After what has been an utterly extraordinary season, Bournemouth will ascend to the Premier League. After seeing off Neil Lennon's Bolton Wanderers in a stylish 3-0 victory, Eddie Howe's Cherries have defied expectations and reached the Promised Land.
However, it is one of their most instantly recognizable characteristics that could prove costly when mixing it with the best in the top tier. All season Bournemouth have been an irresistible attacking force. With their impressive haul of 95 league goals this year, seeing them flourish in their first ever Premier League adventure wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility. However, as previous teams will coldly remind Howe, their gung-ho style may be fatally detrimental to their hopes of Premier League survival.
That is not to write Bournemouth off before the most exciting chapter in the club's history even begins. Not at all. The Cherries have ridden the crest of a wave all season and there is every reason to believe they will find goals in a higher division. But it is not their attack that Howe should be concerned over. It's striking the balance between going forward and sitting back. Howe's players commit men forward almost by default, but recent years should serve as a cautionary note for the blazing gun Cherries.
When Blackpool were promoted in 2011, Ian Holloway's men arrived with a reputation for being armed and dangerous. Throughout the promotion campaign, the Tangerine Dream lived on goals. The Seasiders scored 74 goals in their successful bid for promotion and mobilized their attack-minded approach for the heady heights of the top division, thinking that they could score their way to survival.
Holloway's bold and daring 4-3-3 formation became increasingly erratic and unbalanced as Blackpool were relegated with the worst defensive record in the league. The 5-3 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park was the perfect example of Holloway's approach simply not being refined enough. While a flood of orange presided over David Moyes' men, their willingness to pour forward left them hideously exposed to a ruthless Louis Saha in the Toffees attack, who scored four that afternoon.
Howe is known as a manager with a scrupulous, almost obsessive attention to detail and a young coach who is always willing to learn more about his profession. His drive, talent and ambition have shone through in Bournemouth's brilliance this season and there is no doubting his style could be refreshing and exciting next year. However, he would do well to study how managers have altered their approach upon entering the lion's den before the Cherries come up against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Holloway's was a model not to be followed. Sam Allardyce, on the other hand, hauled West Ham back from the Championship and immediately re-established the club as a Premier League entity, finishing 12th in an impressive return to the top flight. Similarly, Tony Pulis guided Stoke City to promotion and they also finished 12th in their first season. It may not have been pretty and it may not have been exhilarating; but it worked.
Allardyce and Pulis are perhaps not the most fashionable managers, but their considerable nous on how to keep a club in the Premier League should be adopted, to an extent, by Howe. The Cherries boss is still only 37 and has plenty to learn about football management. The next 12 months will tell us a lot about the heavily-praised coaching prodigy and show his worth to Gary Lineker's claim that he could become the English "Special One." Lest we forget, some pundits observed last season that Sean Dyche could become the 'Ginger Mourinho.' Now, with Burnley looking increasingly certain for relegation, Dyche will be replaced by a man looking to make a much more lasting impression.
Howe's main goal should be to establish Bournemouth as a Premier League club; consolidate their presence in the top flight and then look to tackle the upper echelons head on.
While they have been scintillating in overpowering Championship defences on a weekly basis this season, that philosophy will simply not work against vastly superior opposition. The romantics will say that Howe should do it his way and if they do go straight back down, then so be it. But football is as much about adapting and learning as it is about merely providing entertainment.
The harsh reality is that Howe and Bournemouth will have to lose a bit of their attacking zeal if they are to survive.
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