Steve Cook on loss of Cher­ries’ strike ace WE CAN STILL GRABB OUR BIG CHANCE WITH­OUT LEW

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Bai­ley

BOURNEMOUTH will be play-off con­tenders next sea­son de­spite the im­mi­nent de­par­ture of striker Lewis Grab­ban, ac­cord­ing to Cher­ries de­fender Steve Cook.

Rel­e­gated Cardiff have wasted lit­tle time in tar­get­ing Grab­ban as the man to lead them back to the Pre­mier League af­ter Bournemouth

ac­cepted a bid from the Blue­birds on Thurs­day night. The fee is thought to be in ex­cess of £3m – the re­lease clause fig­ure in the 26-year-old’s con­tract – which marks a re­mark­able rise for Grab­ban, who moved to the south coast for just £300,000 two years ago from Rother­ham.

But it is easy to un­der­stand why Grab­ban is in such high de­mand, his 22 goals helped haul the Cher­ries to within touch­ing dis­tance of the play­offs this sea­son.

But though Cook will be dis­ap­pointed to see Grab­ban go, he be­lieves the wind­fall will help Ed­die Howe lead the club to even greater heights next term.

“Who­ever is in the team next year, I don’t think the club will stand still and be happy with what we have done,” said Cook.

Mas­sive

“We have an am­bi­tious man­ager and Pre­mier League is the aim – that’s what ev­ery­one’s go­ing for, but next sea­son I think we have a chance.

“We wanted to be the best Bournemouth side in his­tory and we did that, fin­ish­ing tenth for our high­est-ever league po­si­tion.

“The aim is to bet­ter that and do that we’ll have to be push­ing for the play-offs again.

“Lewis is a great player and was mas­sive for us last sea­son, but there were a lot of other play­ers who got us to where we fin­ished.”

Only when front­manYann Ker­mor­gant started to warm up af­ter mak­ing the switch from Charl­ton in Jan­uary did the Cher­ries truly start to look up­wards again fol­low­ing pro­mo­tion from League One.

The French­man fired a hat­trick against Don­caster to spark a run of six wins in March, bring­ing Bournemouth to within two points of the play-offs in early April.

They even­tu­ally bowed out of the race with just one game to go and Cook in­sists Ker­mor­gant, who bagged nine goals in to­tal, was ev­ery bit as im­por­tant as Grab­ban to the Cher­ries’ late surge.

“We went through a rough patch around Christ­mas time and then ev­ery­thing just seemed to click when we had a set­tled team – March was un­be­liev­able for us,” added 23-year-old Cook. “It was a sur­prise to ev­ery­one, re­ally.

“Yann was prob­a­bly the miss­ing piece for us.We were putting balls into the box and there was no one there to fin­ish, and he’s so good in the air.

“We needed a dif­fer­ent sort of striker and he linked up re­ally well with Grabbs and gave us some­thing we didn’t have.

“But even with­out their part­ner­ship we will still chal­lenge.”

Cook points to his for­mer club Brighton as the per­fect ex­am­ple for the Cher­ries to learn from.

The Seag­ulls also fin­ished tenth in their first cam­paign back in the Cham­pi­onship in 2012, and reached the play-offs for a sec­ond suc­ces­sive sea­son this year be­fore Steve McClaren’s Derby knocked them out at the semi-fi­nal stage.

“Of teams re­cently com­ing up from League One, Brighton have set the bench­mark of how to do it,” added Cook, who started his pro­fes­sional ca­reer with Brighton in 2008.

“They have a good fan­base, sta­dium, and are well set up for the fu­ture.

“I ob­vi­ously didn’t play as much as I wanted to at Brighton but I think with Bournemouth I’m in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion to them.

“Hope­fully we will be able to copy what they have done next year.”

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