Cherries: Take a bow Mr Bond
EXETER City and AC Milan. There is a common denominator. On the eve of Tottenham's huge Champions' League showdown with the Italians, Spurs assistant boss Kevin Bond was keen to get the low-down on Cherries. Eulogising about the club's recent fortunes, Bond felt sure Cherries would continue their impressive run by avoiding defeat at St James's Park. A win or draw, he thought, would set up Cherries perfectly for their much-anticipated clash with Southampton, Bond having captained both clubs during his playing career. As a former Cherries boss, his interest was to be commended, especially considering his rather shabby treatment towards the end of his reign. Sacked by then new owners Sport-6 just four games into the 2008-09 season, only the most optimistic prophet could have predicted Bond's legacy. When the bullets were fired, Bond was accompanied to the job centre by a certain Eddie Howe, one of his trusty lieutenants during his tenure. Suitably impressed and confident in his ability, it took Bond little time to spot Howe's coaching credentials and soon promoted him to his backroom staff. Unceremoniously shown the door in September 2008, Howe was quickly welcomed back as the club's centre of excellence manager. And, following Jimmy's Quinn's disastrous stewardship, Sport-6, coerced by director Adam Murry, took a huge gamble by appointing Howe as his successor. At the time, Bond, now reunited with Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane, was one of the first to predict Howe would be a roaring success. With Cherries cast adrift in League Two, it was a bold statement but one that eventually rang true as Howe plotted the Great Escape and then masterminded promotion. Cherries' success during Howe's stay in the hot-seat was achieved, it must not be forgotten, with more than a little help from a number of Bond's signings. And while the players concerned blossomed under Howe's tutelage, without Bond's keen eye and contacts, it could have been very different. Shwan Jalal, a relative unknown when he arrived on a free transfer from Peterborough, has developed into one of the finest goalkeepers in the club's history. In front of him, Jason Pearce, plucked by Bond from Portsmouth reserves, has this season established himself as one of the most accomplished defenders in League One. While injury has restricted Ryan Garry to a watching brief recently, the former Arsenal defender, another of Bond's acquisitions, has been pivotal to Cherries' revival. And while the circumstances of Marvin Bartley's exit to Burnley may have left a bad taste in the mouths of some Cherries supporters, lest they forget who was responsible for unearthing the one-time window fitter in non-league. The £350,000 transfer fee also came in handy. Bond also made mistakes, his decision to release Dean Court legend Steve Fletcher a case in point. However, while Fletcher proved to be a catalyst to Cherries' dramatic turnaround under Howe, his replacement in the summer of 2007 has also evinced his worth to the club. Step forward Lee Bradbury and take a bow the man who signed him.
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