Had it not been for Leicester City’s fairy-tale run to the Premier League title then it is likely Bournemouth would have enjoyed far more praise for their debut Premier League season.
Eddie Howe’s side – favourites to finish bottom before a ball had been kicked – never looked in serious relegation trouble and, despite a dire run to finish the campaign, still ended up five points ahead of Newcastle United in 16th position.
Survival will again be the priority this season but Cherries fans will approach the new season in expectation rather than hope this time around.
Reasons to be cheerful:
Last season Howe thought his side could stay up but this time he knows it is possible. Bournemouth have splashed the cash this summer bringing in the likes of Jordon Ibe and Brad Smith from Liverpool and the highly rated Lewis Cook from Leeds. The intimate Vitality Stadium remains a fortress.
Reasons to be fearful:
The dreaded second season syndrome. Bournemouth’s key strengths last term were team spirit and an underdog mentality but will they be able to replicate that this time around now that Everest has been conquered?
The club have also invested a large amount of money on two players with relatively little Premier League experience so the question is whether they will be able to justify their transfer fees.
Jordon Ibe (Liverpool, £15m), Lys Mousset (Le Havre, £5.4m), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham, £0.75m), Nathan Ake (Chelsea, loan), Lewis Cook (Leeds, £10m), Brad Smith (Liverpool, £6m).
Out the door:
Jayden Stockley (Aberdeen, free), Sylvain Distin (released), Tommy Elphick (Aston Villa, £3.6m), Matt Ritchie (Newcastle, £12m), Lee Tomlin (Bristol City, £3m), Glenn Murray (Brighton, Loan), Jon Muleba (released), Mason Walsh (released), Stephane Zubar (released), Josh Wakefield (released), Josh Carmichael (released), Joe Quigley (Gillingham, loan), Harry Cornick (Leyton Orient, loan).
Callum Wilson – The striker’s season was ruined by injury last term but he remains the Cherries biggest goal threat.
One to watch:
Nathan Ake – The on-loan defender shone at Watford last season and will be keen to continue his development at the Vitality Stadium.
First five games:
Manchester United (H), West Ham (A), Crystal Palace (A), West Brom (H), Manchester City (A).