Gary O’Neil revealed he expected to still be job hunting at this point in the season after being sacked by Bournemouth in the summer, and is determined to repay Wolves for the faith they showed in him.

The 40-year-old’s first trip back to former employers Bournemouth ended in a 2-1 comeback victory on Saturday for his new side, now on a four-game unbeaten run in the top flight while the Cherries still remain in search of their first win of the season.

O’Neil, who took over at Molineux on a three-year-deal in August, oversaw a return of 36 points from his 34 top-flight games in charge to help Bournemouth avoid relegation in 2022/23 and was even a candidate on some pundits’ lists for manager of the season before he was sacked in June.

He said: “I didn’t really think about the level that I would be going in at (after sacking), I just knew I was ready to go back in and I expected it to be winter. I expected managers to start the season, some of them struggle, some of them do well, and then there would be an opportunity around now or the next few weeks.

“So the timing of it was a surprise. I know I’m capable of managing a big club, so I’m extremely grateful to Wolves because to give a young manager with only 10 months experience the reins is big belief and I’m hoping to repay them like I did when I was [at Bournemouth].

“I’m just working as hard as ever. Leave the office at half 10 at night, get in at seven o’clock in the morning, just in a different part of the country.”

O’Neil was appointed interim Bournemouth boss in August 2022 following the departure of Scott Parker, and made his Premier League managerial debut against Wolves, that goalless draw marking the beginning of a six-game unbeaten run that eventually helped earn him the permanent position.

By the end of the campaign the Cherries had survived a tense relegation battle, with O’Neil’s subsequent exit leaving many wondering if Bournemouth’s new owners would eventually rue their decision to let him go.

He said: “The world of football maybe sees my departure from [Bournemouth] differently to what I did, I would guess, which I understand. I’m guessing consensus was probably, ‘Oh, that’s a harsh one’, where was I was like, ‘that’s life. I’ve had an opportunity, I’ve done the best I can with it.’

“What I set myself was to leave [Bournemouth] in a better place than I found it. I left with my head held high and I started my managerial career, and that’s all it is. There’s never any more than that.”

Andoni Iraola, the man now in charge of the Cherries, is under more pressure than ever to deliver results after Saturday’s home contest derailed in the second half.

Dominic Solanke fired the hosts to a 1-0 lead that stood at half-time, but Matheus Cunha levelled within minutes of the restart before Lewis Cook’s needless red card sent what had been a resilient side down to 10 men, and a late defensive gaffe allowed Sasa Kalajdzic to score the winner.

Iraola, whose team sit second-bottom with three points from nine contests, said: “Especially when you are in the relegation spots like we are now, we have to be worried. I’m the first one to be worried.

“Now it’s a matter of finding ways to win. I think we prepared very well, we had the plan more or less quite clear, but it’s not enough with the things we are doing.”

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil defused any tension after Unai Emery left without a handshake.

The Aston Villa manager walked down the tunnel after Sunday’s 1-1 draw while O’Neil spoke to the fourth official at full time.

Pau Torres had quickly cancelled out Hwang Hee-Chan’s second-half opener as Villa missed the chance to move into the Premier League’s top four.

Ollie Watkins hit the post with the last touch of the game after Mario Lemina was dismissed in stoppage time for a second caution.

They remain fifth after a scrappy derby at Molineux while Wolves built on their 2-1 victory at Manchester City last week and O’Neil dismissed any issue with Emery.

He said: “It was a lot of nothing, I was moaning at the fourth about playing 114 minutes and Unai didn’t want to wait for the handshake so he went to walk down the tunnel. I just said: ‘No problem, go down the tunnel’.

“I’ve waited ages for people (managers in the past), I understand that they want to talk with the fourth official.

“My conversation with the fourth official was about eight seconds long so he wouldn’t have had to wait very long. But I understand if he doesn’t want to, no problem. I’ve got no problem with Unai at all.

“I thought we edged it 11 v 11, apart from the start but a point is fairish I’d suggest. We looked comfortable, there wasn’t a huge gap between the sides.

“Eight points is not a bad return, we’re managing to score goals and trying to improve.”

Rayan Ait-Nouri steered Wolves’ best first-half chance wide and Jose Sa needed to be alert to divert Watkins’ effort over soon after the break.

But Wolves struck first after 53 minutes when Neto’s pace took him past Torres to cross for Hwang to net his sixth goal of the season.

The lead lasted just two minutes as Torres netted his first Villa goal when he turned in Watkins’ cross at the far post after Wolves were unable to clear Douglas Luiz’s free kick.

With 12 minutes left Neto should have settled the game when Sasa Kalajdzic’s excellent cross found Wolves’ star man only for him to blaze over from 10 yards.

Wolves then had to navigate eight of the 12 minutes of stoppage time with 10 men after Lemina was dismissed, earning a second yellow card for a tug on Nicolo Zaniolo.

And Villa nearly cashed in with the last touch of the game when Watkins thumped the base of the post.

Victory would have lifted Villa into the Champions League spots, after Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Brighton.

“It’s a derby and we felt it on the pitch. There are a lot of supporters with us, they are pushing, it was a great atmosphere,” said Emery, who also called leaving without a handshake ‘nothing’.

“We tried to focus on the match. We reacted to the goal very quickly, it was key, and in 11 v 11 we created more chances but they had some very good transitions and chances.

“When they had a red card it was the moment where we tried to get the advantage.

“We are ambitious and very demanding. The first half we started very well but we lost a bit of control. We weren’t controlling the game and at that moment I was frustrated and upset.”

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.”

Bournemouth have sacked Gary O’Neil less than seven months after he was appointed as the club’s permanent head coach.

O’Neil guided the Cherries to Premier League safety last season following the dismissal of Scott Parker at the end of August.

According to a club statement, the appointment of a new head coach will be announced imminently.

Bournemouth owner Bill 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.”

O’Neil initially took over from Parker on an interim basis following a 9-0 thrashing at Liverpool before being appointed permanently in November.

The 40-year-old took 36 points from his 34 top-flight games in charge to help the Cherries avoid relegation following promotion from the Championship.

“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,” continued the statement from American Foley, who completed his takeover of the south-coast club in December.

“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.

“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.”

Bournemouth have announced the appointment of Gary O'Neil as the club's head coach, following a stint as interim boss.

The 39-year-old has penned an 18-month contract with the Cherries, with the option to extend for a further year, having taken charge of 12 matches this season since stepping up from his role as first-team coach.

Bournemouth lost three of their opening four games in the Premier League, including a 9-0 hammering against Liverpool, and axed Scott Parker from his position before O'Neil swiftly steadied the ship.

A six-match unbeaten streak marked the start of O'Neil's tenure, though that was followed by four defeats in a row.

However, Bournemouth secured back-to-back wins against Everton in the EFL Cup and Premier League before the season paused for the World Cup in Qatar and O'Neil has now been given the job on a permanent basis, despite rumours the club had been speaking to Marcelo Bielsa.

"Gary did an excellent job on an interim basis and the board are delighted to make his position as head coach permanent," chief executive Neill Blake said.

"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."

Bournemouth return to action with an EFL Cup tie against Newcastle United on December 21, before resuming their Premier League campaign six days later against Chelsea.

Bournemouth caretaker boss Gary O'Neil is focusing on on-field matters amid reports Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley could complete a takeover of the Premier League club.

Foley has been credited with an interest in the Cherries as existing owner Maxim Demin attempts to sell the club, with a deal potentially set to be completed before the World Cup.

Bournemouth parted company with head coach Scott Parker just four games into the season last month, and takeover talks may mean O'Neil receives an extended audition for the top job.

However, speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Newcastle United, O'Neil said: "Obviously, I'm not involved in any discussions like that. 

"I've been hard at work over on the other side, on the grass.

"Takeovers and discussions of that level are obviously a long way from my mind, and what I'm focused on at the moment, which is Newcastle. It's going to be a big test."

Saturday's game will be particularly notable for opposing coach Eddie Howe, who spent 11 years at Bournemouth across two spells, overseeing their initial rise from League Two to the Premier League, as well as representing the club as a player.

Howe used his own pre-match news conference to discuss the sense of occasion he feels ahead of the match at St James' Park.

"I personally feel a huge sense of gratitude to the club and everyone connected with it. I wouldn't be sat here now if it wasn't for AFC Bournemouth," the Newcastle coach said.

"We'll be competing to win the game and are desperate to do so, but it will be a special game for us."

Newcastle have suffered a number of injuries to key players in the season's early weeks, but Howe would not disclose information on the status of Bruno Guimaraes, Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson.

"Everyone has improved, but I'll leave my team news until the time we get it," he said. "It's been a slightly difficult period for us, but hopefully we're coming out of that. They are big players for us, and we need them back quickly."

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