With the Football League kick-off just days away, this series of articles takes a closer look at the 24 teams vying for the £100 million Premier League bonanza.
Tipped as likely candidates to go down last season, Eddie Howe’s men were one of the Championship’s surprise packages, at one stage threatening a play-off push before fading to a comfortable and respectable 10th-placed finish.
The loss of 22-goal striker Lewis Grabban to Norwich and the potential ‘second season syndrome’ will be the biggest concerns for Cherries fans this year, but, Grabban aside, Howe has done well to retain the squad that served him so well last season as well as make a couple of shrewd additions to the squad.
Former Everton and Newcastle utility man Dan Gosling will provide top-flight experience and cover in a number of positions, while Junior Stanislas is a talented and exciting individual who on his day is capable of winning matches on his own.
The loss and replacement of Grabban’s goals should be an issue of pressing urgency, especially as there is no-one in the current squad you feel could be as prolific (even if Howe will be hoping record signing Tokelo Rantie will finally come good).
However, Howe may wait until post-transfer window to secure a suitable loan addition if a permanent replacement is not gained in the meantime.
Under Howe’s management it should be more of the same again from the Cherries: a comfortable mid-table finish although probably without scaling quite the same heights of the table as regularly as last season.
Last Season: 10th
Manager: Eddie Howe
Transfers In*: Dan Gosling (Newcastle, free), Junior Stanislas (Burnley, free)
Transfers Out*: Shwan Jalal (Bury, free), Lewis Grabban (Norwich, undisclosed), Matt Tubbs (AFC Wimbledon, loan), Mohamed Coulibaly, Ryan Allsop ( both Coventry, loan), Miles Addison (Scunthorpe, loan), Josh McQuoid (Coventry, loan), Richard Hughes, Stephen Purches (retired)
One To Watch: Tokelo Rantie (forward)
Signed last summer from Swedish-club Malmo for what was believed to be a club-record fee, South Africa international Rantie has failed to live up to his billing.
Despite his popularity on the terraces, Rantie struggled to make an impact and find regular starts last season, appearing 29 times in the Championship and scoring three times - a paltry return considering the reported £2.5 million investment.
With Grabban’s move to Norwich, now is the perfect opportunity for Rantie to step up, make his mark on English football and, in doing so, follow in the footsteps of his boyhood hero Benni McCarthy. If he can fire the goals that keep Bournemouth up, then he will surely become a hero on the south coast.
Selected Odds: Champions 25-1; Promotion 8-1; Relegation 14-1
Opening Fixtures: Huddersfield (A), Brentford (H), Nottingham Forest (H)
*Correct at the time of writing
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