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30th Aug 2022

Football can be excruciatingly dumb sometimes

Patrick McCarry

Scott Parker

“I would like to place on record my gratitude to Scott… “

At least Scott Parker got some thanks for guiding Bournemouth back to the Premier League, in the same statement that let the world knew he was getting sacked after four games.

After failing to fire with Jason Tindall, who replaced Eddie Howe, then Jonathan Woodgate, the Cherries turned to Parker in June 2021 and asked him to lead the club back to the Premier League. He duly delivered and was hoping the club would strengthen his squad for the inevitable challenges of a return to top-flight football.

Bournemouth, instead, got 17 players off their books, including Gary Cahill and Robbie Brady, and brought in seven new faces, including Chris Francis (from North Leigh) and Dominic Sadi (from Wingate & Finchley).

The club’s big summer moves have seen Ryan Fredericks (West Ham), Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough) and Marcos Senesi (Feyenoord). With several signings being free transfers, the club has outlaid £25 million on Tavernier and Senesi to try bolster their squad.

Parker will have looked on as Nottingham Forest made 18 [and presumably counting] new signings and Fulham brought in Shane Duffy, Issa Diop, Joao Paulinha, Andreas Pereira and Bernd Leno. The Cottagers are also expected to announce the signing of former Chelsea midfielder, Willian.

The Bournemouth boss erred when he spoke frequently of his squad needing improvements if they were to survive in the Premier League. He is not the first manager to share such grievances with the press, but he has paid the price. It was always going to be tough with a brutally thankless opening set of league fixtures.

Ilkay Guendogan of Manchester City scores against Bournemouth, at Etihad Stadium. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Scott Parker comments after 9-0 Liverpool loss

Bournemouth started the season by beating Aston Villa 2-0 at home, and being full value for that victory. Up next were three fixtures you would not wish upon your worst club rival – Manchester City and Liverpool away, and a home tie against a rejuvenated Arsenal.

The Cherries lost 4-0 to City and 3-0 to Arsenal. They then beat Norwich on penalties in a League Cup encounter, with Parker changing up his starting XI a good bit for Saturday’s trip to Anfield.

That game was a nightmare, for all involved with the club. While Crystal Palace and Manchester United may have profited against the Liverpool high line, using Wilfired Zaha, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga to punishing effect, Bournemouth started 6-foot-5 Wales forward Kieffer Moore up front on his own. The balls over the top were gobbled up and the visitors could not get out of their half. They were 5-0 down at the break.

In retrospect, now that Scott Parker has been sacked, the manager’s quotes after that 9-0 defeat signalled all was far from right. He was telling us that the club would be in big trouble unless more signings were made. He told the BBC:

“This is the toughest and most painful day I have experienced for sure. The touchline today was painful and I could sense it was for the players too. They need some help and in some moments the levels were too great.

“It was a really humbling experience, shell-shocking. The levels we are playing against and the quality they have is far greater than what we have at our disposal at this moment in time. I feel sorry for the fans and for the players.

“This division is ruthless,” he added. “It can leave some scars, the experiences they are facing. Painful, absolutely painful and Liverpool were ruthless.”

Asked if this will be the lowest point in their season, he admitted, “At this moment in time, where we currently are, I can see some more, to be honest with you.”

Scott Parker, pictured during his Bournemouth side’s 4-0 defeat to Manchester City at Etihad Stadium. (Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Big reasons why Bournemouth are reluctant to spend

As Eddie Howe found, long before Scott Parker arrived at Bournemouth, the club are in a difficult position when it comes to spending too big.

Their home ground has a capacity of 11,364 so incomings on match-days are so much smaller than their Premier League rivals. Also, the last time Bournemouth got promoted, in 2015, they made a financial loss of £38.3m in that first season in the top flight. For breaching Financial Fair Play – by over-spending and breaching the ‘maximum deviation’ – they were fined an additional £4.75m as a punishment.

Many at the club will be keen to avoid such a repeat, so the recruitment policy seems to be more circumspect. Parker was openly skeptical of the lack of transfer activity and the club has cut its’ losses. The following lines from the Cherries’ statement announcing his sacking leapt out:

‘In order for us to keep progressing as a team and a club as a whole, it is unconditional that we are aligned in our strategy to run the club sustainably. We must also show belief in and respect for one another. That is the approach that has brought this club so much success in recent history, and one that we will not veer from now.’

Parker rocked the boat too much and the club bumped him overboard.

He is the first manager since Bobby Robson, back in 2004, to be sacked in August. The timing of the move is just so excruciatingly dumb, unfortunately.

Bournemouth will now have to get in a new manager just two days before the summer transfer window closes. There would be next to no time for the new appointment to properly assess and chase up any targets that could improve the club’s prospects.

Whoever gets the job is basically being told, ‘That’s your squad. Go do your thing’.

Parker did what was asked of him when he got Bournemouth back to the promised land. There were always going to be heads butted over who the club could or could not afford, but pressing the detonate button after just four games is so needless, and silly.

Sadly, we have become so accustomed to these early managerial sackings that Scott Parker will be old news by 8pm this evening.

Do not be surprised if Sean Dyche is already on Sky Sports News by then, holding aloft a Bournemouth scarf and talking about digging in for a hard slog.

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