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Simon Mason is a passionate fan, who joined Footstock in the virtual tournament boom earlier this year. He now has to navigate Footstock relegation for his treasured Cherries squad.

It has been a tough week to be a fan of AFC Bournemouth. Relegation from the top flight of English football, followed by the departure of one of the best managers in the club’s history.

Bournemouth’s stay in the Premier League lasted for five years, four more than many fans would have expected upon the club winning the Championship. But it is fair to say, that Bournemouth deserved to be there for that amount of time. They played attractive football, many neutral fans don’t really have a bad word to say about Bournemouth, and they had one of the absolute gems of English football managers in Eddie Howe.

A man who has masterminded an absolute turnaround in the whole ethos of the club, and took us from the depths of despair to the holy grail of the Premier League. When Eddie Howe took over the reigns, Bournemouth were second from bottom in the fourth tier of English football – his mission was to ensure the survival of AFC Bournemouth – not only in the football league, but as a club.

In that first season, where the Cherries had started the season on minus 17 points, Eddie survived, and the following season led us to promotion. He had a brief stint with Burnley, but upon returning, he picked up where he left off, with two further promotions in the space of three seasons. Bournemouth were in the Premier League, and Eddie Howe was rewarded with the first ever Football League Manager of the Decade Award in 2015.

So to see him leave the club this week was tough, and I for one see it as a great hole in the club and a hole that will be difficult to fill. Now you may be thinking I’m going off on a tangent here, and to be fair I am, but its important to set this backstory, because the decision and appointment of the next manager could be the difference between your AFC Bournemouth Footstock relegation cards being inactive for more than one season or becoming active again in just a year’s time.

Bournemouth have certainly shown their pedigree in the Premier League, but will need some luck and an improvement in performances in order to get back to the promised land. They will also need to keep some of their top players, and today we will look at just a few of the players that you may want to hang on to a bit longer and not go straight to that swap shop.

There’s plenty of ways to play Footstock relegation, as we all know, and plenty of ways to make profit and make the best of your cards. As always, never rush, never panic, and consider all options. Let’s get started on the top five players to keep in your Collection, rather than swapping.

1. David Brooks

David Brooks was always going to be the first name on my list. Seven goals and five assists in his first season with the Cherries showed that Brooks had a hugely impressive attacking threat, but he was unable to show that same level of performance this season. He was ruled out of the first 30 games of the season through injury and only returned to a post-lockdown relegation battle, in which many had hoped he would inspire the team to improved performances. And although we saw sparks of why he was brought down to the south coast from Sheffield United, I for one was disappointed with the lack of impact his performances had.

A lot of this may have still been due to his injury, and he obviously was not at full fitness (he only played 506 minutes in his nine appearances), often being substituted early in the second half. At 22 years old, he is certainly going to have a bright future, and may be a target for other clubs this summer. I am hopeful he remains at AFC Bournemouth, and flourishes in the Championship, but with rumours of interest from Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham United, AFCB might struggle to keep him.

The only concern from those clubs will be his fitness and his potential injury proneness. We don’t know what team David Brooks will be playing for next season, but one thing for me is certain – he is a must have in your Footstock relegation Collection. If he transfers back to one of those top flight teams, I think he will cement his place and prove to be a valuable addition. If he remains on the South Coast, it won’t be long before we do see him back in the Premier League. You can also consider that the Euro 2020 tournament will take place in 2021, where Brooks is likely to play a key role for Wales.

2. Callum Wilson

Callum Wilson is another player whose performances perhaps left something to be desired this season, but the same can be said for many Bournemouth players. Wilson often found himself in the right position, but he could not convert many of his chances into goals.

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