The achievements of AFC Bournemouth and manager Eddie Howe cannot be downplayed. The dynamism of a young but now battle-tested manager was the single driving force in securing three promotions for a historically small club on England’s south coast.
Irrespective of what happens in the Premier League next season with Bournemouth, Howe has to be considered a future candidate for the England manager job. He’s known for his meticulous planning of each training session and his copious note-taking and diary maintenance. This attention to detail has made the 37 year-old arguably the best current English-born professional manager and has been critical in securing the three promotions for the Cherries.
The club was like so many on the south coast, a financial basket case just six years ago. Creditors were circling and Howe was appointed manager at age 31, after playing over 250 matches for the club. The young manager secured Football League status in the 2008/09 season by leading a “great escape” that culminated in beating Grimsby Town. When Howe took over the manager’s job at the club on December 31, 2008, the Cherries were ten points from safety and appeared to be headed out of the Football League in England.
Miraculously, Howe kept the club up. And then during the next season, he led Bournemouth to promotion to League One. The man was suddenly a hot commodity in coaching ranks. A sojourn at Burnley who were chasing promotion back to the Premier League in the second half of the 2010-11 season didn’t work out and by the fall of 2012 Howe was back at Bournemouth.
Once Howe returned to the club in the 2012-13 season, Bournemouth started flying again, automatically achieving promotion to the Championship despite the club having the smallest ground in the division and little money to spend. Yet, Howe was incredibly successful in keeping most of his team’s core together and guiding the club to a safe tenth-place finish.
This season, using some very useful loan players, such as Artur Boruc, to build upon the core of the side, Howe has kept the Cherries at or near the top of the Championship table the entire season. Barring an epic meltdown in the final matchday of the season coupled with a lopsided Middlesbrough win, Bournemouth will be playing Premier League football next season.
For Howe, who has spent close to two decades at the club in one capacity or another, the sky appears to be the limit. With England manager Roy Hodgson sure to retire soon, Howe seems a likely replacement. In Howe, England would have a young manager with a remarkable pedigree in the game. After all, the Bournemouth manager has already been decorated as the Football League’s “Manager of the Decade.”
With England badly needing a shot of life and a youthful outlook, and Howe’s painstaking planning and attention to detail, it could be a marriage made in heaven at some point in the future.
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