Premier League • England

Under-pressure Bournemouth man tipped to replace Liverpool cult hero amid sack rumours

Bournemouth defender Lloyd Kelly and head coach Andoni Iraola

Bournemouth defender Lloyd Kelly and head coach Andoni Iraola

Andoni Iraola may be in danger of losing his job as the head coach of AFC Bournemouth, but he could quickly bounce back with another appointment, according to reports.

It was a bold decision by Bournemouth to replace Gary O’Neil with Iraola over the summer, and the Spaniard has subsequently failed to win any of his first nine matches as a Premier League manager, despite his positive work before with Rayo Vallecano in Spain.

Iraola now has to motivate his troops for Bournemouth’s clash with Burnley on Saturday, knowing he is already at risk of being sacked by the Cherries just a few months into his tenure.

According to Estadio Deportivo, though, if the worst happens and Iraola does lose his job, he could soon land in another. Indeed, he is being monitored by Celta de Vigo in case they dismiss Rafael Benitez, it is claimed.

Benitez took the Celta job over the summer after his brief spell with Everton, which had been controversial due to his past association with Liverpool. Benitez became an Anfield icon thanks to lifting the Champions League trophy in 2005 with the club.

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Taking the Celta job allowed him to return to management in his native country for the first time since the 2015-16 season, when he was in charge of Real Madrid for the first half of the campaign.

Now, Benitez’s Celta side are in the relegation zone of La Liga after 10 games. The report claims the club have long admired Iraola and may take their opportunity to pick him up if he becomes available.

A former Athletic Club and New York City defender, Iraola’s managerial career has included spells with AEK Larnaca, Mirandes, Rayo Vallecano and Bournemouth. At the age of 41, he is still developing as a coach.

Benitez, in contrast, has much more experience, but it has not really benefited Celta yet, which is why they themselves may be considering a change in the dugout.

As for Bournemouth, what direction they would go in after Iraola remains to be seen.