Eddie Howe has done an amazing job at Bournemouth. When he first arrived at the Southcoast club in 2008, they were woefully failing in League two, now they’re competing for European spots in the Premier League. The Englishman has truly done an amazing job with the Cherries, but his situation still begs the question, has he taken them as far as he can? This may come as a surprise to some, but I think Howe can take Bournemouth further. How? I’ll tell you.
Here’s where Bournemouth need to strengthen in January.
Since 2012, Charlie Daniels has been bombing down the left flank for Bournemouth. In that time the 32-year-old has made a staggering 227 appearances making him one of the club’s longest ever serving players. However, if the Cherries are to reach that next level, there’s no time for sentimentality. It’s not that Daniels is a bad player, he just isn’t of the required standard of a top four/six team.
Although hard-working, the 32-year-old has lost a yard of pace over the past few years, making it harder for the left-back to contribute effectively in both the attacking & defensive thirds. Eddie Howe’s style of play heavily relies on width provided by full-backs and unfortunately, Daniels just doesn’t possess the skillset to provide the quality needed. Bournemouth doesn’t need a world-class LB, they just require an energetic full-back.
Nathan Ake made the permanent switch to Bournemouth in the summer and that was a quite a coup for the Cherries. However, a player of his exceptional quality needs a CB partner of equal standing. Steve Cook is a noble and brave defender but his positioning at times has left his teammates struggling. Conceding 18 goals in 13 league games suggests the Cherries have quite a bit to tighten up at the back.
Eddie Howe has coached his players to playing football in a more progressive way. He’s always encouraging them to play out from the back and keep the ball on the ground. That philosophy is to be embraced by everyone, including defenders. This season, Cook has averaged 46.4 passes a game, averaging a 78.8% pass accuracy.
You may be thinking well that’s not bad but when you compare that to his Dutch counterpart, a disparity starts to appear. The 23-year-old has impressively averaged 49.8 passes a game with a stunning 87.3% pass accuracy. It’s evident that Ake embraces his manager’s philosophy more than Cook. Just to put the cherry on the cake, Cook has averaged 3.8 long balls a game this season while Ake only averages 1.8. The Cherries not only need a CB with better positioning but a defender comfortable with the ball at his feet.
No team is complete without an energetic midfielder, something the Cherries don’t possess. All the greatest sides have had a box-to-box midfielder contributing to all phases of the game. Currently, Howe deploys a midfield pivot of Dan Gosling and Jefferson Lerma, a central midfielder and a defensive midfielder.
Club record signing Lerma has done his job since arriving in England, which is to break up play and shield the back four. However, for what he can’t provide in attack, he needs a B2B to supplement. The Premier League is the most physically demanding league in the world, it requires; pace, strength and power. Sadly, Dan Gosling doesn’t possess the physical traits to be that presence in the middle alongside the more than competent Lerma.