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The corner flag at Bournemouth's Vitality Stadium

Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil the latest to fall

Monday saw the surprising news of the departure of Bournemouth manager Gary O’Neil. The club moved quickly to replace him with Andoni Iraola.

The news was particularly surprising given Gary O’Neil was well-regarded for his work last season. The former Portsmouth and Middlesbrough midfielder had taken over a 9-0 demolition by Liverpool. After that result, manager Scott Parker spoke out about the club’s ability to compete. Those comments as much as the result saw him jettisoned.

O’Neil took over as caretaker manager. The team performed well, picking up 13 points from 11 games. That saw the club confirm O’Neil as permanent manager on 27th November. The club completed a successful season finishing 15th with 39 points.

Why was Gary O’Neil sacked as Bournemouth manager?

Of course, that’s success in the context of a newly-promoted club. But Bournemouth owner Bill Foley is said to have big ambitions for the club. The confident American bought the club in December. He promised the club would stay up but it seems he now wants to try to push on to the next level.

Foley has been enjoying success this month with another team that he owns. The National Hockey League’s Las Vegas Golden Knights have just won the Stanley Cup. This was done just six years after being created as an expansion team.

Foley famously made a public prediction that the Las Vegas Golden Knights would win the Stanley Cup in six years. Now that’s come true, keep your eyes peeled for him making any bold statements of exactly what he hopes for from Bournemouth in the coming years.

Season of Sackings

This change for Bournemouth comes hot on the heels of a season full of managerial changes:

Bournemouth of course were already one of those majority of Premier League teams that had changed manager during 2022/23. Now they’ll have another new manager for 2023/24.

Most managerial appointments in the Premier League do not last very long. The majority of clubs are not consistently successful. Owners get very jumpy with the possibility of relegation. Despite the lack of evidence to support the idea, most fans and pundits still seem to believe in the idea of a “new manager bounce” and there’s often pressure to try and engineer a short-term turnaround by changing something.

The current set of Premier League managers and the number of league games they’ve managed makes for some stark reading:
Premier League managers by length of tenure, 23rd June 2023

David Moyes could possibly even have been sacked had he not won the Europa Conference League. If he was to leave West Ham, that would leave only four managers who have been at their club for over 100 league games. Only Guardiola and Klopp have currently been in charge for 200.

Who is new Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola?

After sacking Gary O’Neil, Bournemouth moved very quickly to appoint a successor. Andoni Iraola was named as manager within 24 hours. It seems likely he’d been lined up already. At the very least, the club knew exactly who they wanted.

The club will be hoping for more success than some clubs have had in similar situations. Crystal Palace have twice tried to advance to a more progressive style of football with a younger coach and push into the top half of the league. They sacked Frank de Boer after a disastrous four games back in 2017. The Eagles then recently parted company with Patrick Vieira and went back to Roy Hodgson this season – although I still think that was very harsh on the Frenchman.

Iraola, who spent most of his playing career at Athletic Club in his native Basque Country, has managed Rayo Vallecano to solid finishes in La Liga the last two years. Hailing from the same region as Mikel Arteta and Xabi Alonso, the Cherries will be hoping they’ve got a similar up-and-coming talent in football coaching.

However things pan out at Bournemouth, we know one thing for sure: Iraola won’t be the last new manager at a Premier League club in 2023.

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