I can’t quite believe it, but somehow Bournemouth have made it to Wembley. The glorious expanse of the national team’s stadium is soon to be graced with our players in the Carabao Cup final; the very same players tipped to narrowly avoid relegation at the start of the season.
Composed passing football, defensive solidarity and freedom up top to create chances are the hallmarks of my tactics, and so far it’s worked a treat. We currently sit in an automatic Champions League qualification position, and, somehow, are still mathematically in the title race. Whilst I don’t expect to be lifting the Premier League trophy come May, I would love to get my hands on some silverware at least considering how well we have played since September.
But still, the Wembley showdown will have to wait, there’s another crucial knockout clash to come first – this time in the FA Cup fourth round against Birmingham City.
Despite potentially being a tricky encounter, a rotated team managed to comfortably advance to the next round. An early goal from Josh King got us on our way, and two more goals helped round off an assured performance. Is another Wembley appearance beckoning?
We were drawn against QPR at the Vitality in the fifth round, so I felt confident of being able to advance in the competition again. But before then, we had four Premier League games.
The draw at Leicester wasn’t a great result, but considering how dominant the Foxes were a point will have to do. An unconvincing performance at the King Power made me slightly anxious ahead of the West Brom and Watford clashes, but the squad were professional and managed to pick up two clean sheets as well as six points. As for the away defeat at Chelsea, the less said about that the better. Chelsea dominated the game from start to finish, and could easily have scored five or more on a different day. Jermain Defoe added a late consolation, but simply added a hint of respectability onto what was a very poor showing.
A 2-1 win, and a place in the next round. It was a strange game, we dominated fully but were poor in front of goal with Josh King leading the line. Thankfully, two goals from Ryan Fraser and Defoe sent us through, even after Luke Freeman had poked home after a disastrous piece of goalkeeping from debutant Aaron Ramsdale. I don’t think the young lad will be earning a start again any time soon…
A home game in the league against Stoke ended in a 2-0 win, before the big game.
The Carabao Cup final at Wembley Stadium against Newcastle United. Bournemouth’s first chance at the trophy in their entire existence. Potentially my first trophy as a manager.
It started off as a very dull encounter, with both sides missing chances before half time. Even after the interval, shots on goal were limited until there were ten minutes left to go.
Newcastle were awarded a penalty on 83 minutes. Former Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie stepped up…but smacked his effort against the woodwork! The largest of all let-offs guided us into extra time.
Or did it? With 95 minutes on the clock, Stefano Sturaro hoofed a ball over the top of Newcastle’s defence and Defoe latched onto it. The veteran strode through on goal, rounded Karl Darlow and tucked away! In the last kick of the game, we had won the Carabao Cup!
With a place in the Champions League still up for grabs, as well as the FA Cup trophy, there is still plenty to play for? Can we add more silverware to our trophy cabinet this season?
Find out next time!