Scott Parker won the former England midfielder’s fight as his newly-appointed Bournemouth team enjoyed a dream Premier League comeback with Steven Gerrard’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
Jefferson Lerma and Kiefer Moore on either side of half-time gave the Cherries a deserved win at Vitality Stadium.
Gerrard, who played alongside Parker at Euro 2012, spent most of the afternoon cut down in dismay and there was little left to consider on the trip home.
His expensive-gather team was in possession in the south-coast sun, but was toothless in the attack.
Bournemouth – with Ireland’s Mark Travers in the goal – were playing their 191st match at this level and were serving longtime former manager Eddie Howe in the dugout.
Frustrated by the lack of summer transfer activity following promotion as championship runners-up, current boss Parker claimed last week that his side was “less than where we should be”.
Yet he soon had reason for more optimism as new signing Marcus Tavernier, one of four top-flight debutants, contributed in his second-minute opener.
Colombia international Lerma claimed the goal after the visitors made a mess in clearing the right wing corner of Tavernier, vigorously hitting home a deflected, left-footed drive from close range.
Villa escaped relegation at Bournemouth’s expense in 2020 and also won their opponents’ first Premier League match at this ground in 2015.
With a pre-season goal finishing in the top-half, Gerrard handed debuts to Dorset summer recruits Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara, while former Cherry defender Tyrone Mings, who was dropped from Villa captaincy during the summer, was handed Had to settle for a spot. On the bench with fellow England international Ollie Watkins and fit-again Emiliano Bendia.
The away side monopolized the ball for most of the afternoon, open periods frantic and, at times, teasy.
Bournemouth’s insistence on playing from behind led to some nervous moments for home support, and former Cherry striker Danny Ings and midfielder Jacob Ramsey threatened an equalizer by testing Mark Travers.
At the other end, Dominic Solanki and Adam Smith went close to extending the home team’s advantage.
Gerrard responded to the lack of half-time by introducing Buendia in place of Ramsey, one of four players booked before the break by referee Peter Banks.
Bournemouth began to fall deeply after the restart, inviting pressure and looking for a breakaway second.
Yet Cherry’s three Lermas, Chris Mepham and Lloyd Kelly remained rock solid and were relatively untested.
Villa’s new France international Kamara provided a rare worrying moment with a plunge drive from the distance, with Travers running across the stretch and wide before Watkins was sent off in place of Ings.
There is more pressure on Gerrard to deliver consistent results at Villa Park after this campaign as up and down since coming from Rangers in November and his changes had little effect.
Substitute Buendia showed flashes of inspiration before hopes of saving the draw were extinguished by 10 minutes’ time when giant striker Moore nodded ahead of Emiliano Martinez after a cross from captain Kelly.
With Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool arriving in the next three weeks, Parker will undoubtedly be happy to make a winning start as he quickly turns his attention back to the transfer market.