Bournemouth announced they had hired Andoni Iraola as their new manager just hours after the shock sacking of Gary O’Neil on Monday.
Iraola agreed a two-year contract with the Premier League club following the expiry of his contract with Spanish side Rayo Vallecano.
The Spaniard’s move to the Vitality Stadium came as a major surprise after O’Neil’s impressive work in keeping Bournemouth in the English top flight last season.
“We’re so excited to welcome Andoni to the club,” said Bournemouth chairman Bill Foley. “With his contract in Spain coming to an end this summer we wanted to act quickly.”
Iraola’s three-year spell with Vallecano ended with an 11th-placed finish in La Liga this season.
He earned promotion to La Liga in his first season with the club in 2020/21, before taking the team to the Copa Del Rey semi-finals in the following campaign.
The 40-year-old, who had a long playing career with Athletic Bilbao, started his managerial journey at AEK Larnaca in Cyprus and also took charge of Segunda Division side Mirandes prior to joining Vallecano.
Iraola was targeted by Leeds following their relegation from the Premier League this season, but he opted for the challenge of maintaining Bournemouth’s progress in the top tier.
“He was highly sought after by other clubs across the continent, and his style of play has been an important factor in making this decision,” Foley said.
“His achievements in Spain have certainly been very impressive and we’re confident that he is the right man to lead our next chapter.”
The decision to dismiss O’Neil and appoint the relatively unheralded Iraola came as a shock to Cherries fans.
O’Neil replaced Scott Parker at the end of August and led the team to a 15th-place finish in the Premier League.
He initially took over from Parker on an interim basis following a 9-0 hammering at Liverpool before being appointed permanently in November.
The 40-year-old took 36 points from his 34 top-flight games in charge.
“Gary’s achievement last season is one I will always be grateful for,” Foley said.
“This has been a difficult decision, but it has been made with great consideration to best position ourselves ahead of the coming season.
Iraola will begin work with Bournemouth’s squad next month ahead of his Premier League debut at home to West Ham on August 12.
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