Everyone loves Bournemouth don’t they?
Attractive to watch ✔ Fairytale bounce back from financial oblivion ✔ Good old ‘Arry as former manager ✔
Whether you do or don’t feel the love, Saturday’s first match-up of the season between two of the promoted sides offers up the chance to see the respective progression since last season.
It’s the clash of the youngest managers in the league with a combined age equal to that of Alex Ferguson.
Last season, after a hard fought 1-1 at our place under Neil Adams, Cameron Jerome smashed home a glorious winner at their place with Alex Neil not yet measured up for his trademark track suit on the touchline.
Enjoy that Cameron Jerome special one more time and hope it inspires our main man to repeat the trick on Saturday.
Jerome was recently singled out on the BBC Sport website as a striker out of his depth at this level.
Out of order BBC*. He has in fact scored 30 goals at this level in 177 games for previous teams. Not a great strike rate but he was under McLeish at Birmingham, and Pulis at Stoke and Palace – not two of the most forward-thinking coaches of our time.
(*Note: A more factually accurate choice would have been Troy Deeney who has yet to score at this level.)
Jerome is far more experienced than either Glenn Murray or Dwight Gayle – recent transfer targets. Clearly he can cut it even if chances have gone begging for us so far, but for the worst refereeing decision of this season or any before he would have one goal to his name.
He also has new competition from Mbokani which should give him an extra spur to add to his Premier tally.
Maybe we will see a rare outing for Kyle ‘get the garden hose, he’s on fire’ Lafferty after his heroics for Northern Ireland?
Lafferty has done superbly in the green of his country, but taking the quality of their opposition into account – mid-Championship standard at best – I’m still not sure he’s even in front of Gary Hooper on the bench.
Both sides, with the exception of one game, have struggled to score to date – similarly with Watford. All three sets of fans knew it wasn’t going to be such a goal fest as last season.
Both teams have won one and lost two from their opening four matches, but many a Canary has looked on enviously at the relatively greater transfer activity on the south coast. That’s what a Russian billionaire can do for you.
They seem to have strengthened their Championship squad well although, as with us, the personnel of last season have been largely trusted so far.
The Tyrone Mings transfer fee still leaves you scratching your head. Mings and fellow new signing Max Gradel are now long term injuries but, as with last season, Eddie Howe’s fast and fluid ethic will pose a big test of our much-maligned back four.
I’m sure Alex Neil has a cunning tactical plan drawn up to deal with their threat.
Southampton was a just a bad blip surely? Just one of those days where the boys were off the boil and events conspired against us.
Quick detour via the time machine:
The two clubs have a number of shared illustrious ex-alumni since 1972 when AFC Bournemouth was born out of the ashes of Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic FC.
Indeed, John Bond was their manager back then with one Ken Brown on his backroom staff. Both headed east the following year.
Bond Jr. (Kevin) played for both and managed the Cherries. So too Mel Machin.
Ted MacDougall and Phil Boyer were a formidable partnership there in the early-70s before teaming up in Norfolk as the strains of prog rock died out and punk rock began to shock the nation.
‘Super Mac’ once scored 9… yes NINE in one FA cup match for them. Not surprisingly it’s still a record, and Dean Court has a stand named in his honour.
Likewise, Kevin Reeves and Efan Ekoku – strikers from different generations who made the journey from down there to over here. And of course, most recently, there’s ‘bad boy’ Lewis Grabban.
Apart from last season’s match-ups, since 1960 the two clubs have only met in a two-leg first round League Cup tie back in 2000 with our boys coming out on top 2-1 on aggregate. Peter Grant was their player-coach then; another link in the chain stretching from Dorset to Norfolk.
In fact, we haven’t lost to the Cherries since 1959!
All of this however counts for diddly squat come 3pm tomorrow.
The first ever top flight meeting between Norwich and Bournemouth promises to be a rollicking good game of football.