Our series on the newly-promoted Premier League sides continues with this look at Bournemouth’s manager, Scott Parker.
We will assess his management style, preferred tactics, predilection for rotation and openness with the press ahead of the Cherries’ Fantasy Premier League (FPL) return, as well as looking at areas of his squad he might strengthen in.
An article on the Cherries’ attack will follow, while you can read up on a guide to their defenders here.
Everything you need to know about Fulham can be found via the links below:
READ MORE: What to expect from Fulham manager Marco Silva in FPL
READ MORE: Fulham’s defence assessed ahead of FPL return in 2022/23
READ MORE: What can we expect from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Fulham’s midfielders in FPL?
WHAT TACTICS DO BOURNEMOUTH PLAY UNDER PARKER?
A 4-3-3 was by some distance Bournemouth’s most-used set-up in 2021/22, with that system sometimes resembling a 4-2-3-1 due to central midfielder Philip Billing‘s advanced role in support of lone striker Dominic Solanke.
“Generally we’ve gone with a 4-3-3 in attack.
“The midfield three is led by Philip Billing, who plays off the striker. The wingers get high up the pitch, with Ryan Christie being the provider on the right and Jaidon Anthony sometimes tucking in with more of a goal threat.
“The other two midfielders – Jefferson Lerma and Lewis Cook – are fairly defensive and will offer little to nothing in attacking FPL returns. The full-backs/wing-backs try to get forward but not to the extent of your Alexander-Arnolds or Cancelos.” – FPLScofield
As is true of a lot of managers, Parker will change approach during matches depending on the score.
Stopper Chris Mepham and defensive midfielder Ben Pearson would occasionally be thrown on if narrow leads were being defended, while a second striker – latterly Kieffer Moore – would be introduced if games were being chased.
Perhaps we might see more of the defensive 3-5-2/3-4-3 in the Premier League, as it was a system Parker turned to when managing Fulham in the top flight.
“Generally we didn’t have to change formation all year. We played three at the back in some games this year but that was rare. I suppose that could be the case more often in tougher Premier League games, though.
“Occasionally we’d switch in game when we were chasing. This would often mean someone like Kiefer Moore coming on up front with Solanke, so we’d play two up front.” – FPLScofield
WHAT STYLE OF FOOTBALL DOES PARKER FAVOUR?
“Boring, boring Parker?”
The ‘mundane’ reputation has followed the Bournemouth head coach around ever since he first took charge of Fulham in 2019, with some cynics suggesting that his crab-like qualities as a player are now apparent in the teams he manages.
Cherries games would follow a similar pattern for much of the season: a frenetic, high-pressing, ball-hogging start would soon give way to a gradual retreat, with Parker apparently content to rest on narrow advantages or his young side seemingly losing confidence if they hadn’t pinched an early goal.
Ahmed Shooble wrote in the Athletic in May:
“As impressive as Bournemouth’s unbeaten start looks on paper, the majority of their wins were fought within fine margins, with the team occasionally riding their luck. Six games were won by a margin of one goal and only two were won by more than two goals. Four of those 15 games were draws while six of those matches also saw Bournemouth record an inferior expected goals (xG) total to their opponents. The only positive constant to come from this was Mark Travers’ sustained goalkeeping heroics to keep Bournemouth afloat in games they looked certain to spurn — helping the club to reach 19 clean sheets and concede just 39 goals.
“They were getting points on the board but some of the performances were much nervier than the five-point buffer they had opened up between themselves and the rest of the league suggested. Centre-back Chris Mepham and defensive midfielder Ben Pearson were often both called upon as defensive finishers to consolidate Bournemouth’s narrow leads, which saw the team drop into a deep-sitting five-man defence.
“Unsurprisingly, this caused opposition pressure to grow and resulted in some nail-biting finishes, leading some supporters to question why Parker refused to build on leads and when Bournemouth’s good fortunes would run dry.
“Parker continued to toil in the fine margins, causing Bournemouth to drop to third in the table by the end of January and 10 points adrift of Fulham, who had already almost doubled their goal tally.
“It almost seemed like Bournemouth were trying too hard to score at times and were so deeply wedded to Parker’s drilled movements in the final third that they began to lose touch with their own attacking instincts. Throughout the season, Parker repeatedly referenced the importance of high-quality shooting opportunities — essentially taking shots in the box with a higher chance of resulting in a goal.”
There was a bit more tactical ingenuity and attacking ambition from Parker in the closing stages of 2021/22 (Solanke as a number 10 in the win over Coventry, for example) but in general, our Bournemouth correspondents are in agreement about the conservative nature of their manager.
“He loves passing football. Wouldn’t say it’s alikened to walking the ball into the net but he certainly likes pretty football. However, we may have to get more ugly this year in order to stay up.” – FPLScofield
“We’re possession based, primarily, but hard working out of possession. We’ll be hard to beat if not the most entertaining. Expect low-scoring matches.” – PaulRUK3 on Bournemouth’s playing style
During Parker’s last stint as a Premier League manager, there was a familiar tale.
If we take the liberty of ignoring a madcap first three Gameweeks in which Fulham struggled to get to grips with top-flight football and conceded on 10 occasions, the Cottagers actually didn’t do all too badly from a defensive perspective while struggling at the other end: from Gameweeks 4-38, they ranked eighth for fewest goals conceded (43) and 19th for most goals scored (24).
So, then, expect fewer goals at either end of the pitch than what we witnessed from the more gung-ho Eddie Howe incarnation of the Cherries.
We’ll delve into more of the underlying statistics from the 2021/22 Championship in our bespoke pieces on the Bournemouth defence and attack.
DOES PARKER LIKE A SETTLED SIDE OR WILL HE ROTATE?
Rotation: the scourge of the Fantasy manager.
The likes of Pep Guardiola and Graham Potter make life a nightmare for FPL bosses and team news writers alike and many of us long for a top flight full of Sean Dyches.
Parker was, happily, not really a Tuchel-esque tinkerer in 2021/22.
“He prefers a settled side. Tweaks more than rotates.” – PaulRUK3
“The Championship schedule can be pretty brutal at times so we were forced into some rotation last year, but that was mainly in midfield (not Philip Billing). Dominic Solanke started every league game. Jaidon Anthony started 38 of the 46 fixtures and cameoed in seven more, so only missed one match. Philip Billing started 37 of the 40 games he was available for (one of his benchings was after promotion was sealed) and the centre-backs were pretty much nailed when fit. Ryan Christie played a lot as well but sometimes missed out during a busy schedule: he was one of our few internationals, so was more tired after an international break”. – FPLScofield
HOW DOES PARKER HANDLE THE PRESS – AND WILL HE GIVE US HONEST TEAM NEWS?
“Scott Parker has never been a coach to serve up soundbites, nor the type to provide the leading line in newspapers.
“Instead, his responses have tended to follow the mandatory managerial speak. Erudite enough to offer enough but also, perhaps contradictory, detailing very little.” – Jacob Tanswell, Bournemouth journalist
An earnest character on paper, Parker has nevertheless tended to reserve his emotional best for dressing room team talks or post-promotion outpourings.
There was a slight change in his attitude towards the season’s end, however, as Parker gravitated towards an open approach we FPL managers want from all our Premier League bosses.
“As the season reached its defining crescendo, Parker became more upfront and bullish.
“His guard had been lowered and fleeting snapshots emerged as to why he continues to be described as “very impressive” behind the scenes when addressing his players. All of a sudden, there was an honesty and intensity that made those in the room or fans reading his quotes sit up and take notice.” – Jacob Tanswell
From this author’s own experience of Parker when it comes to team news, he’s generally been an honest sort who doesn’t hide too much information away.
WHERE MIGHT PARKER STRENGTHEN IN THE SUMMER AND WHICH PLAYERS ARE IN DANGER OF LOSING THEIR PLACE?
As mentioned in our article on Bournemouth’s defenders, the anticipated exits of a few second-string defenders and the return of a trio of loanees to their parent clubs means that reinforcements at the back are surely the priority for Parker this summer.
Goalkeeper Mark Travers doesn’t have much in the way of backup, either.
In truth, there probably won’t be too many positions that will remain unbolstered over the summer but Parker has recently said that the regulars who helped the Cherries to promotion “deserved their chance” in the top flight.
“Mainly defence. I expect another centre-back to arrive, possibly Nat Phillips following his loan spell from Liverpool this season. We could also do with a number 10-come-9 player and others who can play in flexible positions.
“Mepham and Stacey will leave I think. I would expect Zemura, Anthony and Christie to be very much challenged for game-time from new signings. Possibly Travers, too, if a new goalie comes in, but I hope not.” – PaulRUK3
“Definitely need a centre-back as Phillips has gone back to Liverpool. Might need a right-back, too, as Stacey is fairly injury prone and so we had to play Mepham there occasionally.” – FPLScofield
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