Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has played down Benik Afobe’s heated exchange with his former club Wolves, insisting he has no problem with the striker’s attitude.
Afobe, who joined the Cherries on a four-and-a-half-year deal from Wolves last month and has already scored three goals for his new side, took to Twitter on Thursday to label criticism from senior figures at his previous club “shocking and very hurtful”.
Wolves head of recruitment Kevin Thirlwell accused Afobe of not trying and chief executive Jez Moxey claimed he did not want to play for the club, despite the fact the player scored 22 goals – including 10 in the first half of this season – in 46 Championship appearances during his year with the Molineux club.
Afobe added: “Some people at Wolves are hanging me out to dry to save their own backs but I won’t let my reputation be tarnished.”
Howe, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League game against Stoke, said he was not concerned about the row, and was pleased with how the player had settled in.
“I think from our perspective we are only concerned about the future and not the past,” the 38-year-old said.
“I think what happened with Wolves is really their relationship – I don’t think it has anything to do with us.
“When signing Benik, I think we acted in the right way and we are delighted to get the player – and he has started very well for us.
“With Benik I would rather talk about how well he has done and the future and I think Benik is the same.”
He added: “I have no problem with Benik’s attitude. You can only react with people as you see fit.
“You cannot look back. He has come in, he has a really good work ethic, a really good temperament to the games and I have to say there are positive signs for the future.”
The Cherries on Saturday face a Stoke side who have lost their last three Premier League games, but Howe does not believe that will make them any easier to beat.
“I just think it is the Premier League,” he said. “Watching their games, there has been very little between them and the other sides but they have had a couple of disappointing results.
“They have got very dangerous individuals that we need to be aware of. They have quality in their team, so we expect a very difficult test.
“I think (Stoke manager Mark Hughes) has done a really good job when you consider he has changed their way of playing and that is a very difficult thing to do and get results, so I think he deserves a lot of credit for the job he has done. The players he has recruited, he has made them very strong.”
Forward Max Gradel – out since August with a knee injury – resumed training with the Cherries this week, but Howe acknowledged the former Leeds and St Etienne forward still had a way to go before a first-team return.
“He is back and it has been really good to see Max,” the Bournemouth boss said. “He has been away intermittently and to have a character like him back in the dressing room has been really good because he is infectious.
“In terms of the injury, we should not get ahead of ourselves. He still has a way to go before he is available to play. He has not kicked a ball in training yet so there is still a road for him to overcome before he is available.”