AFC Bournemouth travel to Carrow Road today with more than just delaying Norwich City’s promotion party as motivation for their victory.
They need the points just as much as the Canaries to secure a play-off spot as they aim for an immediate return to the Premier League. We spoke to Daniel Rose, who covers the club’s fortunes for the Bournemouth Echo, about what has been a turbulent season at the Vitality but one that is still on course to achieve the goals that we set out when the campaign started.
Canaries.co.uk: Bournemouth moved back into the play-off places on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over Coventry City, how do you rate their chances of making the top six currently?
DR: It looks like Cherries are hitting form at just the right time. That 4-1 win over Coventry at the weekend and victory of Huddersfield in midweek meant they have won five league games in a row for the first time this season and moved back into the play-off places. I’d say they have a strong chance of reaching the top six as it is in their own hands at present, they are not relying on other teams slipping up.
Canaries.co.uk: When Norwich City played Bournemouth earlier in the season Jason Tindall was manager, but he was sacked in early February with the club sitting sixth in the table. How surprised were you by that decision?
DR: First of all, it’s never nice to see anyone lose their job, especially Jason who had been with the club for such a long time. But the board made the decision they felt was best for the club at the time. Cherries had lost four league games on the bounce with defeat to Sheffield Wednesday and had only won once in eight Championship fixtures. For a team looking to get promoted, it was no surprise as that is not the form they require.
Canaries.co.uk: Jonathan Woodgate has been put in interim charge and has won nine of his 15 games as head coach so far. How impressed have you been with how he has done as boss?
DR: Woodgate was initially placed in caretaker charge following Tindall’s departure but has since been appointed as head coach. His current contract expires at the end of the season. You have to say he has done an impressive job given the circumstances. He came in to work under Tindall as first-team coach and found himself in charge after three days of being on the south coast! He admitted himself he did not really know anyone at the club when he arrived. But he has taken the opportunity with both hands and added some new coaching staff in Gary O’Neill and Joe Jordan. Woodgate still has the club well in the mix for the play-offs, which is all that can be asked of him.
Canaries.co.uk: Bournemouth are on a good run of form at the moment, with one defeat from eight league games going into Tuesday’s match with Huddersfield, what do you put that upturn in form down to?
DR: Like any side hitting form, I think you can see the players have a bit more belief. There is certainly a resoluteness about them at present and a desire to grind out results.
Canaries.co.uk: When the sides met earlier this season, Bournemouth played a 3-5-2 formation and, having taken the lead, looked to hit Norwich on the counter. What approach can we expect from the Cherries at Carrow Road?
DR: Having played a back three earlier in the campaign, Woodgate has very much reverted to a settled back four in recent weeks. Cherries will look to get the ball to their attacking threats in Arnaut Danjuma and Dominic Solanke to link up. Also look out for Philip Billing, the midfielder is now flourishing in a more advanced number 10 role.
Canaries.co.uk: Arnaut Danjuma had a good game when the sides met earlier this season. How key has he been to Bournemouth’s success this season?
DR: He’s the man of the moment at present and is in red hot form. Two more goals against Coventry have taken him to 13 for the season, as well as six assists. Danjuma is a player who can create something out of nothing and has been key to keeping Cherries in the play-off mix.
Canaries.co.uk: David Brooks came back into the side recently from injury. How much of a plus is that for Jonathan Woodgate?
DR: You only have to look at his first season with the club in the Premier League to know how much ability David Brooks has. Injuries and illness have hindered him again this season but to get him fit and firing would be a huge boost heading into the business end of the campaign.
Canaries.co.uk: Are there likely to be any other key players returning or missing from action at Carrow Road?
DR: Junior Stanislas was confirmed as being back from illness for Tuesday’s clash with Huddersfield. At the time of writing, only Lewis Cook remains out with a long-term knee injury.