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Premier League: Bournemouth show faith in Gary O'Neil

Bournemouth have confirmed Gary O'Neil as their permanent manager after he impressed during a spell as interim boss at the Vitality Stadium.

Scott Parker was shown the door by Bournemouth following a 9-0 loss against Liverpool at Anfield on 27th August as the Cherries sat 17th.

O'Neil was placed in temporary charge of the South Coast side in the aftermath and he immediately improved their fortunes, with the Cherries 11/10 not to be relegated.

Many expected O'Neil to be handed a permanent deal, but surprisingly Bournemouth kicked their heels in making a call as they assessed other options.

With the Premier League set to return on Boxing Day, Bournemouth now have some stability with a plan to move forward after O'Neil put pen to paper on a one-and-a-half-year deal.

"We have been impressed with the way he has conducted himself from the moment he joined the club and feel he has earned this opportunity to continue to take the team and the club forward," chief executive Neill Blake said.

"Gary has worked tirelessly and diligently on the training pitch and the players have responded by producing some excellent performances and results.

"It was evident from the reception he received from our supporters following the Premier League win against Everton that they have also appreciated his efforts and we are all looking forward to continuing our working relationship with him."

Lack of experience not an issue

O'Neil only retired from playing in 2019, ending his career at Bolton Wanderers, and he made his move into coaching in August 2020.

His first role came with Liverpool when he worked as an assistant to Barry Lewtas with the under-23s, but he was soon on his way to the South Coast.

Following Jonathan Woodgate's appointment as Bournemouth manager on 1st February 2021, O'Neil agreed to become a senior first-team coach.

He stayed put after Woodgate was sacked at the end of the season and helped Parker mastermind a successful promotion campaign from the Championship in 2021/22.

O'Neil's chance to manager in the Premier League came after Bournemouth made a poor start to the current Premier League campaign, losing three of their opening four games and failing to score in each of those defeats.

The 9-0 loss at Liverpool proved the final straw for the board and Parker was moved on with O'Neil asked to take the reins.

Despite his lack of experience, O'Neil immediately got a positive reaction from his players as they embarked on a six-game unbeaten run and they climbed as high as eighth.

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O'Neil the top candidate

The former Middlesbrough and West Ham midfielder put himself in prime position to take the role on a permanent basis after that fine sequence of results.

However, the club appeared to pull back from handing over a deal when they lost four in a row and started to slide back down the standings.

Bournemouth beat Everton 3-0 in the league to sign off on a positive note as the season halted for the World Cup and O'Neil has now rightly been rewarded with the chance to keep building.

Several candidates were linked with the vacancy, most of them vastly more experienced than O'Neil, but changing things around in the dugout again may have disrupted the spirit that has been built over the past three months.

Former Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa was understood to have spoken with Bournemouth but his salary demands are thought to have quickly ended that pursuit.

Sean Dyche, who has been out of work since leaving Burnley in June, was tipped as a potential permanent successor to Parker, while Chris Wilder and Wayne Rooney were also said to be in the running.

Tough return on the horizon

After beating Everton 4-1, Bournemouth are set to face Newcastle in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on 21st December - their first game back after the World Cup concludes.

Bournemouth's next Premier League outing comes on the road when they head to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on 27th December.

The Cherries, who are unbeaten in their last three meetings with Chelsea, are 8/1 to pick up a victory over the 1/3 Blues, while the draw is priced at 17/4.

They sign off 2022 with a home clash against Crystal Palace on 31st December and start the New Year back on the road at Manchester United on 3rd January.

O'Neil far exceeded expectations when he first took his place in the hotseat and few expect him to string together too many six-game unbeaten runs over the remainder of the term.

Bournemouth, 4/6 to be relegated, are currently three points clear of the drop zone and O'Neil's primary aim is to try and avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

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