It did not take long to be paired up with one of the teams that dropped out of the Premier League this season, so ahead of the EFL Cup tie at Bournemouth, we had a chat with our pal, Ian Hensman.
Q. Perhaps we could start with your thoughts on last season, where did it all go wrong?
VAR disallowing every goal apart from the one goal it should of allowed (Sheffield United v Aston Villa). That and our injury list, the changing of the team to new younger players who lost confidence and form until it was too late.
Q. Now that the dust has settled, how are the fans feeling ahead of the new season?
Truth be told, a bit numb. Normally I’m super excited reading the When Saturday Comes preview, but a mix of a short close season, relegation, Eddie leaving and a lack of coverage, I’m sliding into the season without any emotions.
Q. It must have been difficult to see Eddie Howe go but is Jason Tindall the right man for the job?
Eddie was everything to us, difficult does not do it justice, as a fan, the week of relegation, Nathan Ake going to City, and Eddie going was as heartbreakingly hard as anything I have experienced in 30+ years of following the Cherries. I am not sure about Jason, personally I thought we would benefit with a clean break from the Eddie era, but I like the appointments in the backroom, and if the first month goes well, we will forget Eddie, if it doesn’t, it is going to be a long season.
Q. Have Bournemouth been very active in the transfer window? Are there areas that still need attention before it closes?
Active in one way. Outbound. From the starting 11, we’ve lost our keeper, star centre back, winger, and centre forward. It addition there’s been a “pruning” of the squad players. All up I think we’ve lost 11 of last seasons first team squad. As I write, no signings made, so an experienced old pro or two I think would be needed.
Q. What can we expect from Bournemouth this season?
Hopefully the team DNA will remain from Eddie’s time. That is playing attractive passing football, playing from the back at pace. It is a younger squad (the pruning took 2/3 experienced heads), so I expect some inconsistencies. I think we’ll make the play offs this year. More than anything, I’m really looking forward to going into each and every game with a chance of a result.
Q. We are keen to see young players coming through the ranks here at TEB so is there anyone that we should keep an eye on who could make the breakthrough into the Cherries first eleven?
We’re stuffed with young talented players. Lloyd Kelly took Nathan Ake’s place for the last couple of games of the last season, and didn’t look out of place in the Premier League, in midfield David Brooks is a player the big clubs have been looking at, and up front Dominic Solanke started to find the back of the net. Hopefully stepping down a league will help all three grow in confidence.
Q. What are your thoughts on the return of fans to games this season?
We’ve just finished winter here in Australia, with the second biggest state going into lockdown and curfew because of COVID. I think you’ll experience similar lockdowns back home throughout your winter, I think you need to start thinking that you won’t get fans back until there’s a vaccine.
Q. What do you make of Palace ahead of the new season?
You’ve had decent results in your pre-season (well, better than West Ham!). That said, you had an awful end to the season (thanks for beating us in your one win!), so a good start will be key. I think you’ve got enough to stay up, which I think with the financial situation bought on by COVID, will be the target for most clubs apart outside the top six.
Q. Name one player from each team that you believe will be a threat to the opposition in this match.
As I write it looks like you’ll be signing Michy Batshuayi, he’s got a goal every other game for you, and I would expect him to play to get match fitness. For us, Arnaut Danjuma who scored a cracking opening goal against West Ham.
Q. …and finallly, your all-important prediction?
2-1 home win
PS – I would just like to apologise to George Wood, as a 16 year old, at Selhurst in 1988 I gave him the traditional to the edge of the penalty box clap, then a naughty hand gesture. I got told off by the South London Police, and it has played on my mind since ever since. So, sorry George.