SCOTT PARKER became an early season managerial casualty just a couple of days after AFC Bournemouth’s 9-0 (nine) humbling by Liverpool, a team that is arguably among the top three or four in Europe. Jürgen Klopp, seeing the distress on the face of the boyish Parker, extended an arm of consolation, perhaps realising that in the modern game, there’s little room for sentiment when your team is pulled apart so mercilessly. Bournemouth were sacrificial lambs after Liverpool’s stuttering start to the season and after facing Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool, probably three of the toughest games they will have in 2022-23, Parker was shown the door.
Parker was damagingly honest after the Anfield game, claiming he needed new players. “I feel sorry for the fans, I feel sorry for the players because we are just a bit underequipped at this level from where we’ve come from and what we have. It has been difficult,” he said.
The statement from Bournemouth’s Maxim Demin hinted that he might have upset one or two people at the club. “It is unconditional that we are aligned in our strategy to run the club sustainability. We must also show belief in and respect for one another.”
With 16 goals conceded in four games, Parker’s post-match response was a frank assessment, but contributed to his dismissal. Having took them back to the Premier, Parker wasn’t given the chance to consolidate in the Premier League. It is possible no other coach will be successful in that ambition this season. Club owners need an objective and a strategy, but the chasm between the Premier League and Championship is getting wider and the financial gulf really means that survival is the best most promoted teams can hope for. How different the narrative might have been if Bournemouth had come up against Wolves, Southampton and Leicester in their first three games.
There’s no denying that 9-0 is an earthquake of a result, but the manner of the defeat was shocking for Bournemouth fans, pointing the way for the next few months. But the club’s management have acted like the taxman, assuming the returns of an exceptional performance (i.e. promotion) will be the benchmark for the following year. This is not only a little presumptuous but also seems naïve given the club has been here before. Will Bournemouth get a better manager in their current position? Sean Dyche is already being mentioned in despatches and there will be a cluster of other names that will be no more progressive than persevering with Parker.
The first Football League team to be beaten 9-0 was Wolves in January 1891. John Stuart McMillan netted five times for Derby County in that game, a Glasgow-born Scot who later managed Gillingham. Wolves’ manager that day was Jack Addenbrooke and he didn’t get sacked afterwards!
Promoted clubs sometimes find they don’t have the patience to continue with their existing manager if the tea leaves look at little menacing early in the season, but Parker is the earliest promoted boss to depart in the past decade. He’s in good company, Daniel Farke, Slaven Bilic, Harry Redknapp, Nigel Adkins and Ian Holloway have all had the tap on the shoulder or come to the same conclusion as their employer after winning promotion. Surely a manager deserves the chance to take thing on and is four games into the 2022-23 season really enough time to conduct a good evaluation?
If Southampton had that same mindset, then Ralph Hasenhüttl would have been sacked after one of his 9-0 defeats. He’s experienced the humiliation at home (to Leicester) and away (Manchester United) but remains in charge at St. Mary’s. Likewise, when Liverpool thrashed Steve Coppell’s Crystal Palace 9-0 in December 1989, he was given time and Palace reached their first FA Cup final and a year later, finished third in the old first division.
Bournemouth won’t be the last club this season to sack their coach after a bad result, but you have to ask if they have prepared themselves well for their return to the Premier League. On the face of it, their squad looks no more than Championship level, so unless the team is reinforced, a relegation struggle is ahead of them. Whether Parker’s successor can change that outcome remains to be seen, but their decision may be one they come to regret.