Bournemouth appoint Andoni Iraola as new manager just two hours after brutally axing Gary O'Neil | The Sun
19th June 2023

BOURNEMOUTH have appointed Andoni Iraola as their new manager just two-and-a-half hours after brutally sacking Gary O'Neil.

The Spaniard, who turned down a move to Leeds earlier this year, has signed a two-year deal with the Cherries.

O'Neil was informed of the shock decision to sack him early on Monday morning, with the news coming as a huge surprise to many at the club.

The former Norwich man guided the Cherries to safety after replacing Scott Parker.

But American owner Bill Foley announced out of the blue that he wanted to take the club in a new direction, with a new high-octane style under Iraola.

The former Rayo Vallecano boss, who left the Spanish club at the end of the season, was approached by the Cherries and Leeds during the campaign but did not want to move during a season.

Explaining the shock decision to sack O'Neil, Foley said: "Gary's achievement last season is one I will always be grateful for.

"This has been a difficult decision, but it has been made with great consideration to best position ourselves ahead of the coming season.

"As a club, we have put plans in place for long-term success with improvements being made to infrastructure, most notably the development of a new state-of-the-art training facility and the ongoing discussions around upgrades to our stadium.

"We have also identified a number of significant targets in the transfer market this summer and believe this change in direction will provide us with the best platform from which to build.

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"Gary will go on to have a long career as a head coach or manager, but we feel that, at this moment in time, a change is in the best interests of this football club. I would like to place on record my thanks to Gary and wish him all the best for the future."

American billionaire Foley, who completed his takeover of Bournemouth in December, is planning to invest heavily in the playing squad this summer and wants to give Iraola time to implement his style during pre-season.

Following the announcement of Iraola as their new boss, Foley said: "We're so excited to welcome Andoni to the club. With his contract in Spain coming to an end this summer we wanted to act quickly.

"He was highly sought after by other clubs across the continent, and his style of play has been an important factor in making this decision.

"His achievements in Spain have certainly been very impressive, and we're confident that he is the right man to lead our next chapter.

"We have identified a number of targets in the transfer market, which along with our January additions will supplement our strong playing squad to give Andoni the best chance to consolidate our Premier League status and keep progressing."

Andoni will take charge of the South Coast outfit at the start of July when the players return for pre-season training.

He will take the squad on a warm-weather training camp in Marbella.

The former Athletico Bilbao defender took over at Vallecano in 2020 and guided them to promotion to LaLiga in the same season.

In the first season back in Spain's top league, Iraola led the club to the semi-finals of the Spanish Cup.

Last season, he managed to help the club to an 11th-placed finish, missing out on the top ten only by goal difference.

His previous managerial stints came at Cypriot side AEK Larnaca FC and Spanish second-tier outfit Club Deportivo Mirandés.

During his playing career, he played over 400 times for Bilbao before retiring in 2016 following a stint in the MLS with New York City.

Iraola also featured seven times for Spain's national team before switching allegiance and playing nine times for the Basque Country.

Fans on Twitter simply could not believe former Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and West Ham midfielder O'Neil had been dismissed – more than three weeks after the end of the season.

One said: "Not even a Bournemouth fan but that’s got to be a joke right?"

A second wrote: "What? He did so well considering you have the single worst team in the league."

Another commented: "That might be the worst decision I've seen from a football club in a long time…"

A fourth replied: "A legend in my eyes, overcame so much doubt (including myself regretfully) and kept us up. Thank you Gary!"

And a final user simply added: "Gobsmacked."

O'Neil won ten and drew six in the Premier League – but did lose the final five matches of the season, including the final three without scoring.

Bournemouth begin their 2023-24 campaign at home to West Ham on August 12.

That is followed by a brutal run of fixtures against Liverpool, Tottenham, Brentford, Chelsea, Brighton and Arsenal.

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