Bournemouth hire Andoni Iraola after shock Gary O’Neil firing
Bournemouth have caused a huge shock as they fired manager Gary O’Neil and replaced him with Spanish coach Andoni Iraola.
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O’Neil worked wonders in his first head coaching gig, coming in to a perilous situation after Bournemouth were hammered 9-0 at Liverpool and Scott Parker was fired.
After a successful interim period in charge he was handed the job full-time and led the newly-promoted Cherries to safety with games to spare, as they looked like certainties for relegation. O’Neil cultivated a vibrant brand of counter-attacking football and they caused plenty of shocks with wins against Liverpool and Tottenham the highlights of a brilliant return to the Premier League.
But the South Coast club confirmed that O’Neil has been moved on as AFC Bournemouth owner and chairman Bill Foley gave the English coach a glowing reference.
“Gary’s achievement last season is one I will always be grateful for. This has been a difficult decision, but it has been made with great consideration to best position ourselves ahead of the coming season,” Foley said. “Gary will go on to 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.”
What is next?
Andoni Iraola is next and this, on paper, is a very impressive hire by Bournemouth. The Spanish coach has signed a two-year contract and led Rayo Vallecano to a very impressive 11th-placed finish in La Liga last season.
Iraola (who played for Athletic Bilbao and New York City FC, plus made seven appearances for the Spanish national team) led Vallecano to promotion to La Liga in his first season in charge, then the Copa del Rey semifinals the next season and a very comfortable midtable finish in Spain’s top-flight. He was chased by plenty of teams across Europe and this is a real coup for the Cherries.
“We’re so excited to welcome Andoni to the club,” AFC Bournemouth owner and chairman Bill Foley said. “With his contract in Spain coming to an end this summer we wanted to act quickly. 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.
“We have identified a number of targets in the transfer market, which along with our January additions will supplement our strong playing squad to give Andoni the best chance to consolidate our Premier League status and keep progressing.”
With players like Dango Ouattara and Hamed Traore making a big impact after their January arrival, plus the likes of Dominic Solanke, Philip Billing and Neto the heartbeat of the team last season, Iraola has a lot of quality to work with.
The priority for Bournemouth has to be to push into the top 10 and given the investment in the playing squad from American owner Foley, the infrastructure behind-the-scenes at the club being upgraded and now the arrival of Iraola, they could be the surprise package of the Premier League this upcoming season.