‘We’re fully expecting a reaction’ – Former Norwich midfielder says Bournemouth will be ready for rejuvenated City
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Ahead of Saturday’s clash with Norwich City, Bournemouth midfielder Andrew Surman spoke to David Freezer about his former club’s attempts to become established in the Premier League.
Norwich City may have had a grim defeat to dwell on during the international break but Saturday's opponents Bournemouth can offer inspiration for a revival.
The Cherries have become an established Premier League force under Eddie Howe and are enjoying their fifth consecutive season in the top flight.
Former Canaries midfielder Andrew Surman has been an integral part of that success and recalls that Bournemouth had to overcome their own difficult start to a campaign in 2017-18 - only to eventually finish 12th.
"It's easy to go through periods in the Premier League without a win," the 33-year-old said. "A couple of seasons ago we lost our first four games, we were rock bottom of the league with no points and we still managed to finish 12th, we ended up having a really good season.
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"You do run out of games and you do need to get points on the board as early as you can. It becomes more and more difficult, especially over the Christmas period, when you have a lot of games and sometimes you can have injuries."
City's major problem has been that those injuries mounted up early, contributing to six defeats in the opening eight games, and Surman knows all about how difficult it is to hit top-flight standards having been a key part of Bournemouth's promotion.
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"It's a massive step, especially when you come up against the so called 'top six', they are another level above the other teams in the Premier League," he continued. "Adrenaline gets you through the first five to 10 games when you're still riding a crest of a wave from promotion, that gets you so far, it's all new, everyone's hungry and got a point to prove.
"It's just sustaining that and I suppose, with 'second season syndrome' as they call it, can you keep those motivation levels, because everyone gets used to the Premier League and the novelty isn't the same as when you first get promoted. It is tough, it's very difficult to get wins in the Premier League. I know that sounds silly but it is, because there are no easy games. Every team has got players that can hurt you, whether they are at the top of the league or the bottom.
"But Norwich have had a good start to the season, a massive win against Man City, which I watched, and they've got an exciting team. So I'm sure they'll be fine but it's obviously going to be a big game on Saturday."
Surman joined Norwich in 2011 as Paul Lambert built the team which would earn Championship promotion and then go on to finish 12th in the Premier League, scoring eight goals in 58 games.
A knee injury thwarted his progress and after a season on loan at Bournemouth, a move reportedly worth around £500,000 saw that switch become permanent in September 2014.
He was due to play in the celebration match marking the Canaries careers of Wes Hoolahan and Russell Martin at the end of last season but had to pull out due to the calf injury which finished his season in March.
"I've still got fond memories and great memories of being there," he recalled. "I left the club on good terms but things just dwindled off a bit towards the end."
The South Africa-born midfielder was the Cherries' captain for much of last season, with Simon Francis out injured, but all three of his league appearances have come from the bench this season.
"It's been a slow one for me so far but in a way that's the natural progression at the top level of football," Surman explained.
"Every year teams are adding to their squads, players come in and the squad keeps evolving all the time. You've just got to be patient and wait for your chance. When I first joined and we got promoted I was playing week in, week out. It is tough to deal with mentally when you're not playing but it's a squad game, you can get injuries and get your chance when you least expect it."
With his Bournemouth contract up at the end of the season, Surman has completed his Uefa B Licence with an eye on a coaching future, but is still hoping to continue playing for a while yet.
And with the experience of almost 450 games on his CV, the former England U21 international expects Norwich to be fired up on Saturday, following their shock 5-1 home loss to Aston Villa before the international break.
He concluded: "We're fully expecting a reaction and fully expecting Norwich to be at their best. We know what they're capable of, so it's going to be a really tough game.
"You can't look at the last result or anything like that, you've just got to approach it as a one-off game. Everyone is focussed on this game and we know that Norwich have got strengths and that we've got to make sure we deal with those.
"It should be a good game of football. Obviously I'm going to say I hope that we come out on top but hopefully it will be a good game."