Bournemouth: Bournemouth players praised manager Andoni Iraola for their turnaround in fortunes in the Premier League after Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Fulham propelled them into the top half of the table.
Iraola’s Bournemouth were winless in their first nine games, earning only three points to fall into the relegation zone.
However, the club stuck by the Spanish coach who was appointed in June and he has led the south-coast side up to 10th. In their last nine matches, they have picked up 22 points with seven wins and suffered just one loss against champions Manchester City.
“The beginning of the season, the coach had an idea and we lost a lot of games but we just did the same thing,” Bournemouth goalscorer Justin Kluivert told Amazon Prime.
“We believed in him, he believed in us and the results came.” Alex Scott, whose scintillating run from the halfway line set up Kluivert’s finish, said Iraola’s coaching style has had a positive impact on the squad.
“A lot of what we do in training is huge. The confidence, he gives that to very player,” he said.
“The way he speaks to us, the way he has us training after games. The confidence throughout the team comes from the top. He is a top manager.” Iraola, who watched Bournemouth’s sixth victory in seven games from the stands after he was suspended for the match, credited the players’ teamwork for their unbeaten run.
“There are a lot of small things that are clicking. We know each other much better,” Iraola said.
“Everyone is pushing, there is strong competition for minutes. It’s becoming tough for me to make the starting elevens, but it’s good for the team.” When asked what it was like watching his team from the stands, he added: “It was not bad because we didn’t suffer as much in the second half.
“I will try to have better behaviour and not have more yellow cards because I prefer the other experience!”
Jack Robinson and Anis Ben Slimane scored own goals in the final 13 minutes as Sheffield United let a late lead slip and lost 3-2 to fellow strugglers Luton Town at Bramall Lane on Tuesday.
Luton took the lead in the first half through Alfie Doughty, but a strong second-half showing from the home side turned the game on its head as Oli McBurnie netted and Anel Ahmedhodzic scored his first Premier League goal.
Having worked so hard to get in front, however, United surrendered their lead in cruel fashion as Robinson flicked a cross into his own net and Slimane deflected a shot past his goalkeeper.
Luton stayed in 18th position but moved to 15 points from 18 games, one point from safety, while United remained rooted to the bottom of the standings with nine points from 19 matches.
“It was a rollercoaster of emotions. We were 2-1 down and then you think about what that means to the table. It’s a crazy day,” Luton winger Andros Townsend told Amazon Prime.
“It’s sensational (to win back-to-back games). Whether you’re a top side or not, it’s so hard to do in the Premier League.
“We were ahead against Liverpool and Arsenal and we didn’t get three points in those games. It’s about time we got some luck.” The match was officiated by Sam Allison, who became the first black referee in the Premier League for 15 years and only the second ever after Uriah Rennie.
Luton started and finished the game on top, but had to withstand some heavy United pressure in between and home manager Chris Wilder will be livid with the manner of the defeat Doughty gave Luton the lead when his low shot from a tight angle went through the legs of home goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.
United deservedly drew level just past the hour-mark as McBurnie scored his third goal of the season, and they led when Luton failed to clear a cross and after a scramble in the box, Ahmedhodzic scored.
But two moments of misfortune followed as Robinson’s attempted headed clearance only succeeded in steering the ball into his own net, before a pass in the box deflected off Slimane and looped into the goal for the winner.
“We chucked it away,” Wilder said. “We got our noses in front. We don’t go out and stop a cross. We are sat on the six yard line and things like that are going to happen if you sit that deep.
“It is the defending attitude and shape that has cost us. It will look a bit unlucky but it isn’t unlucky, it is us and we chucked it.” Luton striker Carlton Morris said he had reported an incident to the match officials.
“I heard something from the front row (in the crowd) and thought it was best to get it reported straight away,” he said, without elaborating.