With one week to go in the January window, Bournemouth's need to recruit in the attacking areas was proved crucial in yesterday's home defeat to Hull City.
It was a very deflated Saturday afternoon at the Vitality Stadium as the Cherries were subjected to a 1-0 defeat versus 19th placed Hull City. The second half was a performance very far from the standard required if Bournemouth want automatic promotion. It was the first time we saw Scott Parker in a sense of disbelief as to the performance displayed, and as he put it, there was “no protection” for the players. Yesterday reiterated the club’s need to recruit in the last week of the window.
The full-time emotions came as a shock considering the run of play in the first half. It has been a turbulent period for Bournemouth over the winter season, but the first 45 minutes was as good as we had seen this campaign. Bournemouth played with intent and attacking aggression, giving Hull no chance to put their mark on to the game. It seemed as though their attacking rhythms were returning to the days of the unbeaten streak.
However, a common characteristic of the first halves this season has been their lack of ability to finish good chances. They should have been going in at the break at least two goals up, with good chances falling to Dominic Solanke, Emiliano Marcondes and Ryan Christie. As has been the case a number of times, they would come to regret their poor finishing by the full-time whistle.
For whatever reason, in which Parker himself stated was unclear to him, Bournemouth were flat and out of energy straight away from the restart. Where there had been little to no pressure in the first half from the away side, the Tigers were straight away forcing Parker’s defence into their box.
The winning goal would come in the 78th minute courtesy of a top corner finish from Ryan Longman. Bournemouth had 20 minutes to respond. The response was that of a team that was out of ideas.
It was perhaps the poorest half from the Cherries this season in a number of aspects. Body language showing little desire. Energy levels significantly dropped. Quality on the ball went missing as passes went astray and there was very little concern for keeper Nathan Baxter. Parker could not understand why and took all responsibility for him to now go away and figure out what went wrong, and what is the reason for the pattern of poor second halves.
One thing that was clearly evident, and an issue that Parker did not shy away from, was that of recruitment. Yesterday showed that the club are in desperate need for another goal scorer. Another prominent striker who can offer clinical finishing and either work with Solanke as a two or has the ability to make an impact from the bench. The end of the summer window initially had many thinking the Cherries had a strong squad depth. However, performances from certain signings have not been as hoped and the attack is lacking the necessary personnel.
Parker correctly pointed out yesterday on how heavily reliant the team is on certain goal scorers. 50 goals in all competitions. 66% of them have come from only three players, with Solanke dominantly leading the way with 19. Phillip Billing second with eight, Jaidon Anthony third with six. Anthony did not start yesterday. It appeared as though Billing was well off being 100% fit. So, the responsibility fell on Solanke as it has done so many times this season.
As improved as Solanke has been this season compared to last, it is unrealistic to expect the 24-year-old to be the sole person to guarantee goals. Where the Cherries were out of ideas, or where Solanke was isolated and not quite at it, there was nothing on the bench that you would think would come on and provide a real concern for the Hull defence. The ability to bring on a known goal scorer as an impact sub, or simply a target man for the back end of a game cannot be understated. Parker switched the formation to a three at the back and pushed Anthony alongside Solanke. This unfortunately did very little.
The club’s recruitment this window has been promising as they completed early deals with defenders Ethan Laird and James Hill, but if the club are serious in avoiding the play-offs, they need a signing or two in the attacking areas. Another known goal scorer must be at the top of Parker’s list.
Speaking in the post-match conference, Parker expressed:
“I think we need some help. We are a very young squad and have done very well to put ourselves in the position we are in.
“But I think it is fair to say that there’s elements in certain positions where we need help and quality. Hopefully over the next week we will be able to do that.”
Having questioned Parker on the need for another goal scorer, he told Nerve Sport: “Obviously it is a big responsibility on Dom.
“The goals and where they come are heavily dependent on certain players. That is down to us, and we are trying our hardest to support that. To try and give us more depth, like you say, so that we can change things in certain moments and certain aspects in games. Definitely in this window something we can hopeful try and address that.”
It will be a big week for the club in many ways. The players will now need to reflect. A lot of grudges will be going towards Parker, but there is only so much that can be done on the side-line. When on the pitch, the players must take responsibility, and they did the opposite. Whether it is a matter of physical condition or mental fatigue, the players need to react in a perfect manner. This may be the first time they see a raged Parker for justified reasons.
It cannot be forgotten yesterday and any sort of consolation must be the first half. It was very good. Quick football with strong intent and plenty of chances created but the following half will be but the centre of discussion. But Parker’s ideas are not being lost. They were clearly displayed in the first 45. It is now crucial the Head Coach pins down his strongest starting team and returns to the rhythm and consistency seen in the first third of the season, and hope injuries abstain from interfering.
Parker and the board must now be actively looking in the market which I have no doubt that is the case. It is the attacking area where this a substantial lack of depth and the Head Coach knows that. The signings must be his signings, and so far in his tenure, it appears as though he has been heavily involved. He must pick out what these team needs in order to help them in times of adversity and allow them to vary themselves in different situations.