View From The Town End: Bournemouth

Jamie McDonald

Reading finally seem to be building up some momentum and with Bournemouth the latest visitors to the Madejski, it gives us a great opportunity to make it three in a row. Now that I've jinxed it, I'll hand this over to Peter Bell from Cherry Chimes who can give us the Bournemouth perspective on tomorrow's game.

How would you sum up Bournemouth's season so far?

It has been a tough season as every AFCB fan probably expected. We got off to such a great start that expectations went up fairly high, but then in the last 10 games we have really come down to earth with a bump! We have had to play most of the top five away over the last few weeks, including Derby at home. The fixtures have not been kind, but we have to play them at sometime. After the Reading match it looks like things might get a bit easier for us. Picking up points regularly though in this league is not easy and we had some real beatings early on away from Dean Court.

The home form though is what will decide our fate. AFCB have to win more games at home than we have been doing recently. The Bolton fixture was disappointing because they did not offer much, but took their first chance and hung on stubbornly and then had a last minute breakaway to make it 0:2. We have dominated teams at times but our defence keep letting in soft goals and our £2.5m South African striker, Tokelo Rantie, has only scored once since his arrival. What would really help though is if we can get a few more players back, as we have had a shocking run of injuries with many players out with long term injuries.

Eddie Howe took you on an amazing run to win promotion last season, do you think you've got what it takes to establish yourself in the Championship long-term?

A so-called AFC Bournemouth fan was virtually given directions of where he could find a seat at St Mary's (Southampton's ground) after he went on TalkSport last Tuesday night, after the QPR defeat when he had said that the board should sack Eddie Howe. Eddie Howe is virtually untouchable as far as I am concerned and should be given all the support he needs to stabilise the club in the Championship, because I think it is something like 23 years since the club has played at this level. Most of the team have no Championship experience and the couple of players we have brought in who do have Premiership experience were free transfers like Elliott Ward and a year long loan for Andrew Surman. Ward is currently injured with a calf muscle tear, which will not see him return until the New Year.

Eddie Howe knows the club like no one else and has good experience of the Championship having managed Burnley for 18 months. He plays the right way as far as Bournemouth fans are concerned by playing our from the back and getting the wingers to work well with overlapping full backs. There is no doubt that whatever the score on Saturday you will see that Bournemouth play very attractive football and are well suited to life in the Championship.

Eddie needs to be able to get a couple of players in January to bolster the squad. Much of the team he has inherited and he did amazingly last season to get us promoted. Now he needs the backing to buy the defenders to make us more solid at the back. If he can keep us up this season the future looks good for the club because our Russian owners have the funds to go into the market and bring in some more quality this summer. This season is all about survival and we have the right man at the helm to try and achieve that.

Ian Harte signed for yourselves after his release from Reading, how have you viewed him so far?

Ian has not had that many opportunities to play because of the form of Charlie Daniels who is one of our best players. At first, Ian did get a bit of a run at left back because Charlie was injured and we had a good chance to see what Ian was about. He has a fearsome free kick and can put in some good tackles, but his positioning was not the best shall we say in some of those early games. He was maybe a little less match fit than he would have liked and he has since had some better games. It was a masterstroke to play him in the Leeds away game where he really did a good job even though it was another defeat. That was probably his best game and he is still a legend at Elland Road. I doubt he will get on the field at the Madejeski stadium unless there is an injury to Daniels. I think his pace may well have gone now but his experience and knowledge of the game is important for our young team and they will be learning from him in training every week.

Any fond memories of Bournemouth v Reading?

My first Bournemouth match as a fan was against Reading at home in the FA Cup in 1981. We won the game 1:0, but I can't remeber who scored. Nigel Spackman played for us then who went on to much better things at Chelsea and Liverpool. He was my favourite at that time. I think it was a shock result, because as usual we were down the bottom of division 4. At the time of the game Reading were in the old division 3 and you had some big names in your team - Neil Webb and Kerry Dixon.

Any not so fond ones?

You are probably testing my memory here as we have not played you that much in recent seasons. But the 2000/2001 away game was a real stinker for us. Nicky Forster scored in the dying minutes of that game to make it a 3-3 draw and then Graeme Murty cleared a Stephen Purches shot off the line in extra time. That year we finished just outside of the old division two play-offs by two points which was rather annoying. We had a good goal difference compared to many other teams as well that year.

That season you also beat us 1:2 at Dean Court and Reading got in the play-offs, but it took you another season to go up looking at the records. You had Jamie Cureton who had played for us on loan previously and Sammy Igoe who later came to AFC Bournemouth.

Who should Reading be worried about on Saturday?

Matt Ritchie on the right wing is by far our star player. I could not believe that Joe Jordan at QPR said the other night that we don't really have any star players. Matt won League two and then League one player of the season in the last two years and if he had had a full season he would have been up and around the contenders this season. But he has only played two games so far having sustained an injury to his thigh in pre-season.

Anyone Bournemouth aren't looking forward to facing?

I am not sure if you are thinking about Reading players here or other teams in the Championship, so I'll give you a bit of both. I must say Billy Sharp will be a difficult player for us to stop. He is hungry having just come back into your team and I do worry about our ability to deal with top class finishers in the league.

As for other Championship teams I think we have played all the top seven, once we have played Reading. So I don't the AFCB really fear any team in the division. I feel that Derby were the best team we have played, like Eddie Howe said. But many of our fans have said other teams were better - Forest and Blackburn. Our difficult games will be trying to win against other teams away in the bottom half and ensuring we don't lose at home to them in the second half of the season.

Score prediction.

My head says a comfortable 2:0 win for Reading but my heart says perhaps AFCB can finally get a bit of luck and summon up a 2:2 draw in an thrilling end-to-end game. We have seen some strange results n the last few weeks with the bottom of the table closing right up, so I am sure our players will be giving it their all to try and get that elusive win.

`Thanks again to Peter and you can find him on Twitter @peterbell19


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