Gary O’Neil expressed that he refrained from celebrating either of his Wolves’ team’s goals against Cherries as a mark of respect for his former club. In the second half, goals from Matheus Cunha and Sasa Kalajdzic overturned Cherries’ lead, established by Dominic Solanke’s 17th-minute opener.
Throughout both goal moments, O’Neil maintained a composed demeanor on the sideline, despite being greeted enthusiastically by the Wolves’ bench after Kalajdzic’s match-winning goal.
O’Neil, who was dismissed in June after successfully keeping Cherries in the league last season, had a 10-month stint as a manager at Vitality Stadium, which marked his debut in a managerial role. When asked about his reaction to the goals, O’Neil stated to the Daily Echo, “I haven’t celebrated often when my team scores. I believe I celebrated Philip Billing’s goal at Nottingham Forest last year, which was the first we scored. I don’t celebrate too frequently, and I thought it was the appropriate choice today. There were still many moments to play.”
He expressed his appreciation for the support from the fans and shared, “I enjoyed the backing of our fans today, went and thanked them at the end. I thought they were excellent. They stuck with us and they can see what we’re trying to do. So yeah, just a game that we managed to win. I enjoyed it with the players, enjoyed it with the away fans, and we move on to Newcastle.”
Regarding his return to Vitality Stadium, O’Neil described it as a “peculiar experience” and emphasized, “Honestly, I feel no different to when we beat Manchester City, when we beat Everton. Feels exactly the same. I’ve huge respect for everybody at AFC Bournemouth. They gave me an opportunity to manage a Premier League football team. Thankfully I managed to go six unbeaten straight away, which got me on a decent run. But there’s nothing in it for me. It’s not that at all. Funny experience coming back, funny experience being sat at this desk again. But, I just enjoyed our performance, really. Nothing else.”
Discussing the overall game, O’Neil reflected, “I think being 1-0 down at halftime was tough on them. I thought we were the better side throughout, really. I thought we had good control. Bournemouth were exactly what we expected. So pictures were familiar to the lads, to what we’d worked on the last couple of days. Everything we thought would be on, was on. We managed to find a 10 between the lines and attack the backline really well a few times, and to be 1-0 down I thought was harsh.”