Ahh derby day. Wait a minute. Is Sunday a derby day for us? Sky Sports seem to be running with it so I guess we should take that as gospel.
Anyway, we spoke to die-hard Bournemouth fan Peter Humphrey to get his take on the new "rivalry", AFC Bournemouth's injury woes, why Eddie Howe is the best human being on the planet, and more.
We'd like to thank Peter for this time in helping us with this.
St. Mary's Musings: What were your expectations for the season and have they changed since?
Peter Humphrey: My expectations were for us to avoid relegation, and as August 8th came about, I was confident of that. I thought we'd do it by a margin. So confident was I, I placed £100 at the bookies. As documented, injuries have killed us. £15million of new signings have been ruled out for most of the season, our star midfielder has just returned, our captain is out for another two months and everyone knows about Callum Wilson. My hope remains that we can stay up, but it will be by the skin of our teeth, of that much I am sure. A lot depends on recruitment in January.
SMM: It surprises Southampton fans that Bournemouth fans don't seem to like them. Why is this?
PH: That's not true of all of us. You have that faction of our fanbase that dislikes Southampton, but I think that comes from years of no real rivals and wanting what most other clubs have. I think there may be an aspect of Bournemouth fans feeling a bit left out after years of being the quiet boys down the road. I think some of our fans simply want to dish a bit out now we have the football team to back it up.
Myself, I have a Saints supporting side of the family. My father was a boyhood Southampton fan before he switched sides (smart man!!) when he met my mother. He moved down here, saw Bournemouth were playing, went and has gone since. I still visit Southampton often and have a lot of friends and family there. I'd suggest the rivalry is more friendly and a bit of "banter", nothing more, nothing less. I hope our section of fans, just as yours, don't cross the line Sunday. I see nothing wrong with a bit of banter and fun, though I do question why Saints fans are so ready to write us off as insignificant and such. I'd have thought you were after a plaything with Pompey languishing in the league! Saints will always have some respect from us long-term fans for helping us when we needed it most. That's not forgotten.
SMM: How do you think Portsmouth fans will feel about the newly dubbed South Coast derby?
PH: I think they have other things to worry about! I'm sure they are more bothered about getting back to where they do probably belong. I'm sure a part of them are upset and I would be too, even some Saints fans, whilst they won't admit it, would welcome them back up the league as I'm sure both sides of the divide miss the games and the fun that goes along with it.
SMM: What do you think about Eddie Howe?
PH: What can I say about the man? I'm sure many of you know the story, there's no point in relaying it all, but the bloke is just a stellar human being. He's linked with this club like no other manager of a club in this country. He is the heart and soul of this club. We all love him, he loves us and that's what has led us here. His record is phenomenal and I would never, ever advocate sacking him or any nonsense like that. He could take us down and we could struggle next season and I'd still worship him as a god and I think 99.9% of our fans would agree with me.
As an example of the man, I was at breakfast with a fellow fan last week and that fan was personally rang by the club and told Eddie and Steve Fletcher had been talking and wanted to set something up for his ill grandson (who is losing his sight) to be able to get tickets to a game. He was given a VIP tour and welcomed as though he was part of the club. It was special and the sort of spirit we lost and were so happy to get back when Eddie returned.
SMM: How do you view Southampton as a club?
PH: Southampton is a club all should follow in terms of how it runs itself. Always tries to get the best deal for the club, has true links to the community, its youth system is second to none, its scouting is thorough. At a time when many clubs are panicked and lurching from crisis to crisis, Southampton have led the way in how to manage a crisis (if you can call the last couple of summers at Saints a crisis). A business plan which has worked to a tee, whether people like it or not.
I have a lot of respect for Saints approach and it's something we've always tried to replicate. There are a lot of parallels in that regard and I hope we can our ideals with our new found success in a similar regard to how Saints did, even after the fall and then rise back to the Premier League.
SMM: Artur Boruc is having a bit of a nightmare at Bournemouth right now. What are your thoughts on him?
PH: People can search my tweets to see what I think of him. Boruc had a stellar season last time out, but did have a couple of "moments", to put it kindly. This season has been a shocker based alone on his performance at home to Tottenham, let alone the mistakes he had made weeks prior. His attitude has not looked great and he has cost us a lot of points. I still back him, as I do all our players, but he has some serious making up to do. I've never see as calamitous performance as his last time at home but I feel we may have seen the last of him for a while as Federici performed well in midweek against Liverpool and though prone to errors himself, probably deserves a run to prove he has what it takes, starting with this weekend.
SMM: Bournemouth have been really unfortunate with injury. Who is your most notable omission for Sunday?
PH: Wilson without a doubt. We performed well once we started picking up injuries, but Wilson being out was the last blow. When Elphick went, it then fell apart further. Wilson's pace and strength is incredible, a willing outlet who can just as easily hold the ball up as spin in behind, playing off the shoulder or running out wide. He scores all sorts of goals and is one of the best strikers we've ever had the pleasure of having. I pray he comes back as before, because there's no doubt he was on the cusp of an England call and probably a big money move this summer, one that, providing the price had of been right, I'd have wished him well with.
SMM: What Bournemouth player should Saints be wary of and why?
PH: A fit one?! In all seriousness, Matt Ritchie. Harry Arter is another one, but he is just coming back to fitness. Ritchie is the man who can open up a defence. He'll shoot from anywhere, is two footed, a creative force who works incredibly hard, and well down the right hand side with Francis. You'll want to watch that. Stop that axis and you'll stop a lot of what we do well.
SMM: If you could sell any Bournemouth player from your regular starting XI, who would it be and why?
PH: As of now, I'd say Josh King, who is playing regularly. He's not really convinced since coming in from Blackburn and even with our limited options, he's not done enough. At full strength, our team is so strong and a team that is a sum of its parts. No one man makes the team complete and that is our greatest strength.
SMM: If you could sign any Saints player, who would it be and why?
PH: Sadio Mane. His improvement in the last few months has been ridiculous. He ran the show against Chelsea and made them look silly. Pace, especially direct at the opposition like he does it, is something that is a bit of a dying art. At a time of players who love to cut back and inside and are told to pass the ball and not take risks, Mane is a breath of fresh air. We have a winger like that in Gradel, but surprise surprise, he's out with an ACL injury, as is half the population of Bournemouth.
SMM: Finally, what do you think the result will be on Sunday evening?
PH: I'm more confident after Wednesday, having seen how good Arter looked and how much he helped us already. His high tempo press took the team with him and we'll need to do that Sunday. We can't let you get settled on the ball and we don't do well when sitting back. It's just not our natural game and we suffer when we try to do it.
Having said all that, and mentioned the positives, including a few players who were rested in midweek, it will be tough and I just don't see quite enough in us to win unless we get you on an off-day. I'll go for a 2-0, but if the conditions are right, and we are capable, that could easily be a draw, or perhaps a Bournemouth win! I know I have really sat on the fence here, but in general, we tend to come back fighting when we get on an iffy run. We'll really need that spirit as ideally, with the run we have to come at the end of this year, we need to secure at least three points from our next two televised games.