Welcome to Last Word on Football’s team of the decade series. In today’s instalment, we will look at the players and manager who have made it into Bournemouth’s best team of the 2010s. This decade has been, by far, the most successful in the Cherries’ history. It has seen promotion from the bottom of the English Football League all the way to the top, and incredible growth from the club. Many of the players have reached heights even they never thought possible, and some have even made it into my Bournemouth team of the decade.
Bournemouth Team of the Decade
Manager: Eddie Howe
The easiest decision in the team, Eddie Howe is Bournemouth’s manager of the decade. While he left to manage Burnley in 2011, he returned a year and a half later, and since then, he has led Bournemouth all the way up to the Premier League, and their success in it. They are currently struggling, but with the return of star player David Brooks imminent, and the Premier League not to resume until at least April 4, if at all, Bournemouth definitely stand a chance at surviving to fight for another season in the top flight.
Throughout the decade, Bournemouth have stuck by a 4-4-2 formation. They gained promotion to their first-ever Premier League appearance with it, and have, for the most part, stayed with it.
Goalkeeper: Artur Boruc
While this was more difficult than the manager of the decade, Artur Boruc has been Bournemouth’s best goalkeeper of the 2010s. He joined the Cherries at the beginning of the 2014/15 season on loan from Southampton and kept 16 clean sheets as Eddie Howe’s side earned promotion to the Premier League. Boruc signed for the Cherries in May 2015 and helped them gain stability in their opening few top-flight seasons. While he is now past his prime, he is still a quality goalkeeper and one who can do the job when called upon. Boruc’s part in Bournemouth’s promotion from the Championship and performances in their opening seasons in England’s top division is what has made him their best goalkeeper over the past decade.
Right-Back: Simon Francis
While Adam Smith has played very well for Bournemouth during his time there, Simon Francis has come out just on top in this list. Francis has been the preferred right-back for much of the decade’s second half and was an instrumental part of their team in a similar period to that of Boruc. His ability to provide assists consistently was a great help to Bournemouth while they were settling as Premier League regulars, making him their best right-back of the decade.
Centre-Back: Steve Cook & Nathan Ake
While Tommy Elphick was an incredible leader and helped Bournemouth gain promotion from the Championship, he has just missed out on his list. The partnership of Steve Cook and Nathan Ake is too good to ignore. Since Ake, one of Bournemouth’s best players, joined from Chelsea in 2016 on a loan which became permanent in 2017, he has formed a great partnership with Steve Cook. Cook has been with Bournemouth for some time, having helped them to Premier League promotion, while Ake joined and immediately exuded quality into the Cherries’ defence.
Left-Back: Charlie Daniels
The first player on this list to have been with Bournemouth through three divisions, Charlie Daniels had a fairly uncontested spot in this team of the decade. He has done a lot for Bournemouth during his time there, and, along with Francis, can provide consistent direct goal involvements.
Right-Midfield: Matt Ritchie
Despite having played for Newcastle since 2016, Matt Ritchie was another player who helped Bournemouth in their Championship and earlier Premier League days. Most notably, Ritchie was one of the Cherries’ best players when they got promoted to the English top flight. He scored 15 and assisted 17 that campaign, giving him 32 direct goal involvements. The Scot was their second-highest goal scorer in the Championship, and was the league’s top assist maker, making him a key part of Bournemouth’s promotion season.
Centre-Midfield: Harry Arter & Andrew Surman
Arter arrived at the Vitality in 2010, having played for non-league side Woking one season prior. He is still contracted to the club, having gone out on loan for a second season in 2019/20, and he has been the club’s most loyal servant over the past ten years. The London born midfielder went all the way from non-league with Woking to being a Premier League regular with Bournemouth, a truly incredible achievement. Surman has also been a great player, and while he has not played with the south coast side for as long as Arter, he has still been one of their best players over the past decade. The Englishman plays for the Cherries to this day and appears occasionally, but his prime certainly occurred in the last decade.
Left-Midfield: Marc Pugh
Marc Pugh is somewhat of a Bournemouth legend. While Ryan Fraser could also have been my left midfielder, Pugh had a great partnership with left-back Daniels and played for the Cherries for almost the whole decade, all the way from their first League One season to 2018/19 in the Premier League. He was an important part of all their promotion campaigns and will go down in the club’s history as a great player.
Striker: Joshua King & Callum Wilson
Callum Wilson is arguably Bournemouth’s player of the decade. He is their highest goal scorer, with 58, and helped them incredibly in their promotion from the Championship. His decade has also been hampered by injury, but, despite this, he has been a key part of the Bournemouth team in the 2010s’ second half. Joshua King, who joined the Cherries a season after Wilson, is their highest goal scorer in the Premier League. Although he was less of an easy pick than Wilson, one cannot look past him when choosing this starting XI, and he rounds off Bournemouth’s starting team of the decade.
As for substitutes, there were many players to chose from, but in the end, these are the players who made it.
Tommy Elphick: nearly made it into the starting team.
Adam Smith: another who missed out by a small margin.
Jefferson Lerma: a quality player who will feature more prominently in the next decade.
Brett Pitman: incredibly important in the opening part of the decade.