This Saturday the sun was out, Marc Pugh was weaving down the wing, and my AFC Bournemouth side eased to a 4-0 win over Middlesbrough that was as simple as the scoreline indicated. Here are my five main talking points from the match.
Pugh continues to amaze
Marc Pugh is a truly remarkable player. Every time you think he might have finally have reached the end of his Bournemouth career he manages to twist away from your expectations and put in another great display.
This weekend was no exception, as he continually caused havoc amongst Middlesbrough’s beleaguered back line. Linking up with Charlie Daniels – who also put in an excellent showing – he put in a performance of real commitment and quality. He scored an excellent goal from range and also grabbed an assist.
He deserves to stay at the club for as long as he wants. This Saturday was his 250th appearance in a Bournemouth shirt – he couldn’t of marked the occasion in a better way.
Faith in formation pays off
After two straight defeats – to Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea admittedly – some managers might have become concerned that our 4-4-2 formation might not be worth sticking with. Not Eddie Howe though, who struck with what had worked for us before that pair of losses.
He was amply rewarded with an attacking display that Middlesbrough simply couldn’t deal with. Boro boss Steve Agnew tried an unusual formation with three at the back – suffice to say, it didn’t work out. On Saturday faith in what works won over experimentation for the sake of experimentation.
READ MORE: Howe warns Bournemouth not safe yet
Lewis Cook a future superstar
Dan Gosling was excellent on Saturday, but sadly went off with an injured calf before half time. On a positive note that gave Lewis Cook an opportunity to show what he could do. He did not disappoint.
Despite Middlesbrough being down to ten men the twenty-year-old showed a startling composure on the ball, as well as a superb engine – harrying down the opposition when required. His ball to Marc Pugh for our third was sensational because of how quickly he saw and took advantage of the opportunity. I can see him being a very big player for us next season.
So close to safety
Are we safe? Not to sound like Eddie Howe, but not quite yet. If we put in performances like we did this weekend in our remaining four games we can start looking up the table though. It would be so sweet to finish in the top half, and we have the momentum as well as fixture list (on paper) to achieve that.
I think it would be fair to say that Middlesbrough have not been a great team to watch this campaign. Scoring just 23 goals all season they’ve relied on their defence to win games, and that doesn’t make for electrifying viewing. I’m still scarred by the dullness of the televised 0-0 draw they had with West Bromich Albion earlier this campaign.
Their players were so slow this weekend it was almost as if they were all auditioning for action scenes in the upcoming Matrix reboot.
The Middlesbrough fans – who were fantastic all game, despite the performance of their team – certainly don’t deserve such a limp and uninspiring side. Their promotion party must seem a lot longer than a year ago. They do have the players to make a serious fist of going back up again next season – I just hope they try to play a more positive brand of football when they attempt to do so.