not only been soft, but have simply not been penalties at all.
Even with the overwhelming number of decisions that have gone in his favour, Eddie Howe still recently channelled his inner Mourinho by claiming there is a conspiracy against his players. Quite a convenient time for the leader of our heroes to put damning pressure on officials.
When Bournemouth do, inevitably, make the Premier League, it will undoubtedly be the football story of the year; lowly Bournemouth who have dared to dream and made it all the way to the big time.
It’s the feel-good film of the summer, pass me the bucket.