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Eddie Howe: Miracle Man

March 30, 2010

Eddie Howe: Bright face, bright future

Some people say that the Chelsea job is the hardest in Football. Some claim that Fabio Capello has the toughest role of any manager in the world. Clearly those people have never been in Eddie Howe’s position, or have any idea of what the AFC Bournemouth boss has achieved in the last 12 months.

Last year I wrote a piece on the trials and tribulations of Bournemouth Football Club in an attempt to raise awareness for the then struggling League 2 outfit, and educate people on what going into administration may mean for a lower league club. I like to think that to some extent I achieved exactly that, but in no means am I taking any credit for the unbelievable turnaround that has taken place at the Fitness First Stadium over the last 2 years.

Eddie Howe’s playing career was unfortunately cut short due to a knee injury that he failed to recover from, but he was immediately offered the role of player/coach by former manager Kevin Bond (now sitting alongside Harry Redknapp in the Tottenham Hotspur dugout). Despite losing his job at the same time Bond was sacked, Bond’s successor Jimmy Quinn reinstalled Howe as assistant manager, before he was appointed caretaker manager, and then manager after Quinn’s dismissal. At the start of the 2009/10 season, Howe won 8 out of the first 9 games, a club record, and as a result gained interest from Championship side Peterborough United. Howe turned down the move to Cambridgeshire, much to the joy of the Cherries’ fans.

However, forget being offered the manager’s position at a Championship club. The greatest achievement of Eddie Howe’s short, blossoming managerial career has undoubtedly been the remarkable rise from the doldrums of the Football League over the last 24 months or so. Before the 2008/09 season even started, Bournemouth were handed a huge disadvantage, one which many people thought was impossible to overcome. The Football League docked Bournemouth 17 points for entering administration and failing to follow the league’s insolvency rules. Kevin Bond and Jimmy Quinn came and went within 5 months, and it was down to the blonde bombshell Howe to lift his beloved Bournemouth out of the mire.

Despite not being able to purchase any new players during the 2009 January transfer window due to an enforced transfer embargo, and having to deal with the smallest squad in the Football League, Howe pulled off the greatest of great escapes and managed to preserve Bournemouth’s status as a Football League club. One may wonder if it could get any better for the south coast side after this, and the answer would be yes.

Bournemouth currently occupy 3rd place in League 2, 11 points behind league leaders Rochdale, but firmly in amongst the forerunners for the 2nd and 3rd automatic promotion slots. An amazing achievement considering the diabolic financial events of the previous season, made all the more remarkable by the size of the squad. For the majority of Bournemouth’s games this season Howe has been forced to name 42-year-old assistant manager Jason Tindall and schoolboy Jayden Stockley on the bench. The severity of the matter was made even more farcical during a recent away trip to promotion hopefuls Shrewsbury Town. With Jeff Goulding the only pro on the bench, and with Jason Tindall unable to play much of a part in the game due to a lack of match fitness, Bournemouth had to call upon Stockley to make a contribution. However, the teenager turned up at the ground 20 minutes after kick off having been driven all the way from Bournemouth, and didn’t even have his match shirt with him. Shrewsbury went on to win the game 1-0.

Words can’t do Eddie Howe justice, but they can go some way to explaining the miraculous job he’s done for Bournemouth. Should they gain promotion to League 1, there’s no doubt that bigger opportunities will come calling for one of England’s most promising managers. Having already turned down Peterborough United, all eyes will be on the local hero to see whether he’ll stay loyal to his hometown club, or seek bigger fortunes elsewhere. And who could blame him if he did. You can’t argue that he deserves it.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Maserati4200 permalink
    March 31, 2010 3:46 pm

    I met a director of a Midlands-based League club a few weeks ago. He told me that Eddie Howe deserves a medal and should be awarded the overall Manager of the Year – “forget the PL, Championship and all the rest – Eddie Howe deserves all the praise”.


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