Cherries: Claridge insists Howe's men are not strong enough for promotion charge
DEAN Court old boy Steve Claridge admits he would love to see Cherries win promotion but reckons the sale of top strikers Brett Pitman and Josh McQuoid has made it a tall order. Claridge is a keen follower of Cherries' fortunes and says he has a real soft spot for the club after making the first and last of his 1,000 career appearances for the Dorset outfit. However, he is unpopular with a section of Cherries fans after comments attributed to him while he was boss of Weymouth claimed he had said the Terras were the only decent team in the county. Claridge has always strenuously denied making the remark but is always subjected to adverse chants whenever he is spotted at Dean Court. Now a successful media pundit, Claridge, a summariser on the BBC's Football League Show, has given the Daily Echo a typically-candid assessment of Cherries' promotion chances. Asked whether he thought Eddie Howe's men could go up this season, Claridge replied: Hand on heart, no. Not with what's around them. Nothing would give me more pleasure than for them to get promoted again and they would be my number one choice in League One. But, as the season goes on, I think their lack of depth will tell. It's very difficult and when you are punching above your weight, it is always a balancing act. People come, people go and people want your best players. Probably not now but some time in the future there has to come a point when they say no'. The club won't move on and the manager won't be able to keep doing what he's doing. He will also get frustrated because you can't keep pulling rabbits out of a hat and keep overachieving. Sometimes, you need a bit of help. Claridge, who made his swansong appearance during a 4-0 defeat by Port Vale four years ago, added: I am fully aware the club has financial difficulties and we are all thankful it is still alive and functioning. When all is said and done, the sale of players is a peripheral and even trivial matter. But talking purely for football reasons, you can't keep doing it. Their next aim is to be in a situation where they don't have to keep selling their best players. I know you are never going to keep everyone but you are talking about two good players, two goalscorers. Bournemouth haven't surprised a few this season, they have surprised everybody and people are still pinching themselves at what is going on there. It's fantastic. Losing McQuoid, you do wonder for how long it can go on but you can never write them off. They have clearly got something very special and Eddie has done a wonderful job, whatever happens this season.
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