IN one corner a side that until 18 months ago had spent a glorious decade basking in the riches of the Premier League, in the other a new kid on the Championship block who had spent that time tottering between the third and fourth tier.
The situations facing Bolton Wanderers and Bournemouth could hardly be more different.
Wanderers, facing a battle to curb costs and rid themselves of the excesses incurred in the top flight, are underperforming vastly on pre-season predictions they would be in the promotion picture.
Eddie Howe’s Cherries, by comparison, have adapted well after returning to this level for the first time in 23 seasons – and thanks to new funding from owner Maxim Demin, have also been able to spend significantly in an effort to avoid an immediate return to League One.
On January transfer deadline day Dougie Freedman was scrabbling round to fund the incoming transfer of Liam Trotter by loaning out a first teamer in Craig Davies.
No further cash was made available to the Whites boss to bring in defensive or attacking reinforcements – this despite the squad’s biggest earner in Frenchman David Ngog also leaving for Swansea.
It was a different story on the south coast, where Howe brought in three permanent deals, including £650,000 worth of investment in young Spurs full-back and Charlton’s experienced attacker Yann Kermorgant.
Lee Camp, the former Derby and Nottingham Forest keeper, was also signed on a two-and-a-half year deal after a successful loan spell from West Brom.
Dougie Freedman had already cast a couple of envious glances Bournemouth’s way when the two sides met in November, with the Scot revealing on the eve of the game at the Goldsands Stadium that he had been keen to sign striker Tokelo Rantie before Howe made him the Cherries’ record purchase at £2.5million.
“We looked at the boy Rantie on a few occasions but the money that was quoted at the time was amazing,” he said. “When you have got that sort of player in your team then you’ve got a chance.”
The South African could make way tomorrow for Kermorgant, who has scored in each of his last two games against Bolton for his former club Charlton.
But the mood of optimism around Bournemouth was summed up this week by newcomer Camp, who believes the club are now shaping a squad that will cement their Championship status this season.
“I’m sure the manager has worked very hard to get players in,” he said. “Obviously the club is backed by a very wealthy owner and he is very supportive I believe towards the manager and very helpful in terms of financial backing.
“Considering the financial regulations that are coming into play and that there is fair play rules going on, to make three permanent signings is a positive thing for the football club.
“You have to admire the man for putting his money in and the manager for identifying the players.”