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The Opposition View: Bournemouth
An interview with Cherries season ticket holder Mark Shergold.
Bournemouth have been earmarked as one of the contenders for promotion this season. Do you agree with this sentiment?With the unprecedented sums of money spent since January, this squad is probably the best group of individuals we've assembled in my 17ish years, certainly the most expensive by many times over. The key there is individuals though, we're yet to really see results from the money spent, the team is still yet to gel or look cohesive.Football isn't played on paper, but yes in theory our squad should be right in the mix. It's all down to the manager moulding a team though.Are you satisfied with your pre-season campaign and the signings your team has made?Whilst the signings we've made come highly rated for the most part, one 'missing piece' we've lacked for a long time now has been a real tough midfield ball winner.Paul Groves has spoken a few times about how he doesn't feel the need for one, most fans would disagree. So the fact that 'piece' is still missing from the puzzle is annoying. One 'big' signing Dutch striker Frank Demouge has picked up a bad pre-season injury as well which is a shame.As for pre-season, it was bizarre. When our problem is a group of individuals struggling to gel, friendlies would seem an ideal chance to get some cohesion going. Instead we played reserve and youth players for most of pre-season, the seniors sprinkled in here and there for the odd half.Paul Groves was given the manager's job in the summer. Do you think the board was right to sack Lee Bradbury and what do you make of Groves' appointment?Sacking Bradbury was correct, and it was done several weeks or even months too late in most people's view. The bloke just never came across as a boss or manager, but a nice guy.Groves seemed a strange appointment because if we're chucking money (by our standards) at players, surely it would be worth getting an experienced, proven manager in? Eddie Mitchell went with Groves, an internal appointment from the youth team with Mitchell's personal friend Shaun Brooks as assistant. Groves deserves time of course, but many are sceptical. There was some improvement in the few games Groves had at the end of last season, so maybe something to work with.Given that there is a lot of talk about club ownership these days, what are your thoughts on Eddie Mitchell and Maxim Demin? We know the former is well known for his drunken rants...Eddie Mitchell as you say has a reputation that proceeds him. He has embarrassed our club on more than one occasion unfortunately. A loose cannon to say the least. But he came in at a time when the club was in a real bad state, he deserves some credit.Max Demin we know very little about, apart from the fact that he knows Mitchell due to buying a millionaire pad in Sandbanks that Mitchell's company built. Without Demin we wouldn't have been chucking more money than we've ever seen at players (whether that's a good thing on or not depends on who you ask!) , and without Mitchell we wouldn't have ever gotten Demin on board.Richard Hughes has re-signed for the Cherries after originally leaving the club for Pompey. What do Bournemouth fans make of his return and are you excited about all the two-yard sideways passes you are going to see, as well as your disciplinary record go down the drain?As I mentioned we have needed a central midfielder but I'm not sure Hughes will necessarily be the answer. He was a classy player for us, but 10 years ago now. It will take him time to get fit so we won't see him for a bit. After the way he left us for Pompey, not exactly giving 100% in a relegation battle let's say, he's not the most popular. But we're all fickle, if he can get fit and help us out, then I'm sure the past will be forgotten. Perhaps a large "if"?Who are going to be the key players for Bournemouth in the match on Saturday?I hope Eunan O'Kane is good to make his debut following international duty, because we need the creativity he is known for. Miles Addison at the back is a class act.Judging from pre-season and your League Cup defeat to Oxford, what will be your main concerns during the game?Creating chances. The defence looks after itself mostly. We dominated possession but it was a lot of sideways stuff, the final ball wasn't quite there. Perhaps early season rust, or perhaps another symptom of the lack of team cohesion I mention.We also know how dangerous a side can be when it's back is against the wall, 'us versus the world' under an embargo with points deductions lingering. That's because we've been there ourselves and were a formidable outfit made of youngsters and freebie players and upset a lot of odds. Of all sides in the division, I would hope we would be the least likely to underestimate Pompey.Knowing the lower leagues pretty well, are there any players that Pompey have signed that have caught your attention in the last couple of matches?Djilali spent some time at Leyton Orient and has highly thought of.We actually tried to sign Dumbuya ourselves a couple of years ago on loan, but were prevented by a transfer embargo - doesn't stop Pompey! Pacey full back, better going forward than defending.Harley is an experienced head, been around the block and that will help your youngsters I'm sure. He was released by Notts County though so what level he's capable of these days I'm not sureHoward and Williamson should be class acts, they stick out as very good signings indeed. You've done well there.Rodgers is another experienced head, a bit of a journeyman striker but he's caused us problems in the past. Perhaps he won't have the pace he was once renowned for, but probably capable enough.How well is this Portsmouth side going to cope in League One? Do you think we'll have a good season or are we in for another relegation battle given the imminent points deduction?It's tough to judge the current Pompey squad obviously, I can't say anything about your teenagers. I'd say it doesn't look strong apart from the excellent Howard and Williamson. I would say you'll struggle based on the present, but I dare say reinforcements will be forthcoming at some stage? It's a long season, so plenty of time for Pompey to improve on and off the field.What sort of match are you expecting at Fratton Park and what is the score going to be?Hopefully a good crowd and lively atmosphere. Given Pompey's problems I'd hope we can get something but we need to iron out our inconsistencies. We certainly have plenty of quality, but it needs to produce.
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