EPL

Andoni Iraola takes over at Bournemouth after Gary O’Neil’s surprise sacking

By Sports Desk June 19, 2023

Bournemouth have appointed Andoni Iraola as their new head coach after sacking Gary O’Neil.

Spaniard Iraola, who was previously wanted by Leeds, was available having recently ended a three-season spell in charge of LaLiga side Rayo Vallecano.

The 40-year-old former Spain and Athletic Bilbao defender has agreed a two-year contract at the Vitality Stadium.

His imminent arrival in the Premier League was confirmed by Bournemouth just hours after a statement announcing O’Neil’s surprise dismissal.

Cherries chairman Bill 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.”

Iraola, who turns 41 on Thursday, began his managerial career with Cypriot club AEK Larnaca in 2018 before spending the 2019-20 season with Spanish second division side Mirandes.

He then guided Vallecano to promotion to LaLiga in 2021, prior to securing two mid-table finishes, in addition to a run to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey in 2022, which prompted interest from Leeds earlier this year.

Iraola and his backroom staff will begin work with Bournemouth’s squad next month, with his first competitive match in charge coming at home to West Ham on Saturday, August 12.

“His achievements in Spain have certainly been very impressive, and we’re confident that he is the right man to lead our next chapter,” continued Foley.

“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.”

O’Neil was dismissed by the Cherries earlier on Monday afternoon, with Foley saying a change would provide the club with the “best platform from which to build”.

The 40-year-old Englishman guided the Cherries to top-flight safety last season by taking 36 points from 34 games after replacing the sacked Scott Parker in late August following a 9-0 thrashing at Liverpool.

He was initially appointed to his maiden managerial role on an interim basis before the move was made permanent in November.

American businessman Foley, who completed his takeover of the Dorset club in December, has ambitious plans, which include a new state-of-the-art training facility and ongoing discussions around upgrades to the Vitality Stadium.

Speaking of O’Neil’s departure, the 78-year-old 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.

“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.”

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