Eddie Howe and Craig Shakespeare were effusive in the praise for their teams after Saturday afternoon’s clash at the Vitality Stadium.
However, one was clearly happier than the other. On a night where AFC Bournemouth really should have won against an ineffective Leicester, Eddie Howe admitted the Cherries would have taken their chances on another day. Craig Shakespeare, on the other hand, praised his side’s ‘resilience’ after a clean sheet.
It was a match of few moments down on the South Coast. The most notable was an early penalty shout for Bournemouth, with Marc Pugh‘s goalbound shot striking Danny Simpson‘s arm in the third minute. Bournemouth kept creating chance after chance, with Lewis Cook impressing in midfield. Leicester were limited to long balls for frontman Jamie Vardy, who endured a frustrating night. Ultimately, though, neither team managed to hit the back of the net.
“Desperately disappointed not to win”
Eddie Howe was perplexed when asked how his side didn’t win the game. “Difficult to know. I thought we started really well. We did well to maintain that really, throughout most of the game. We created a number of clear-cut chances. On another day we score, we score a few.
However, Bournemouth’s performance did give Howe reason to be optimistic. “I’m very pleased with the team’s defensive shape. To get our first clean sheet of the season is a big moment for us. So we have to cling to those positives. But, we’re desperately disappointed not to win.”
When asked about the penalty call, Howe expressed sympathy for the referee. “I can’t be clever here, I’ve got sympathy for him. I didn’t see it at the time, it was on the opposite side of the pitch from me. The only thing I could see was Marc Pugh’s reaction. Knowing the player, as I do, that gave me a sign that there was something amiss. Only when you see it again, slowed down, you see it’s a clear cut penalty.”
However, he was quick to downplay the incident. “That’s not the reason we didn’t win today, it was very much in our hands. We didn’t take those moments, those chances, when they came. So that’s why we didn’t win.”
Asked about the man of the match, Cook, making his first start, Howe was unreserved in his praise. “[Cook was] very good. Lewis is unique to the other midfielders that we have. Passes the ball very well, very composed. Defensively today I thought he was excellent. His energy levels were very strong. I thought he complemented Andrew Surman very well, they worked well as a pair today.”
Howe also praised his side’s defensive prowess. “The challenge for us today as every [chance] went by, [was that] you’ve got to make sure you don’t concede at the other end. With players like Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, you worry that one moment of quality from them could swing it their way. We did that really well. The set play threat they’ve got with the long throw, we dealt with that well.”
The Bournemouth boss was ultimately positive about his side’s overall showing. “I don’t think it’s doom and gloom for us. It’s a positive day, a very good performance. If we continue to hit those levels we’ll be fine.”
“We have to be happy with a point”
The Leicester manager, Shakespeare, looked slightly relieved as he walked into the press room. When asked about his appraisal, the Englishman boasted that it was a “hard earned point. I thought Bournemouth started really, really well. We struggled to get the pace of the game. I thought the momentum was with Bournemouth, we had to show a lot of resilience in terms of defending. We couldn’t quite get our usual passing game, and also offensively we’d have liked to cause Bournemouth a lot more problems. On reflection, we have to be happy with a point. Bournemouth will probably be disappointed.”
Shakespeare also talked up the value of the clean sheet. “I thought we had a great chance with Shinji [Okazaki] to really snatch all three points in the end. I think we have to be mindful that Bournemouth played well, but we showed a lot of resilience and got a clean sheet.”
Shakespeare was asked if Vardy’s vexing night would impact his confidence. The former said, “I know Jamie is very confident person, lots of self belief. I’d like to have gotten a bit of support to him today, felt he was quite isolated at times. We went too direct when two passes would have been better. But again, we know how important Jamie is to us.”
Shakespeare weighed in on the early penalty call as well. “It was a hard call for the ref because it happended so quick. There wasn’t a lot of movement with Danny [Simpson]’s arm. The ref would’ve seen it, he made a quick decision as you have to and didn’t give it.”
The two teams now head into the second international break of the season. Following on from which, AFC Bournemouth travel to Wembley to face a strong Tottenham Hotspur side while Leicester have a comparatively manageable home match against West Brom. Both teams will look to improve on their performance after a chance to regroup.