A year ago, Bournemouth appointed Scott Parker as Eddie Howe’s long-term successor. But after just four Premier League games, the club parted ways with Parker under tense circumstances.
For some inside Bournemouth, the writing was on the wall.
the athlete It was said that Parker’s dismissal was not a reaction to the 9-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday, but rather a reaction to his negative comments towards the club’s hierarchy after matches.
There was palpable concern in Parker’s words after Bournemouth lost 2-1 to Real Sociedad in their last pre-season game. This defeat prompted him to say the team was “too far from where we need to be” and “barely had any defenders”.
Parker’s post-match comments in pre-season, which will follow a similar pattern throughout the first month of the Premier League season, appear to stem from frustrations that have been building up over the summer.
So it came as no surprise to some staff that Parker made these frank comments regarding his team’s competitiveness just days before the Premier League season began.
There was an apparent attempt by the club hierarchy to get Parker to temper the defeatist nature of his post-match comments. It is believed that this came in the form of direct messages from owner Maxim Demin to Parker after the defeat against Real Sociedad. But losses to Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool, combined with the club’s seemingly stagnant transfer business, have once again exacerbated Parker’s frustration.
“I feel sorry for the fans,” Parker said after Liverpool’s loss. “I feel sorry for the players because we are a bit under-equipped at this level in terms of where we come from and what we have. It has been difficult.
“(The result) doesn’t highlight it (what’s wrong) for me because all summer that’s exactly where I saw it. There are players in this team that play with high quality but it’s the first time they’ve faced the Premier League and we’re where we are. We are in it.
“This is the hardest day as a player and certainly as a coach, this is the most painful day I have lived. I felt it was painful for the players on the pitch as well. I felt every single one of them because they needed some help and the levels were absolutely fantastic.”
When asked if the 9-0 defeat would be the lowest point of the season, Parker replied: “Where are we now, I can see more, to be honest with you.”
However, there was at least some legitimacy to Parker’s concerns. With Nathaniel Phillips, Todd Cantwell, Ethan Laird and Liv Davis all returning to their parent clubs and Gary Cahill and Zeno Ibsen Rossi leaving as well, Bournemouth have always needed some major surgeries before entering the Premier League.
Since the end of last season, nine players have left the club, and at the time of writing only five have been signed – three of whom were on free transfers.
Huge transfer fees don’t always mean good signings, but only Leicester City, who have not paid a transfer fee for the player so far this summer, have spent less money than Bournemouth in the market. Although the club’s financial situation means they cannot compete with other top-flight teams, it is easy to see how Bournemouth’s transfer business has thwarted Parker’s ambitions.
A source close to Bournemouth’s coaching staff said they felt at the start of the season that the team was too light and that good additions were needed across the board.
It is also worth noting that Parker’s tenure at Bournemouth was not without success. With as many as nine first-team players available when he took charge last season, Parker led the team to the start of the season in the historic 15-game unbeaten league. He was instrumental in the development of several key players, such as Jaydon Anthony and Jordan Zimora, while Lloyd Kelly, Dominic Solanke and Philip Billing all admired under his leadership.
Despite Bournemouth losing 9-0 at Anfield, some staff within the club insist Parker can still maintain his reputation. For them, there is a feeling that he received a very difficult task. The fact that Jurgen Klopp put his arm around his shoulder before the full-time whistle and backing up Parker’s words afterward only added to that feeling.
After the match against Liverpool, it is understood that many players took issue with Parker’s post-match comments, finding his latest efforts a strange way to motivate them. Players could not understand his position. This was seen as contrary to his style last season, as he was seen as interested and close to the players, and he was previously described as tactically exceptional.
There was a feeling among some players that he no longer trusted them and a fear at the club that Parker’s comments were starting to negatively affect the dressing room. It is understood that Parker has cut an isolated personality recently, has been reluctant to talk to his players off the field, and has been described as being in a bad mood.
These sentiments were also similar to some of the Fulham players at the end of Parker’s tenure at Craven Cottage. After achieving promotion through play-off games in 2020, the Fulham players worked well with Parker but after a poor start in the Premier League and new deals were brought in to bolster Parker’s side, they found themselves pushed to one side, after which they felt little connected. After relegation, he left Fulham on loan and the club wanted to call up these disadvantaged players again, but this would have been a challenge as relations with Parker were tenuous. Later, Denis Odoi described that year as the most difficult season of his career.
In Bournemouth, owner Demain issued a rare statement in the wake of Parker’s sacking that also indicated displeasure with Parker’s recent comments. This is Demin’s second public statement as owner, with the first coming just days after Bournemouth’s relegation in 2020 to confirm his ambitions for a swift return to the Premier League.
“To continue moving forward as a team and club as a whole, it is unconditional that we are consistent in our strategy to run the club sustainably,” Demin’s statement read. “We must also show faith and respect for each other. This is an approach that has brought this club so much success in recent history, and one that we will not deviate from from now on.”
With the summer transfer window drawing to a close and Parker’s thirst for new deals far from quenched, there has been increasing friction between him and manager Richard Hughes.
Parker was told the club could only bring in more signings after players were sold. As a result, many peripheral characters felt that Parker was trying to force them to make space for acquisitions.
the athlete He understands that the Bournemouth board have long felt they did well to keep Jefferson Lerma, David Brooks and Billing through the club’s two seasons in the second tier. In holding on to some of their biggest names, there was a sense that the squad was better able to withstand the rigors of the Premier League than when they were first promoted in 2015-16 and that a squad adjustment would not be necessary upon return. to the top.
Parker has consistently pointed out that Bournemouth are not fully equipped for the Premier League – despite the presence of highly experienced players like Adam Smith, Lewis Cook, Lerma and others in his squad – to the dismay of the club’s owner and managers.
The atmosphere around Bournemouth had been gloomy before the start of the season, and Parker’s impression of what the summer would look like in May, when he won the promotion, was very different from the scene three months later. He thought that there would be more money available to him.
There is a belief that his shift in style during pre-season came as no surprise but contradicted the principles of play established last year, when the team largely played 4-3-3. In the 3-5-2 defensive formation, some players were seen as handicapped in possession, due to a lack of options in front of the ball. This played with the growing notion that Bournemouth were playing to reduce damage almost immediately.
With Parker’s departure, first-team coach Gary O’Neill will take over temporary responsibility for the team and will be assisted by U-21 coaches Sean Cooper and Tommy Elphick.
the athlete He understands that Bournemouth hope to appoint a coach with a progressive style of play in the coming weeks. They want the new manager to use the kind of philosophy that works for the Bournemouth players and attract talent from all over the world to the club.
The club has resisted going down the path of appointing an interim manager for the remainder of the season, a role that was given to Jonathan Woodgate when Jason Tindall was sacked in February 2021. The current situation is thought to be different as Bournemouth have just about everything. The season is ahead of them.
In terms of relocation business, those close to the hiring team don’t expect relocation plans to be completely derailed — especially with only a day left of the window remaining. With the team still light, there is an expectation that players will continue to be brought in and some marginal players may have to relocate.
Parker has brought Bournemouth back to the Premier League, but with 34 games of the season remaining, his stay there is up to his successor.
(Other contributors: Jacob Tanswell and Peter Rotzler)
(top photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images)