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Humble Bournemouth to stick to winning formula

AFC Bournemouth players celebrate during the open top bus parade

By Michael Hann

True to their humble roots Bournemouth have resisted the temptation to mark their new-found Premier League status with a splurge of spending, sticking to their principles as they prepare to mix it with the big boys.

The south-coast club, about to embark on the first top-flight campaign in their 116-year history, took the Championship by storm last season, scoring 98 goals as they won the title.

Manager Eddie Howe’s attack-minded 4-4-2 system could be vulnerable against the heavyweights of the top flight, but Bournemouth will surely earn friends with their playing style.

Whether or not they can earn enough points is another matter, but Howe will keep faith with largely the same group of players who excelled last season.

Experienced defender Sylvain Distin has joined and midfielder Christian Atsu arrived on loan from Chelsea, but the 120 million pounds cash boost for reaching the promised land is being saved for a rainy day.

Distin’s signing may prove to be highly astute.

The knowledge the Frenchman will be able to impart on his new defensive colleagues could prove invaluable.

However, it could be an entirely different story if he himself is called upon regularly to lead by example.

His final months at Everton were demonstrative of a rapidly waning ability.

Since the Premier League’s inception in 1992 only twice — in 2001-02 and 2011-12 — have all three promoted teams avoided the drop.

Watford and Norwich City are the other two promoted sides hoping to consolidate their rise.

Watford will contest their third season in the Premier League, having finished bottom in both the 1999-2000 and 2006-07 campaigns.

Spaniard Quique Sanchez Flores has replaced Slavisa Jokanovic as manager, while player recruitment has been high at Vicarage Road in an attempt to boost their survival chances.

The likes of former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Etienne Capoue, Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami and Austria defender Sebastian Prodl have added experience to the Watford ranks.

Norwich, who bounced straight back via the playoffs after being relegated from the Premier League in 2014, already boast plenty of top-flight experience in the likes of keeper John Ruddy, winger Nathan Redmond and striker Cameron Jerome.

Alex Neil, who becomes the Premier League’s youngest manager at 34, led Norwich to promotion following his arrival from Scottish side Hamilton Academical at the start of the year.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Neil told TalkSport.

“Like my squad, I’m not daunted by it and we are looking forward to the challenge.

“You want to try and compete at the highest level. I’ve just managed to get there quicker than anticipated.”

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