CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe insisted he was not concerned by a lack of new recruits and said: “The easiest thing in football is to spend money.”

The Dorset club did not shell out a penny on players during last month’s transfer window, despite top-flight expenditure increasing 77 per cent on the previous winter.

Former England international Paul Merson graded Cherries with an F for their January transfer dealings, the lowest mark of any team.

The Sky pundit said: “You can't really give them a mark because they haven't brought anybody in. What grade can you give to the kid who doesn't turn up at school?

“I'll have to give them an F because they are in a relegation battle and they should do business. I like Eddie Howe but I think he's very loyal.”

Quizzed on his side’s grading ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Stoke City (3pm), Howe told the Daily Echo: “I think that is the reality of the world we are in. You will get graded or marked on situations where people will not know how your club is working.

“Let me tell you, the easiest thing in football is to spend money – it’s the easiest thing in the world.

“You can buy anyone you want or pay any fee you want but the most important thing is to make the team work. If your team works well, at the end of the season that is all that matters.

“My job now is to focus on the players I have here and try to get them to play as well as I can. If we do that, as we showed against Chelsea, we will be fine.”

Cherries were active during the summer window, breaking their club-record fee to sign defender Nathan Ake from Chelsea for £20million.

Howe also brought in Asmir Begovic, Jermain Defoe and Connor Mahoney.

Asked if he felt there was pressure for clubs to panic buy in January, he said: “I think there is very much an expectation from everybody. The media creates an expectation that you should be active and you should be buying and recruiting.

“Don’t get me wrong, of course I want to work with the best players possible to take this team to the next level.

“But you have to work under the guidelines the club sets you. I have no problem doing that, I think that’s my job. I am more than happy with the squad I have.”

Howe added: “I think it’s very important Bournemouth fans don’t think I was sitting on my hands doing nothing and not wanting to improve the team.

“This is always a very difficult window for the club and for me. To identify players is always difficult with the resources we have.

“The level of money we would need to improve the squad would be substantial. To find better players than we have, I think you are looking at big money.”