It may be unfair to suggest that the 76-year-old Roy Hodgson could learn a thing or two from Andoni Iraola, who is 35 years younger than the former England manager. But the manner of this impressive display that put Bournemouth level on points with Crystal Palace, with a third victory from their past four matches, suggests that the Spaniard in his first season of Premier League management was an inspired appointment.
Palace were outplayed during the first half when Marcos Senesi headed the visitors ahead and could not respond before the substitute Kiefer Moore made sure of the points late on. It was a chastening defeat in front of an anxious home crowd that made their dissatisfaction clear throughout and particularly at the final whistle, when one appeared to throw an object at Hodgson as he left the pitch.
The Palace manager is fortunate he already has so much credit in the bank although the patience of the club chairman, Steve Parish, will be tested if they continue to slide down the Premier League table having admitted before the game that “we want to push into the top 10”.
“It was a very sad evening for us,” said Hodgson, whose side face Liverpool, Manchester City and Brighton in their next three matches. “The fact is that the expectations are high, hence the boos. But the fact is the fans have been spoiled here in recent times, they’re used to seeing us do very well at home and get good results and this year we’ve not been able to do that. I hope they have enough empathy to stick with us when times are tough.”
With their struggles at home this season Palace have picked up just five points from seven matches and their intentions seemed clear when Jordan Ayew was denied twice by the Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto in the first five minutes. Yet having now taken 13 points from their past six, Bournemouth’s season has finally ignited under Iraola and they showed they would be no pushovers when Antoine Semenyo forced Sam Johnstone into a save. Poor marking from a corner allowed Senesi to nod them ahead from close range after the ball had been flicked on by Luis Sinisterra, with Jeffrey Schlupp guilty of playing the defender onside.
There was worse to come for Palace when the left-back Tyrick Mitchell had to limp off with a muscle strain minutes later. Justin Kluivert was close to doubling Bournemouth’s lead after leaving Joel Ward in his dust on the Palace captain’s record 292nd Premier League appearance that he will want to forget. An exasperated Michael Olise was fortunate to escape a booking when he chased back 40 yards to commit a foul after Odsonne Édouard failed to read his through ball.
Palace’s players were sent out early for the second half into the December chill, no doubt with their manager’s words ringing in their ears. Jefferson Lerma came close to equalising against his former club but his stinging shot was pushed on to the post by Neto.
But that was pretty much it before – in a baffling substitution with 20 minutes to play – Hodgson decided against throwing on the £27m Brazilian winger Matheus Franca or the striker Jean-Philippe Mateta in preference to the defensive midfielders Naouirou Ahamada and Will Hughes. Instead, it was another substitute who made the difference when Moore rounded off a flowing Bournemouth move to seal a deserved victory.
“We were really efficient and we are adding small things to the team that are very important,” a rightly satisfied Iraola said.