AFC Bournemouth manager Lee Bradbury completes one year in the job

By Nabil HassanBBC Sport
Lee Bradbury
Bradbury made 126 league appearances for Bournemouth as a player

Lee Bradbury completes 12 months in charge of Bournemouth on Monday, and last week he celebrated his one-year anniversary with the best possible present - a bumper new contract.

Chairman Eddie Mitchell told BBC Sport the decision to offer Bradbury was "a no brainer" and that he had no doubt he was "the right man" to lead the Cherries into the Championship.

Off the pitch things could not be better at Bournemouth, with the council today set to approve the club's plans for new training pitches in Kings Park while talks are ongoing for the Cherries to buy back their Dean Court stadium.

The club are also trying to spend big money with £500,000 bids for Crawley striker Matt Tubbs and Swindon midfielder Matt Ritchie turned down in recent weeks while Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Wes Thomas and Scott Malone have already arrived in permanent deals this transfer window.

But on the pitch, are things as rosy? While Mitchell and new Russian co-owner Maxim Demin have brought stability and security off the pitch, on it, the statistics suggest things are anything but.

Saturday's win against Notts County for instance brought Bournemouth's first back-to-back home victories of the season. Before the game the Cherries' home record was the worst in the division.

Of the 57 games Bradbury has been in charge of, the club have won 21, lost 18 and drawn 18. But their success this season has been built on formidable away form which has seen Bradbury's side go 11 games unbeaten on the road and chasing a club record 13. The last time they did that was in 1973-74 under Bill McGarry's stewardship.

It has helped Bournemouth move to within four points of the League One play off positions, and when he looks back at his first year in charge, Bradbury admits it has been a steep learning curve.

"It's been an eye opener but I've thoroughly enjoyed it," Bradbury told BBC Radio Solent.

His year in charge included a heartbreaking play-off semi-final defeat by Huddersfield on penalties.

"In 120 minutes of that play-off I went through every emotion and then again in the penalties," added Bradbury.

"That is all history now and if we ever get there again, I've got that experience and memory in the bank."

Bradbury says one game sticks out in the memory from the past 12 months, the 1-0 victory over Brighton in his first home game in charge.

"That feeling has stayed with me and is probably the reason I am still sat here now," he admits.

The 36-year-old has had to shoulder a fair bit of criticism since he took over. While he made a blistering start to management - unbeaten in 10 games - Bournemouth stuttered into the play-offs before Huddersfield defeated them on penalties and the start to the current campaign was inauspicious to say the least.

And Bradbury admits the past 12 months has "changed him as a manager and a person" but he will continue with his policy of being "open and honest' with the players.

Former Cherries defender John 'Willo' Williams has seen nearly every game of Bradbury's tenure in his role as summariser for BBC Radio Solent and he is full of praise when analysing Bradbury's first year in management.

"I guess if I had to grade him I would give him a B+ or an A-," Williams told BBC Sport.

"Lee got off to a flyer making the play-offs but it wasn't his team, it was Eddie Howe's.

"The summer was a new start for him and the chance for him to build his own team. He had got some fantastic deals for some young unproven players such as Josh McQuoid and Danny Ings and is lucky to have a chairman who is prepared to re-invest that money back into the squad.

"He's made some excellent signings and I feel he has built a squad capable of challenging for promotion."

Williams says the current feel-good factor surrounding the club reminds him of when he arrived at Dean Court in 1986 having been signed by the then-manager Harry Redknapp.

He attributes a lot of that to Mitchell and Demin but says Bradbury too must take some of the credit and refuted suggestions he had not yet won over the fans at Dean Court.

"I think it has been a gradual process for the fans to take to Lee," said Williams.

"But I think they are now by and large behind him.

"They have been through so much and ultimately like all fans they will judge Lee on results."

Only time will tell if those results mean Bradbury is still at Dean Court in 12 months' time.