Bournemouth were the surprise package at the other end of the Premier League table last season.
The Cherries were one of the bookies’ favourites to be relegated. Eddie Howe’s side had only just enjoyed their moment of jubilation – being promoted to the Premier League – before people were putting money on their instant demise.
In a season like no other in the top flight, Bournemouth defied the odds and not only hung on, but beat teams they shouldn’t have, played with a style that was admirable and increased the stock of their young manager, finishing the season in 16th position.
The club have now hit the high time at the right time as next season they will earn around £70m from the previous campaign and staying up guarantees them an incredible £100m share of the new TV deal. With an influx of cash to come in the summer, the Cherries now have the resources to cement their position in the top-flight.
One of the key facets of Bournemouth’s survival last year was the team spirit within the camp. The togetherness and mindset that Howe instilled in this group of players from the lower leagues was echoed by defender Simon Francis.
“Alot of the lads played in League One, the Championship and I can’t think of too many teams that have done that kind of thing – been promoted then put out a similar kind of team in the Premier League,’ he said in an interview with afcb.co.uk
“I think if you look at Leicester and what they’ve done this season, everyone is saying a lot of the reason they achieved what they did is because of the team spirit and their unity as a team, not necessarily their talent on the pitch.
“We don’t want to stop here, we want to build on that and try and climb up the league next season.”
Usually after an exhilarating first season, the penny drops and the phrase “being found out” becomes the dominant reason a club slides towards the gaping trap doors. Many club s before Bournemouth have slipped back into the lower reaches of English football in the second season and it’s something that Eddie Howe and Bournemouth will be wary of.
With the money in the game today, the club can put distance between themselves and the Championship as they look to add to their personnel. Three clubs will still go down this season, but the newcomers to the top table may just have enough to stay put for another year.
Bournemouth will need to be careful and keep that team spirit alive, as the top clubs are unlikely to be as inconsistent as they were last season. Top managers bring in top players, the likes of which most Premier League teams cannot afford to buy.
Despite a winless run of eight games towards the end last season, Howe will ensure his troops are ready for season two and there will be much to look forward to heading in to 16/17.
Although they could suffer from second season syndrome, they will probably have just enough about them to finish one or two places higher and continue their stay in the Premier League.