Bournemouth should be sensible: Sack Parker now instead of midway through next season

Nathan Spafford
Scott Parker and Sean Dyche

Scott Parker cleared a low bar of promoting Bournemouth but he is not ready for the Premier League yet. Get Sean Dyche in now instead of later.


Bournemouth’s victorious promotion tussle against Nottingham Forest in midweek provided a springboard back to the Premier League for the Cherries, but manager Scott Parker shouldn’t be getting that second bite at the top flight just yet.

This is the former West Ham and Tottenham midfielder’s second promotion from the Championship in as many seasons with different clubs, yet Parker is not penning as bright a future for himself in management as such a stellar record on paper might suggest.

Bournemouth limped over the line from a position of power this season while promotion via the play-offs with Fulham two summers ago was the bare minimum expected for a squad littered with top-flight talent.

Parker’s two managerial jobs at this level have felt like a story of clubs succeeding despite him, rather than because of the former England international. Bournemouth acquired a raft of Championship superstars in both the summer and winter transfer windows. While Parker’s former club Fulham exceeded the lofty expectations placed upon them this season by gaining automatic promotion, his current employers have Chris Hughton to thank for a spot back in the top flight.

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Having pipped Forest to the second automatic promotion spot courtesy of Kieffer Moore’s late winner on Tuesday evening, everyone of a Bournemouth persuasion realises that the one point taken from Hughton’s seven games in charge at The City Ground has allowed Bournemouth to get their place back in the Premier League.

The how and whys are inconsequential now; Bournemouth’s seat at the top table is assured for another season at least. Nobody can take that away from them. The but stems out of questions from what comes next.

Parker has shown little to no evidence that he has improved as a Championship manager since his ultimately successful but expected promotion with Fulham two seasons ago. Like Parker’s management style and results, that season left a lot to be desired. This campaign has been of a similar ilk. Rarely has a team achieved automatic promotion with so little joy and excitement surrounding it, both from the fans within and the neutrals on the outside.

There have, of course, been bright sparks: the transformation of Dominic Solanke into a potential 30-goal striker is a joy to behold; while the emergence of young talent down the left side – Jaiden Anthony and Jordan Zemura – has been a rare example of not using ready-made stars to plug gaps in this team.

When Bournemouth were experiencing the mid-season lull which Parker’s coaching alone could not pull them out of, the club brought in no fewer than five stars the majority of the league could only dream of, not least Moore and Liverpool centre-back Nat Philips.

To have not achieved promotion this season would have been a disaster for both the Cherries – moving into their last year of parachute payments – and Parker, whose managerial reputation should have been in tatters. To have limped over the other side of that line is not great cause for celebration.

Managerial sackings and dismissals are all too often viewed only as a means of punishment. If a manager hits a bad run of form, or falls out with a star player, or fails keep a club up or get them promoted, they are handed their P45. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

But what if that manager is the best chance you have of turning results around, uniting the team without a bad apple or of getting promoted next season? Even if the manager has led your club to record-breaking lows in a campaign, if there was definitive proof that they could provide success the season after, it would be a no-brainer to keep them.

Conversely, just because a manager has taken a club up, it doesn’t mean they should automatically be be kept in the job because that is the done thing. Immediately, Sean Dyche offers Bournemouth a far likelier opportunity to preserve themselves in the top flight than Parker with his two relegations from two Premier League seasons.

The first came with the caveat of being the third man in and caretaker to the end of the campaign, but last time out offered no such fallbacks. Rather, Parker oversaw a Fulham side with incredible spend and great resources, which fell immediately back to square one.

He joined Bournemouth relatively late last summer in a move that has, to this point, worked for everyone. Fulham got a marked improvement in the form of Marco Silva while both clubs have worked their way back to the top flight. But while the Cottagers seemingly have the scope to now build on this season and thrive, Bournemouth and Parker’s limitations could hold them back.

Clubs could and should be more ruthless when there is a better option on the table. Dyche is not the only manager who would offer Bournemouth a better chance of establishing themselves back in the Premier League; more than a handful promise greater security and hope than Parker does presently.

If Bournemouth were sensible, they could buck the trend of firing a manager as punishment, and instead change the occupant of the hot seat at a time that suits them with a better option to reach the next stage of development.