League One Lowdown: AFC Bournemouth
Feature by Jim Bonner
Updated Saturday, 11th August 2012
A closer look at the Cherries.
Chairman: Eddie Mitchell & Maxim Denim
Last Season: League One - 11th
Nickname: The Cherries
Portsmouth vs Bournemouth: Saturday, August 18th (3pm)
Bournemouth vs Portsmouth: Saturday, February 9th (3pm)
The Manager: Paul Groves
Pompey fans will know all about Groves as he spent four years as a coach at Fratton Park where he served under Harry Redknapp, Tony Adams, Paul Hart and Avram Grant.
The 46-year-old's only managerial experience came when he was at Grimsby Town where he also spent the majority of his playing career.
Bournemouth in-depth: Interview with Cherries fan Mark Shergold
What are your hopes and expectations for this season?
In recent times going back over a couple of decades Bournemouth have been constantly worried about finances, lurching from one monetary crisis to another every couple of years. Rows with banks, regular takeovers, insolvency and administration, the closure of Dean Court necessitating the building of a new ground, selling that ground - you get the picture.
So as a result every squad in recent times has been a mash of cast off youngsters and veterans from above, rough and ready potential from non league, and loanee youngsters (Pompey a regular contributor there). Sometimes we'd put together a decent blend and have a good season challenging (but usually just failing) for the playoffs at this level, other times the batch wouldn't be so good and we'd struggle against relegation.
Then comes along a mysterious media-shy friend and business associate of Eddie Mitchell - the latest in a long line of local businessmen owning of the club. This friend is Maxim Demin, a Russian petro-chemical and energy businessman. Suddenly there's money being thrown around like there's no tomorrow, and in the last 9 months we've seen unprecedented, unbelievable amounts (by our standards) spent on players.
It's all too good to be true and it probably is, but at the present time we have on paper a squad far ahead of most we've put together. Instead of untried kids and over the hill veterans, we've actually taken quality from other clubs! So if our previous squad building could challenge for playoff places in a good season, we really should expect an expensively assembled side to go better. A serious promotion challenge is the aim.
What do you think of your manager?
Now here's the contradiction - you spend relatively vast sums on players, yet hire an fairly untested manager? It's fair to say chairman Eddie Mitchell is keen to have a manager unlikely to rock his boat, someone a little unassuming. Paul Groves was part of the youth setup, having coached previously at Pompey for 3 or 4 years. When another ex Pompey man Lee Bradbury was eventually sacked, Groves stepped up.
Groves didn't have much time last season, what little we did see suggested some improvement. The side looked to have a more cohesive game plan and playing style than under Bradbury. It's easier to understand and see what Groves' side was trying to do.
Now Groves has brought in some of his own players this summer, he needs some time to see how he can really build a side.
Who are your key players?
Many supporters will say our squad is a little unbalanced in midfield, there's a lot of technical ability but not a lot of muscle, not a hard worker to 'get stuck in'. Shaun MacDonald is a midfielder who is no doubt technically talented, can also do some of the dirty work, so if anyone in our engine room can provide balance it will be him. Signed from Swansea last season, he's a real box to box type, the ginger haired lad buzzing up and down.
Marc Pugh would undoubtedly be the other key player, assuming he stays. Signed by Eddie Howe from Hereford, the winger is full of tricks and turns and is a consistent supply of both goals and assists. Constantly watched by bigger clubs, we may lose him at some stage, but whilst he remains he is certainly one of our main threats.
What is your club most famous for?
I would imagine that would be some Cup giant killing exploits from the past, perhaps knocking the holders Man United out at Dean Court in the 3rd round in '84 for example.
We seem to be widely known as a nice club who play decent football, producing some talented players who inevitably get sold onto bigger things.
Describe Dean Court for Pompey fans.
The redeveloped Dean Court comprises of 3 similar modern, clean and tidy stands. A new ground was needed but at the cheapest cost, hence only 3 stands! The ground holds under 10,000, and has much the same look and facilities as most new build grounds around the lower leagues.
It's hard to get too excited by it as with most new builds, but it's what we call home. A lot of development and improvement work has been done in recent years so the place looks nicer than it did inside and out. A 4th stand is under planning permission consideration at present.
The away end is one side of the East stand, running along the side of the pitch opposite the main stand. The amount of seats allocated in the away portion of the stand varies as per demand but give or take it's normally around 1300. You'll have a couple of kiosks under the stand serving the normal average pies and pasties. You'll have a decent unrestricted view of the game, and the stand allows you to produce some atmosphere.
Describe your rivalries with other clubs.
We don't really have a proper rival! Reading and Brighton were good for some local interest and some excellent games down the years but they've moved upwards.
We get pretty weary of Southampton supporters, and sharing the division with them season before last was good fun but we don't play them often.
There's been a little bad blood with the likes of Swindon and Gillingham down the years but nothing to get excited about.
What is the most interesting fact about your club that is little-known to fans of other clubs?
We became Europe's first community supporter owned club in 1996 following a supporter funded rescue from liquidation.
Predict your team's finishing position.
5th, losing the play-off semi on penalties aga
The Ground: Dean Court (Capacity: 10,000)
Photos and review of Dean Court to come later in the season.