To look at the highlights of the Premier League over the last few years. The average football fan would likely comment on Leicester's title-winning campaign in 2015/16, the continued drama surrounding Manchester United, and the recent dominance of Manchester City. They would likely note the shocking relegations of certain clubs (Newcastle) and miraculous survival of others.
But buried in the constant ebb and flow of shifting fortunes in England's top flight is a success story that deserves recognition - that of AFC Bournemouth.
The Cherries have been an ever-present club in the Premier League since the 2015/16 season, which, if you think about it, is quite remarkable.
A little over 10 years ago, in February 2008, Bournemouth nearly went out of business completely as they struggled to survive in League One. The club had debts of £4m, and the 10-point deduction they suffered as a result of being forced into administration meant that they were doomed to suffer relegation to League Two.
Things didn't get much better the following season, as the Football League threatened to block Bournemouth's participation in League Two unless they could find a way out of administration, and prove they could play all their fixtures. The Cherries were allowed to compete - albeit with a 17-point penalty for failing to follow the Football League insolvency rules.
Such a points deduction would surely spell the end for most clubs - but not Bournemouth. Midway through the season a certain former player named Eddie Howe took over as manager, with the club 10 points from safety.
In a great escape for the ages, the Cherries won their final home game of the 2008/9 season, securing their survival (perhaps their very existence) for another year.
ON THIS DAY: In 2008 Bournemouth were deducted points and started their League Two campaign on -17 points after entering administration.— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) August 8, 2018
Flash forward 10 years and they're about to start their 4th consecutive season in the Premier League!
What a story! 🍒 pic.twitter.com/1l9lzMK7it
From 2009 to 2015, the club began to enjoy a meteoric rise, earning promotion to League One in '09, followed by promotion to the Championship in 2012. Finally, in 2015, the unthinkable happened. Bournemouth, a club that entered administration eight years prior, won promotion to the Premier League, where they have stayed ever since.
It really is remarkable. Bournemouth are an oddity in the Premier League. Consider these financial statistics from the 2016/17 season (provided by The Guardian), compared to West Ham, as an example.
|TV Rights and Commercial||£124m||£145m|
|Retail and Merchandising||£1m||£10m|
|Profit Before Tax||£15m||£43m|
Quite the gulf in these figures, and yet, Bournemouth have finished higher in the table than the Hammers every season they've been in the league, bar their first in the top flight in 2015/16. At the time of writing Bournemouth sit in sixth, while West Ham are in 13th.
Bournemouth also have the smallest ground in the division by some margin (11,360), but the Vitality Stadium provides an apt reflection for this club and its never-say-die attitude. Eddie Howe has compiled a collection of players that, in previous years, didn't turn a lot of heads, but is now fearless, regardless of the opposition.
Callum Wilson, despite suffering terrible luck with injuries, has scored six goals this season and earned his first call-up to the England squad. Jefferson Lerma, the club's record signing from the summer, has performed admirably in his defensive midfield role.
The Cherries currently enjoy the sixth-best goal difference in the table. They currently sit just four points outside of an automatic Europa League qualification spot.
Enormous credit must go to Howe for sticking by the club, but one wonders if he will always stay so loyal. He's clearly demonstrated his football acumen, and it may not be long before a club with vastly superior resources comes calling for the 40-year-old Englishman.
But, until that time comes (if it ever does), we must all enjoy and take inspiration from AFC Bournemouth - a club that continues to prove that in football, anything is possible.