Remember when Eddie Howe insinuated that Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha had cheated to win penalties against the Cherries during our last meeting at Selhurst Park? It seems the man himself had forgotten all about it when conducting his post-match interviews in the aftermath of last weekend’s game.
It’s curious but over the last few years, Bournemouth fans appear to have taken a real dislike towards the Palace academy graduate. Whilst that sense of anger is likely born out of the fact that he possesses more talent than anyone currently on their books, I think it’s fair of me to suggest that a degree of their collective disgust has been helped along by the comments Howe made back in December.
For those of you who are struggling to recall the exact wording Howe used following our last clash, here it is for you to revisit: “Charlie’s got the ball. That really hurts in the last seconds of the game. It would have been really hard on us. The first penalty, talking to the players, they feel it’s not clear cut and could have gone either way. I’m taking my players’ word for it, you don’t want to see diving in the game. If there is something to be viewed I’m sure the authorities will view it. You don’t want to see any team cheating intentionally.”
Funny then, that on Saturday, the Bournemouth gaffer denied all knowledge of ever having said such a thing, choosing instead to focus on the brilliance of a player who looked to have won the game for the Eagles with a stunning solo goal midway through the second half.
Quite why a man in a high-profile position such as Howe should be allowed to sweep his previous accusations under the carpet when his own team benefited from “cheating” for Defoe’s opener in SE25 that day is anyone’s guess but I for one am keen not to let him get away with it completely.
Whilst plenty of pundits love to trumpet Bournemouth as the plucky underdogs punching above their weight in the top flight with slick, passing football, in truth, they are just as, if not more cynical than every other team operating in the Premier League.
To accuse a player from another team of cheating only to deny all knowledge of having done so just four months later is slimy to say the least. He may look like the polite boy next door who’s reluctantly knocked to ask for his ball back but Howe can actually be quite a nasty piece of work when the mood takes him; a trait I’d almost admire if he had the balls to stand by his words when reminded of them at a later date.
I dare say he wouldn’t have been anywhere near as charitable in his musings this time around if his players hadn’t managed to snatch a last-minute equaliser.