January will be a massive month for Bournemouth given the Cherries will need to strengthen, especailly if they're embroiled in a relegation battle.
If Eddie Howe's side hadn’t scored a late winner against Newcastle United last weekend, they would be sitting in the relegation zone, below the likes of West Ham United, who decided their league position was too precarious and fired Slaven Bilić this week.
But the biggest fear for Bournemouth fans may be that they don’t show any invention in their January recruitment.
For too often now, the Cherries’ signings have been predictable and one-dimensional.
Bournemouth's summer recruits were entirely in line with most of the players brought in since the club were promoted to the Premier League; Nathan Aké and Asmir Begović arrived from Chelsea and Jermain Defoe joined from Sunderland.
While it may have been clever for the South Coast club to do their business early, it demonstrated a lack of invention in the transfer market that has plagued them since they arrived in the Premier League.
Lack of worldly knowledge
Since Bournemouth were promoted, only two players have arrived permanently from outside of England. Max Gradel joined from Saint-Étienne in August 2015 and Lys Mousset from Le Havre in July 2016.
Sixteen other players have been signed, all from other clubs in England. So what came of the duo brought in from abroad?
Gradel made 25 Premier League appearances before joining Toulouse on loan in the summer. Mousset, meanwhile, remains at the club but has played just 775 minutes of first-team football in England.
While they may have come in 23 different matches, it averages out to fewer than nine 90-minute games.
Mousset is yet to score in those appearances and it’s clear he isn’t yet trusted at the Vitality Stadium.
Bournemouth’s budget isn’t the biggest in the Premier League and while they definitely have money – handing an estimated £100k-a-week three-year deal to 34-year-old Defoe isn’t the wisest move.
The former Sunderland striker has yet to score this season and there must be fears over this summer’s recruitment. West Ham also went down the Bournemouth route – buying proven players from England – and they’re in real trouble too.
Pascal Groß, signed for just £3million from Ingolstadt has been one of the revolutions of the season, while Richarlison, who arrived at Vicarage Road for around £11million from Fluminense, already has four Premier League goals and is tearing defences apart.
Time for a change of the recruitment system?
Last season’s recruitment saw Bournemouth bring in Mousset, Benik Afobe, Jordon Ibe, Lewis Cook and Brad Smith for more than £35million. Yet they registered just 37 Premier League starts combined. That has to be a worry.
It is rare nowadays that a manager has a much say as Howe does in transfers, but perhaps it’s time for a change.
Of course, few Premier League managers can say they’ve seen it all at their club as Howe can done – from being a novice coach, he’s taken his boyhood club from League Two to arguably the biggest league in the world.
He himself admits he is still surprised by the turnaround. “When I look back to the League Two days, they couldn’t have been bleaker for the club. ”
But while what Howe has achieved is undoubtedly an incredible achievement, the stakes have changed too.
In League Two, the Cherries were signing players from non-league clubs, this summer it was from the Premier League champions. It’s a completely different level to what Howe has faced over the years.
And while the recruitment department has more than doubled in size since promotion to the top flight, perhaps it could go even further to help the club properly compete with their Premier League rivals.
With Andy Howe, Eddie’s nephew, leading the domestic division of scouting, and other members of the team including former Sky Sports reporter Andy Burton, you would suggest they aren’t making the most of the European market. And that's despite them having personnel designated to focus on France, Germany and Spain.
So far, only the French department seems to have any success in recommending players Howe would want to sign – it’s the Bournemouth boss who has the final say on transfers, despite former Cherries player Richard Hughes heading up the department.
Their transfer record is far from perfect. For every success story like Matt Ritchie and Joshua King, there’s a Mousset, a Lee Tomlin or a Glenn Murray who just don’t or didn't work out at Bournemouth.
Murray and Tomlin were unable to fit in with Howe’s style – they felt like good British players being given a chance rather than being what the team needed.
Perhaps what’s required is either a director of football or chief scout – neither of those roles currently exist at Bournemouth – who can come in and open doors to the European market and help Howe focus on what he does best, coaching the players.
Buying from abroad will not only be cheaper than purchasing from the overinflated Premier League – there are still bargains across Europe as Groß proved – but a few decent additions could really complement the British core of Howe’s Cherries squad.