Bournemouth have appointed Andoni Iraola as their manager on a two-year contract after sacking Gary O’Neil. Iraola was free to take charge after leaving Rayo Vallecano at the end of the season.
After Scott Parker left, O’Neil was fired after leading Bournemouth to Premier League safety. O’Neil was reportedly advised on Monday morning that the club intended to embrace a different style of play in order to speed their progress, which caught everyone off guard behind the scenes.
Iraola, a 40-year-old former Athletic Bilbao midfielder, was on Bournemouth’s shortlist when Parker was fired last August but was unwilling to go mid-season. Leeds’ attempt to sign him in February proved unsuccessful too.
Iraola spent three seasons with Rayo, achieving promotion to La Liga and finishing 12th and 11th, respectively. He started his coaching career in Cyprus with AEK Larnaca.
Bill Foley, the American owner of Bournemouth, came to the conclusion that O’Neil could not lead the team to the goals he had set for it.
After his ice hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights, won the Stanley Cup last week, Foley stated last week that he wants modest upgrades at Bournemouth following a 15th-place finish.
Foley said of Iraola: “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. His achievements in Spain have certainly been very impressive, and we’re confident that he is the right man to lead our next chapter.”
O’Neil had two years on his contract after an extension was automatically triggered by avoiding relegation. He was hired as manager, firstly in an interim role, when the team was last in the league following a 9-0 loss against Liverpool.
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.
“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.
“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. I would like to place on record my thanks to Gary and wish him all the best for the future.”
The 78-year-old Foley, who acquired Bournemouth from Maxim Demin last December, plans to construct a new stadium, and the new training facility is scheduled to open in the autumn of 2019.
Foley purchased a share in the Ligue 1 team Lorient in January. Bournemouth is scheduled to play Lorient in the pre-season.