Bournemouth fans, affiliates, generally interested parties. Let us begin with a confession.
This is a piece beset by hypotheticals. After all, you are hypothesising over a country’s fortunes (Zimbabwe) in a continental competition, and the finer nuanced decisions of a manager (Scott Parker) – both of which are impossible to know.
Plainly, we do not know how successful Zimbabwe will be, nor will we know how Parker will replace Jordan Zemura, whether that be through personnel, shape or overarching methods.
But there is one thing we do know. Jordan Zemura will be a significant miss for Bournemouth. He may become unavailable soon after the QPR game, in which case means he might not be back until January 25, or January 20 at the earliest. An early prediction would state Zemura will be absent for five games in total (including Yeovil in the FA Cup).
With that being said, DorsetLive has decided to take a look at how Parker and his coaching cohort can plug the pretty obvious hole beginning in just over a week.
Let us start off simple. Zemura out, Leif Davis or Robbie Brady in.
Two players who can play at left back and understand their remits well. While neither are likely to be as impactful going forward as Zemura, they know how to play in a back four and the distinctive tasks they are required to do, both in and out of possession.
This, in turn, will enable Parker to stick with his favoured 4-3-3 (please note the first number as of the most importance) and avoid disrupting the overall balance of the team.
Question marks remain over Davis, however, as evidence has suggested Parker opts for other options before turning to the Leeds loanee. It is highly unlikely he stays beyond his season-long loan and although certainly unsubstantiated, murmurs that he may return to his parent club in January perhaps underline how his development is currently going in Dorset.
Meanwhile, over the last few months Brady has been coached to understand the requisites in the left back role and now has a greater grasp of what Parker expects than he did previously. Having started one game there already, the Cherries boss will expect an improvement. As they say, repetition breeds familiarity.
Option B: Moonlight someone else
Before the pitch forks come out, I’m not exactly saying Chris Mepham. Though, he might not be too bad an option there. Akin to what he did against Birmingham in August, he can become a quasi-centre back when Bournemouth have possession, turning the 4-3-3 into a 3-4-2-1 shape (Jaidon Anthony wing back, Ryan Christie and Philip Billing number 10s).
And who knows, this may end up proving beneficial in breaking a low block team down from the outset, rather than just scrambling to this shape when they’re a goal down with 15 minutes to go.
Or, which I sense may be the more favourable to you, ask Lloyd Kelly to take off the captain’s armband, give it to a returning Steve Cook and smile at him until he agrees to shift across to left back. Kelly, with greater attacking output than Mepham, can offer Parker either a three at the back structure or if he’s feeling dangerous, become the archetypal left back.
Option C: Just don’t play one (a left back)
Slightly more nuanced to option B. Whereas the second choice provided the pretence of a left back, this one cuts no false promises.
Quite simply, tell Jaidon Anthony to stay wide at all times, mark the furthest opposition player at that side (be honest, most teams play with wing backs these days, anyway) and play a centre back trio, tasked with covering what was Zemura’s side. Better still, if they can get Billing or the all-action man Jefferson Lerma making recovery runs into that channel.
But make no bones about it, Anthony’s job is still to provide the same offensive role as he would a winger.