It’s the kind of comment you would expect to hear at lunchtime in a primary school playground, not from someone who is involved in the running of a football club, especially the chairman. However, those were the words of AFC Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell during a BBC Radio Solent fans’ forum last Thursday evening.
The timing of the forum couldn’t have been worse for Mitchell, with Bournemouth selling key asset Liam Feeney to Millwall on Deadline Day and failing to bring in a replacement. This added to the already increasing frustration at the lack of activity in finding a replacement for Danny Ings who joined Burnley earlier in the window for £1 million. Many Bournemouth fans were very disgruntled that a very productive squad towards the end of last season was almost entirely dismantled, one by one. This was followed by few new arrivals, turning a promotion chasing season into one which could turn into a relegation battle.
This point of re-investment was raised at the forum with Eddie Mitchell seeming to dodge the blame – he responded in a surprisingly defensive way:
‘Lee Bradbury has money to buy players and both myself and the board are working very hard to find more money and more investment, the club is sat with a pocket of £1.4million in the bank to support Lee in the future. We are constantly working; just because transfer deadline has gone by it doesn’t mean to say it’s the end’.
This seems a very odd thing for a previously ambitious chairman to say. It defies logic to think that a club could still attract players of the required standing when the transfer window is closed, leaving the options as narrow as free agents alone. Unless he means that the club will re-invest the money in the January transfer window? That’s promising to hear, but the club could be in a much worse position by that time. After all, sitting 21st in League One after a run of four straight defeats isn’t exactly pretty reading for Cherries fans.
‘We’ve sold players because we’ve been pushed into situations to sell those players through their own success, most if not all of the deals that were done have been good deals for the club, it’s consolidated the club, it’s built the club and the club has got to be built from the bottom upwards, not the top down and that’s how I’m going to build it and if you don’t like it, go and support Southampton’.
That is the part that will really infuriate fans. Eddie Mitchell started on the defensive curve and then turned it into something completely immature. Of course he doesn’t want loyal fans to go and support their closest rivals, so why say it? They are the words of a man who was pushed and pushed and said something he will regret, also the points he is making don’t even make sense. How can you build a club from the bottom up if you sell all of the key players? Selling club captain Jason Pearce earlier in the summer then replacing him with experienced Adam Barrett is good for the club in the short run, but the chairman is not going to persuade anyone that Barrett is going offer as much to the club as someone eight years his junior.
The news got worse during Thursday’s forum when it was revealed that Steve Lovell, who had been plagued by injury since his arrival at Bournemouth in 2010, made the decision to retire – thus diminishing the Cherries striking options. Lovell had been injured for the majority of his only season for Bournemouth, but promising displays in the play-offs and pre-season seemed to have firmly shoehorned him into Lee Bradbury’s first team plans. The reasons Lovell gave for his sudden retirement the day after the transfer window closed was put down to his injury, but it is widely believed that he was disgruntled at the lack of re-investment within the squad.
Hindsight is a beautiful but ugly thing and Eddie Mitchell will no doubt be wishing the club had delved further into the transfer market, ensuring Bournemouth are still in a position to fight come the next window. However, what’s done is done. From here the current members of the management and playing staff need to come together as one, in an attempt to get through the next couple of months and be in a position to do something with the second half of the season.
Written by Craig Whittaker, We Are Going Up’s AFC Bournemouth Blogger
Craig tweets at @craigdwhittaker