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Dreaming of Europe?

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[BBC]

It never hurts to do well when the big boss is watching. Bournemouth have a good record when Bill Foley is in town, and the Las Vegas-based owner chose well after flying in for the Cherries’ back-to-back home wins over Everton and Crystal Palace.

And while Foley was mixing with the fans in a local pub, buying drinks and answering questions, his manager Andoni Iraola was sheepishly batting away reporters’ questions about whether his side could make an unfathomable late charge for European qualification.

While their eight remaining opponents include three of the top six, a run of 13 points from a possible 15 since the beginning of March has not been bettered by any other Premier League side, and has very much left everyone looking up, rather than down.

Faced with two games in 72 hours, and several players struggling with illness, Iraola made five changes for Palace, and sprung a surprise by starting with midfielder Lewis Cook in central defence with a specific role to shadow the dangerous Eberechi Eze.

But he was not afraid to change it up – with a half-time substitution made for the fifth time in the past six games. Iraola seems to have the knack of game-changing substitutions, and was rewarded once again as replacements Antoine Semenyo and Justin Kluivert combined for the only goal – the 12th time in all competitions this season that a Bournemouth substitute has netted.

And there is no sign that they are taking their foot off the gas as they did somewhat for the last four games of last season with safety assured.

The Cherries have already exceeded last term’s points tally of 39, and their Premier League record of 46 (from 2016-17, when they finished ninth) is very much in their sights.

And whether a dream of Europe is too fanciful, in a time when clubs are anxiously checking for compliance with profit and sustainability rules, every position in the table is worth over £2m and would make a huge difference to a club of Bournemouth’s size.

Safe to say, if a top-half finish is achieved, Foley will be more than happy to get another round in on his next visit to the pub.