The Opposition View - Bournemouth
1. What were your expectations before the season started? Would you have taken a play-off spot before the season started?
After last season`s club record 10th placed finish in the second tier of English football, expectations were running high for this season. Having said that - I think most Cherries fans would have taken a play off spot before the start of the season.
2. Why do you think you have had such a great impact this season after only recently coming up? Eddie Howe, the philosophy he has imposed or the team remaining largely the same? Or a mix of all of them?
A mixture of all three in my opinion. We are really lucky to have Eddie Howe, someone I genuinely believe is the brightest young managerial talent in the English game. Eddie has now had the time to stamp his footballing philosophy right through the club - from the youth teams through the development squad to the first team. That unity and common purpose throughout the club has been key. Also keeping a consistent group of players has been important - eight of the first choice eleven played in the League One promotion winning side.
3. I know it`s very tight up at the top, but what is your gut feeling? Who do you reckon will make the autos?
Stating the obvious it is looking like two teams from four now for the automatic spots. It`s going to be all about who can hold their nerve. Gut feel says we will do it!
4. The job Eddie Howe has done since returning to Bournemouth is absolutely superb. Have you ever had any concerns about any Premier League clubs eyeing him?
I reckon any Bournemouth fan that says they are not (even a little bit!) concerned about Eddie going elsewhere is being economical with the truth! What I will say is Eddie seems really happy and settled at the moment. He has a brilliant back room team around him, support from the owner and group of players that buy into his philosophy and are delivering the goods - so hopefully he will stay for a while longer.
5. Which Bournemouth player(s) are really excelling so far this season?
There has been an incredible improvement across a number of the squad at an individual level this season. If I was going to pick out three…. Harry Arter has added consistency and maturity to his game to become one of the best midfield players in the division. Mark Pugh has taken his game up a notch this season and has been unplayable at times on the wing. Callum Wilson has adjusted brilliantly in his first season at this level and has provided pace, power and goals for us up front.
6. If you could take any Reading player, who would it be and why?
I know he`s a loanee but Chalobah looks useful. He would also fit the profile of the younger players we brought in with a view to shaping and developing them. I think his versatility to play either in midfield or defence would be really useful too. Adam Smith who we picked up from Spurs has a similar positional flexibility that has been really valuable this season.
7. What starting XI and shape do you expect to see from Howe on Tuesday?
Eddie has been very predictable in terms of picking his starting 11. I think this consistency has been key to our success. Assuming no injuries I expect the same 11 that started at Brighton on Friday night - Boric / Francis / Cook / Elphick / Daniels / Pugh / Arter / Surman / Ritchie / Wilson / Kermorgant
8. Prediction for the game?
Hopefully the upcoming FA Cup semi will prove a distraction! Reading 0 AFC Bournemouth 2