Was Eddie Howe's team selection against Aston Villa too sentimental?

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Pundits, players and managers alike commended, admired and recognised the pure footballing ethos of Eddie Howe's AFC Bournemouth as they were triumphant 2014/15 Championship champions.

A team ethic and style of play that each and every player throughout the small squad embraced and successfully adhered to. Playing fast-flowing passing football, that produced goals and wins week in and week out.

A team with no real superstars or individuals; no egos or prima donnas, just a belief and confidence. Winning promotion to the promised land of the Premier League was not a consideration for most fans, definitely not for the bookies and pundits at the start of the season.


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But a quiet confidence and belief from Eddie Howe and his backroom staff was instilled and then proven to his squad of players.

Maybe players like Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie took the headlines with their goals, assists and international recognition with their call ups for England U21's and Scotland's senior squad. But they were very quick to recognise the team and the footballing beliefs or ethos that was emanating from AFC Bournemouth's results and performance.

So the excitement and extra coverage that the team and manager received over the summer increased accordingly. Especially with good, sensible new player additions. Goalkeepers Adam Federici and Arthur Boruc joined promising defender Tyrone Mings.

Additionally experience in defence was added with Sylvan Distin. With other signings including Max Gradel, Josh King, Lee Tomlin and Christian Atsu on loan from Chelsea.

So expectation and anticipation was high before Saturday's first Premier League encounter at home to Aston Villa. Eddie Howe surprisingly picked 10 of the 11 players that played in the championship last season, with only new signing Josh King making the starting 11.        

Was sentiment clouding his judgement? Was he relying on a belief that the step up in quality and class from championship to Premier League was within the ability of these 10 players?

Was the Premier League experience of Distin needed at the back? Was the attacking flair of Chelsea and Nigerian international Christian Atsu needed from the start? Should the proven potential of Tyrone Mings been a factor as wing back employed for 90 mins?

Maybe an objective first team selection was needed. A bold 4-4-1-1 of:


Mings/ Elphick/ Distin/ Francis

Ritchie/ Gosling/ Surman/ Gradel

Wilson/ King

A disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to a Aston Villa team who could be a lower-half competitor is
not the best start, especially with Liverpool away as the next match.

Let’s hope that the majority of pundits and the bookies are correct and AFC Bournemouth will finish above the relegation places, playing their expansive passing football that is proven to create chances and score goals. Attractive on the eye for the fan and TV viewer.

Premier League
Eddie Howe

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