Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth did a wonderful job last season by staying up and at the start of this season and the Cherries made sure that they reinforced their squad adequately before taking on the challenges of yet another season in the top flight by spending a handsome amount in the transfer market.
There were seven arrivals at Dean Court during the window as a result of the deadline day signing of Jack Wilshere grabbing the headlines being the biggest of them all. In amongst those seven arrivals, there was a particular feature which made everybody aware of the policy and direction of the club as they embarked on the challenging journey of attaining stability in top flight and that was ‘Youth’.
Being managed by the youngest manager in England in Eddie Howe, Bournemouth are the club which promotes young talents in every sense of the word. Analysing the summer arrivals the first striking feature which jumps out is the average age of the signings which is 22 years and 6 months. Tottenham have the youngest squad in the Premier League currently but Bournemouth are also in the top 10 with an average age just 2.2 years older than Spurs. For a new club that has just gained promotion a year earlier, it’s a very big and bold decision.
As far as the summer signings are concerned, it would be fair to say that they haven’t exactly set things on fire at Dean Court. It must be remembered that very crucially the young players who came in were also not expected to turn heads right from the outset.
The basic thinking behind signing them was to have a long-term plan in place with perhaps the exception of Wilshere who was pretty much expected to get back his touch within a few games if he could remain fit.
Jack Wilshere has been slowly coming back to his best under Howe, the midfielder has shown some improvement in his fitness by starting games continuously for 7 weeks in a row for the first time in 6 years and completing the full 90 minutes for the first time in 4 years. The displays on the pitch have also improved and he has been solid.
Other signings in Lewis Cook, Lys Mousset and Nathan Ake has only featured once or twice for the team with little chance of allowing others to rate them. Jordan Ibe who was tipped to make a mark has been disappointing despite playing each of the 11 matches for his team. After his promising performances for Liverpool, it was believed that Ibe will take the chance of more game time and opportunities but it hasn’t happened till now.
The winger has remained ineffectual without registering a single goal or assist from his 11 games. The other two arrivals in Mark Wilson and Brad Smith haven’t yet made a single appearance in the Premier League.
They have been used in the League cup games instead where Smith and Wilson have both made two appearances with Wilson scoring once in those two.
Bournemouth have done decently in the league but the advantage of having such a young squad will be seen in the December and January period when games come thick and fast. The younger players need fewer days to recover and that might be a massive advantage.