English Premier League outfit AFC Bournemouth has parted company with Gary O’Neil and replaced him with Spanish head coach Andoni Iraola despite O’Neil guiding the club to Premier League survival last season. The sacking has left many Bournemouth fans scratching their heads.
O’Neil took over the helm in a caretaker role on August 30 following Scott Parker’s sacking. Parker lost his job following a poor start to the 2022-23 campaign, with his comments following a 9-0 humiliation away at Liverpool proving to be the final straw. Many thought O’Neil was onto a hiding to nothing as Bournemouth’s porous defence left them clear favourites for relegation with bookmakers at Onlinesportsbetting.net. However, O’Neil had confidence in his ability and set about turning around the club’s flagging fortunes.
From Manager of the Year Candidate to the Job Centre
Bournemouth won ten, drew six, and lost 18 of the 34 Premier League games O’Neil was in charge, with the club ultimately finishing in 15th place on 39 points, five above the dreaded drop zone. Many neutral thanks believed O’Neil was a Manager of the Year candidate, but new club owner Bill Foley decided a change was required and acted promptly.
“Gary will go on and have a long career as a head coach or manager, but we feel that, at this moment in time, a change is in the best interests of this football club. I would like to place on record my thanks to Gary and wish him all the best for the future,” Foley said.
Foley has an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion and is best known for owning recent NHL Stanley Cup champions Vegas Golden Knights. The 78-year-old showed his ruthless side by sacking O’Neil and announcing his replacement only three hours later.
New Bournemouth Coach Was Highly Sought After
Andoni Iraola is the new Bournemouth head coach. The Spaniard, who turns 41 years old on June 22, has a glowing reputation in his native Spain, where he spent the last three seasons as head coach of Rayo Vallecano. Despite working on a shoestring budget, Iraola gained promotion during his first season, finished 12th in La Liga in his second season, and guided “Los Franjirrojos” to n 11th place fish last term.
Leeds United, relegated to the Championship this season, were keen on Iraola, but that ship seemingly sailed when the Yorkshire outfit dropped out of the top flight. With clubs around Europe eyeing up the possibility of hiring Iraola, Foley and his Bournemouth management team felt they had to act fast to secure the Spaniard’s services.
“With his contract in Spain coming to an end this summer we wanted to act fast,” Foley said. “He was highly sought after by other clubs across the continent, and his style of play has been an important factor in making this decision. His achievements in Spain have certainly been very impressive, and we’re confident that he is the right man to lead our next chapter.”
Iraola played 660 games as a right-back, with 510 of those appearances coming as an Athletic Bilbao player. He worked with renowned coach Marcelo Bielsa during his time with Bilbao and has credited the Argentinian as being a significant influence over how he approaches the beautiful game.
Under Iraola, Rayo Vallecano became one of the most effective pressing teams in La Liga, playing with a very high block and not giving their opponents any time on the ball. The high-energy style saw them draw with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona and defeated eventual champions Real Madrid, Sevilla, and Villarreal. Bournemouth fans have every right to be excited about Iraola’s appointment.