He may have endured a terrible start to his Premier League managerial career, but Andoni Iraola is finally putting his stamp on his Bournemouth team. The former Rayo Vallecano coach has overseen a huge change of fortune for the Cherries in recent weeks, and fans are now beginning to look up the league rather than staring into the abyss of the relegation zone.
Despite the excitement of welcoming an exciting young coach to their club in the summer, Bournemouth fans were given a stern reality check in the opening weeks of the new Premier League campaign. Iraola’s arrival had seen The Cherries being popular in the football betting odds, but after failing to win in their first seven league games, fans and backers were fearing the worst.
In fact, in polar opposite to confidence behind the team in pre-season, the majority of Premier League bets on Bournemouth were now concentrated on relegation. Iraola and his demoralized squad had found some respite in the EFL Cup with two wins, but things continued to look bleak at the Vitality Stadium as November approached.
Turning A Corner
Iraola’s time seemed to be running out at the club, as fans began to turn against the Basque-born 41-year-old, particularly after a 6-1 defeat to Man City. To the surprise of many, however, it was this thrashing to the champions that proved to be the catalyst for a turnaround in fortunes for The Cherries.
??? Andoni Iraola’s Bournemouth have now gone 7 games unbeaten! Up to 10th in the Premier League. Top work. ? pic.twitter.com/ARaDLZrCYw
— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) December 26, 2023
Since then, Iraola’s men have gone on an unbeaten run of seven games, including some impressive wins, including a 2-0 home win against Newcastle, and a shock 3-0 victory over Man Utd at Old Trafford. It may well have been a terrible performance from a poor Man Utd team, but Iraola’s tactics were perfectly applied on the night, and they were fully deserving of their win.
Wins over Fulham and Nottingham Forest have followed and Bournemouth are now sitting in the top half of the table, their relegation problems now well in the rearview mirror.
Reasons Behind The Turnaround
There have been many reasons for the turnaround in fortune at the Vitality Stadium. As is mostly the case, the arrival of a new manager and a differing style of play can take some time for the players to become accustomed to.
This was definitely the case for Iraola, as he struggled to get across his ideas to a squad that had played a completely different style of play under Gary O’Neill the previous season. The Spaniard now seems to have got his message across to his players and they are now playing with a smile on their faces.
As part of his style of play, Iraola has become reliant on the hold-up play and goalscoring exploits of Dominic Solanke. The former Chelsea and Liverpool forward has been the main man at the Vitality Stadium in recent seasons, but the Englishman has taken his form to a new level this season.
Dominic Solanke hits double figures in the Premier League for the first time ?
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) December 23, 2023
A prolific scorer in his team’s two seasons in the EFL Championship, Solanke managed 6 goals in his 33 appearances on his return to Premier League football last season.
Amazingly, Solanke has doubled that total already this season in just 18 games. If he can continue to be as prolific, and Iraola can continue to prepare his team to perfection, it could end up being Bournemouth’s best Premier League campaign in history.