Just in the nick of time before Monsieur Salut beetles off to Krakow for a long weekend, Steve Jenkins* from the Bournemouth fan site Tales From the South End comes up with the goods for our regular Who Are You feature. He’d take Jermain Defoe back to Bournemouth in a heartbeat and worries about the threat he could pose in Saturday’s game. And he is a strong admirer of Big Sam. Sadly, he believes only one of ours teams will survive this season and that it won’t be Sunderland …
Salut! Sunderland: Have Bournemouth done pretty much as expected or do you feel your play merits a higher position?
Steve: My expectation for the season was survival. The injuries made a big dent in these initially but the team has come back fighting and the outcome is still the same. There have been moments when we should have got more (Liverpool – A) and we have been lucky on occasions (West Brom – A). So it seems everything has evened itself out.
And hand on heart, are you going to survive – and if so, why?
Of course. I have always believed we would stay up. After the initial injury crisis it looked difficult, but we have bought a few players in the transfer window and I think we will have enough to finish on 40 points
Callum Wilson led us a merry dance in the game at your place. How much have you missed him, who have been the players who have given you most hope and where are the weaknesses?
He has undoubtedly been missed, but as the season has gone on the blow has been softened by the emergence of Josh King and more recently Benik Afobe. Goals are what are needed to survive. We are now letting in a lot less and scoring a few so all is good.
What has a half-season in the Premier League told you about the differences with the Championship?
It’s a cliché but it’s the finishing that makes the difference. Goals get you points and Premier League teams (well most of them) have some very talented players who are top class and can change a game in the blink of an eye. The recent game against West Ham is a perfect example of this. Two world class free-kicks and West Ham get all three points.
Your best moment this season, and lowest – and as a Bournemouth supporter over the years?
Getting our first Premier League win against West Ham was pretty special. The lowest moment has to be Callum Wilson and Max Gradel getting injured. Greatest AFCB moment ever (better than getting promoted to the PL in my opinion) was Steve Fletcher scoring against Grimsby in 2009 to ensure our Football League status. Lowest moment outside the Premier League, anything when Jimmy Quinn was in charge.
Best ref, worst you’ve experienced this season?
I don’t take much notice of the referee unless he’s completely incompetent and no referee stand outs. So I guess that means that they have all been all right.
Were you surprised at how bad we were in that first game between us?
A little. John O’Shea was injured and the defensive partnership (Kaboul & Coates I think) looked like a pairing who hadn’t played together much and did not have a good day. Matt Ritchie scored a wonder strike to make it 2-0 and Sunderland never looked like getting anything from the game from that point onwards
Is there anyone in our squad you would take for the Cherries (there have been persistent rumours about Defoe but, as I write, Big Sam says he’s going nowhere)?
Big fan of Jermain Dafoe and would happily take him back, He may not be at his peak anymore but still has an eye for goal.
Your broader thoughts on Sunderland – the club, fans, city and Sam?
Living so far south I have never been to Sunderland. Went somewhere near on my way to Scotland once. But, I do have a mate who is from sunny Sunderland, so sort of have a soft spot for them. The fans deserve better, whoever is in charge of the club needs to get it right and make them an established Premier League club. As for Big Sam, we are fans. He is not a fashionable manager, but he does a good job wherever he goes (mostly). How good would he be if he was at Chelsea? He makes sure his teams are hard to beat and when given the opportunity gets his teams playing good football.
Has the Premier experience changed any of your thoughts on diving and other forms of cheating? Which gets up your nose most and how would you stamp it out – unless you just feel it’s gone so far we may as well just accept it as part of the modern game?
I thought we would see more diving in the Premier League but I cannot remember many occasions where it has been blatant. The referees are definitely more fussy but in general get most things right. It’s good to see the yellow card coming out for diving.
What should Bournemouth and other clubs, or the FA/UEFA/FIFA, do to improve the matchday experience of ordinary supporters?
Sky Sports have tried to add a little panache to games, but we only saw the shooting flames against Villa in the opening game of the season. I think the fans need to make their own match day experience, before they get to the ground. Once inside the ground, there is little I want to do but watch the match.
What will be the finishing top four?
Hoping it will be Arsenal followed by Leicester and ideally anyone who’s not from Manchester, Liverpool and North London. Would be nice to see Crystal Palace and Everton finish third and fourth.
And the bottom three? if not mentioned, where will our clubs finish?
Man City, Man United and Chelsea. I wish. I think it will be Villa, Norwich and I’m afraid to say it but Sunderland.
Will you be at our game? What will be the score?
It seems unlikely. Guess I’m not diehard (or rich) enough to make the trip. What will the score be? This is a difficult question. I reckon we will win, but it’s so difficult to judge. If both teams turn up on the day it will be a good game. Reckon we have better goalscorers, but Defoe might have one of those days where he turns back the clock. Let’s hope not. I’m going for a 3-1 to the mighty AFC Bournemouth.
Steve on himself: I’ve been a Cherries fan for more than 30 years and have run Tales From The South End (www.thesouthend.co.uk) since 2003. Its mission is to tell fans tales and the site has branched out to include reports, videos, opinion, comment and features (http://www.thesouthend.co.uk/blog/afc-bournemouth-the-probability-of-premier-league-survival/) on the now and past. Enjoying the good times and almost forgetting the bad.
Interview: Colin Randall