EPL

Iraola sees Manager of the Season nomination as vindication of Bournemouth's work

By Sports Desk May 10, 2024

Andoni Iraola sees his nomination for the Premier League's Manager of the Season award as something for everyone at Bournemouth to be proud of, vindicating their progress in 2023-24.

Bournemouth welcome Brentford to the Vitality Stadium for their penultimate game of the campaign on Saturday, with a top-half finish still on the cards.

The Cherries have already surpassed their previous record points haul in the top flight, accumulating 48 despite failing to win any of their first nine matches under Iraola – a run which led to suggestions he could lose his job.

However, they have been rewarded for sticking with the Spaniard, who is up against Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Jurgen Klopp and Unai Emery in the Manager of the Season voting.

"I think it's something for the club. People think that we have done a very good season and it's good to see yourself get this kind of recognition," Iraola said on Friday.

"I think we still have a lot of room to grow and we have to continue improving because, in the end, the Premier League is very demanding.

"I think the other nominees are on another level, I would say. They are the top four teams in the league.

"It's good that a club like us receives this kind of recognition but in the same way it could have gone to Sean Dyche or Gary O'Neil, they are also doing very good jobs."

Brentford boss Thomas Frank has heaped praise on his opposite number, saying: "He's done well this season. Praise to him and everyone around Bournemouth. 

"He had a tricky start and it's just another example that there are a lot of good coaches out there and that football is brutal and unpredictable.

"But the best leaders are there with a calm head and a steady hand – they keep going. They've done well in many ways, definitely."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Bournemouth – Dominic Solanke

Solanke has opened the scoring in nine different Premier League games so far this season, more than any other player. 

His goals have also been worth a league-high 15 points for the Cherries this term – can he fire them one step closer to a top-half finish?

Brentford – Ivan Toney 

Toney has failed to score in any of his last 10 Premier League games for Brentford. 

Only in his first 11 Football League appearances for Northampton Town in 2013-14 has he failed to find the net in more consecutive league games for a single team. With time running out to impress England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of Euro 2024, he needs to end his drought.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Brentford's last two Premier League games have seen them lose 1-0 to Everton and draw 0-0 with Fulham. They have not failed to score in three or more consecutive league games since a run of four in March and April 2019.

The Bees have, however, kept a clean sheet in their last two away league games against Bournemouth, last doing so on three consecutive visits between 1991 and 1994 in the third tier.

The Cherries are winless in their last six league games against Brentford since a 1-0 Championship victory back in August 2014, drawing two and losing four.

With little of substance on the line, it would be no surprise to see this one fizzle out into a draw. 

Bournemouth have only won their final home league game in one of the last four seasons, beating Millwall in the Championship in 2021-22 but losing their other three in that span.

Brentford, meanwhile, have seen four of their last seven Premier League matches finish level, their only defeat in that run coming at Goodison Park two weeks ago.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY 

Bournemouth – 32.6%

Brentford – 39.1%

Draw – 28.3%

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