Gary O’Neil sacked in shock first Premier League change of the summer

The first Premier League sacking of the summer has come from a surprise source, with Bournemouth parting ways with their manager Gary O’Neil.

O’Neil left Liverpool, where he served as an academy coach, to join Scott Parker’s Bournemouth staff in 2021, before taking his place 18 months later.

His appointment came after an impressive interim run, and the 40-year-old steered the Cherries well clear of relegation with 10 wins and six draws from 34 games last season.

That included a 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Dean Court, with Bournemouth finishing the campaign in 15th – five points clear of the bottom three.

But Monday brought the shock news that O’Neil has been relieved of his duties, becoming the first Premier League manager sacked after the end of the season.

While Chelsea and Tottenham have recently appointed new managers in Mauricio Pochettino and Ange Postecoglou, their vacancies were long open.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 11, 2023: Bournemouth's Dominic Solanke (C) is challenged by Liverpool's Diogo Jota (R) during the FA Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at the Vitality Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In a club statement, Bournemouth owner and chairman Bill Foley said: “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.”

Foley explained that there were “plans in place for long-term success” with “a number of significant targets” identified for the summer transfer window.

Clearly, O’Neil did not figure in those plans despite his record last season, with a new appointment described by the club as “imminent.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, November 6, 2020: Liverpool's Under-23 coach Barry Lewtas (R) and assistant coach Gary O'Neil during the pre-match warm-up before the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between West Ham United FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at Rush Green. Liverpool won 4-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool brought O’Neil in as assistant to under-21s manager Barry Lewtas in 2020, with the Reds’ head of development analysis Tim Jenkins later following him to Bournemouth.

In an interview with The Athletic on Sunday, academy director Alex Inglethorpe hailed the impact O’Neil and Jenkins had at Dean Court.

“It was no surprise to me that they avoided relegation with relative ease given the quality of the people they brought in,” he said.

O’Neil was touted as a manager of the season contender upon Bournemouth‘s survival – now, he will be seeking new employment.

Such is life in the Premier League.

UPDATE: Bournemouth have since announced Spaniard Andoni Iraola as their new manager. He spent the last three seasons at Rayo Vallecano.