BOURNEMOUTH, England — No one would have thought that AFC Bournemouth would be getting another season of Premier League action in 2023-24.
Gary O’Neil was the manager that came in after an awful start to the Bournemouth season got Scott Parker fired, and he did what no one thought was possible: he helped keep the Cherries in the Premier League with weeks to spare.
There were some pundits and journalists who thought O’Neil should have been the Manager of the Season in the top flight.
But the Bournemouth owners were not of that thinking: stunningly, O’Neil was fired ahead of the upcoming preseason.
“Gary’s achievement last season is one I will always be grateful for,” AFC Bournemouth owner and chairman Bill Foley, who just saw his Vegas Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup, said.
“This has been a difficult decision, but it has been made with great consideration to best position ourselves ahead of the coming season. Gary will go on to have a long career as a head coach or manager, but we feel that, at this moment in time, a change is in the best interests of this football club. I would like to place on record my thanks to Gary and wish him all the best for the future.”
Bournemouth was linked to multiple big name managers, but ultimately went off the board with its new hire: Andoni Iraola.
Iraola just recently led La Liga side Rayo Vallecano to an 11th place finish with 49 points, which was just four points off a UEFA European place.
Foley was excited to bring his new manager into the fold. “We’re so excited to welcome Andoni to the club,” Bill Foley said.
“With his contract in Spain coming to an end this summer we wanted to act quickly. He was highly sought after by other clubs across the continent, and his style of play has been an important factor in making this decision. His achievements in Spain have certainly been very impressive, and we’re confident that he is the right man to lead our next chapter”.
“We have identified a number of targets in the transfer market, which along with our January additions will supplement our strong playing squad to give Andoni the best chance to consolidate our Premier League status and keep progressing.”
But there are many people who do not share Foley’s enthusiasm about the 2023-24 Premier League campaign. Bournemouth had its odds slashed from +200 to +175 right after O’Neil’s sacking was announced.
“A lot of people started questioning what Bournemouth was doing when Gary O’Neil was fired,” Action Network spokesperson Michael Johnson said. “It was a little surprising, considering the job he did with a team most people thought was the worst on paper in the Premier League.
It is a bold move to bring in Iraola, but he did a very similar job with Vallecano, so it might prove to be a stroke of genius.
“Foley has been dead on with everything he has done with Vegas: they just won a Stanley Cup and have been to the finals twice in four years. If they spend some money, I think you can make the argument that Luton Town and Sheffield United are going to struggle, and of course, you have Burnley as well.”
Edited by Jim Williams and Daisy Atino