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