Bournemouth's former Tottenham trainee has taken the long way round to reach the Premier League, and tells Sam Rowe that this season's underdogs will simply continue with their winning formula...
The owner sent the squad to Las Vegas in the close season, how was that?
It was really nice. It’s not often you can go away as a team and it’s a celebration – not many teams win trophies – so it was nice to get away together and relax, because when we’re here it’s very full on and we have to be professional. It was nice to have a few days off, relax and look back on what we’ve achieved.
- Tottenham 2006-09 (0 apps)
- Chesterfield, loan 2007 (2 apps, 0 goals)
- Leyton Orient, loan 2007-08 (37 apps, 2 goals)
- Gillingham, loan 2008 (5 apps, 1 goal)
- Leyton Orient 2009-12 (138 apps, 2 goals)
- Bournemouth 2012- (129 apps, 8 goals)
How are the new boys settling in?
They’re good, sharp and bringing a different element to the squad. [Tyrone] Mingsy’s young, an absolute athlete. He’s going to give us a lot of height in the back four and can get forward as well. Sylvain [Distin] – great experience, will bring us a lot of stability from the back. Christian [Atsu] – he’s a maverick, he can produce things out of nothing, and then Josh King’s quick and he’s there to score goals. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.
Can Bournemouth’s close-knit dynamic be maintained in the Premier League?
There’s a lot of us here still from League One. I think we’ve kept the core of our dressing room to make sure no one gets out of line, and if they do then they get brought back down very quickly. We try to set a good example to the new lads, that this is how our club works. It might be different elsewhere but this is what you need to do if you want to move forward with us.
These days Eddie Howe is compared with Jose Mourinho and linked with the England job. Is he really that good?
Yeah, I agree with everything they say. Obviously I’ve not worked with Mourinho, but for a manager Eddie’s the best I’ve worked with. His thought process and the way he goes about his business – he puts all his effort into every little detail, and every little thing matters.
What are your personal goals for this season?
Obviously I’d like to play as much as I can, but there’s so much competition for places now. It’s going to be tough and you’ll need to train at your best in order to be playing at the weekend. The goal is to play, and it’d be nice to score, but I haven’t scored many in my career so I’m not holiding out any hope!
If Championship promotion = Las Vegas, where will the owner send you if Bournemouth stay up?
I’ve got no idea – maybe you’ll see him on the pitch! He’s a very quiet man, keeps himself to himself, but he’s a lovely man. I’ve seen him a few times that he’s brought friends over from Russia and had a great time – he loves to show off the club because he’s proud of what he’s bought and how it’s grown with him. A lot of bad things get said about owners from other clubs, but ours has come from abroad, put a lot of money in and he’s passionate about it as well. Long may it continue.
Read our behind-the-scenes feature from the first days of Bournemouth's pre-season in the September 2015 issue of FourFourTwo, available on iPad and also iPhone from Saturday August 1. It's season preview time! FFT is on hand to give you the skinny on 128 teams across England and Scotland. Plus there's a One-on-One with Gary Neville; interviews with Vincent Kompany, Aaron Ramsey, Daley Blind and Harry Kane; Planet Football's Euro-league previews; the usual Upfront silliness and stacks of expert advice in Performance. Subscribe!