The Monday Profile: Brett Pitman
Bournemouth’s demolition of Peterborough on Saturday was, for many, the surprise result of the weekend. Certainly this website did not predict that the Cherries would so comfortably outplay a side that was two divisions above them last season. Prior to the game, all attention was on Peterborough’s celebrated attacking trio of George Boyd, Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron McLean, who looked set to cause as much damage to League 1 defences as they did during Posh’s title-winning 2008/9 season. Comfortable victories in their first two games, together with two defeats for Bournemouth, made this game appear one of the safest away bets of the weekend.
As we now know, nothing could have been further from the truth. Bournemouth utterly outplayed Peterborough from start to finish, and were full value for their 5-1 win. Peterborough boss Gary Johnson bemoaned his side’s display, branding it ‘pathetic’ and ‘embarrassing’. Whilst perennially understated Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe made all the right noises, talking about ‘not getting carried away’ with the victory at such an early stage of the season, he must have been thrilled to see how his side tore apart their much-fancied opponents.
At the centre of everything the Cherries did well was 22-year-old striker Brett Pitman. A 15-minute hat trick signalled his intent to continue his rich goalscoring form of 2009/10 at the higher level and has helped to increase further his already budding reputation as one of the most dangerous strikers in the Football League. 17 goals in 2008/9 helped Bournemouth survive relegation to the Conference after their 17-point penalty, whilst his 26 goals last season were a major factor in the Dean Court club’s successful promotion campaign. His exploits have not gone unnoticed, with his club rumoured to have rejected an £800,000 bid from the Posh last season. Other clubs, including Cardiff and Premiership new-boys Blackpool are also apparently interested.
Pitman is an interesting character not just for his recent goal exploits. Hailing from Jesey, he, unlike many footballers his age, was not associated with a professional club as a schoolboy and was instead spotted playing for local side St Paul’s as a 16-year-old. Initially struggling to cement a place in the team, Pitman did not become a regular until Bournemouth’s much-publicised financial difficulties caused several key players to leave as the club fought to stay in the Football League in 2008/9. Recognising Pitman was very much a confidence player who got easily frustrated when things were not going his way, new manager Eddie Howe took a personal interest in nurturing the young striker. His reward has been an increasingly consistent Pitman over the last 18 months and a reduction in the petulant side of his game, which had previously seen him collect a number of unnecessary red cards earlier in his career.
The past two seasons have seen Pitman transformed from enigmatic promising talent to established goalscorer. Now 22, Pitman is no longer a callow youth, and, helped by the guidance of old head Steve Fletcher, has assumed the mantle of Bournemouth’s main man comfortably. Comparisons will no doubt continue to be made with legendary Channel Islander Matt Le Tissier, and Pitman has made no secret of his ambition to reach the heights of the former Southampton showman. Despite repeatedly committing his future to Dean Court, there will surely come a time soon where both Pitman and his club’s resolve is severely tested by a big offer from higher up. One suspects that whether Pitman opts to take the leap to potentially less forgiving waters or whether he chooses to continue to develop under the watchful eyes of Howe and Fletcher at the club where he is adored will be key to Bournemouth’s prospects over the next few years. For now, though, League 1 defences ought to be very afraid indeed.