You hear people say these days that there are no good English managers around. They are wrong.
Thirty-seven-year-old Eddie Howe is a future England manager, or at least will get the opportunity to manage top Premier League side if the FA are too ignorant to take him.
Howe has an outstanding resume for one so young in management, centred around taking AFC Bournemouth from League Two into the Premier League if they can gain promotion this season. Howe’s philosophy reflects his career as an atypical English centre-half, who liked to bring the ball out from the back and caress it.
After a successful playing career he has been sensational as a manager at Bournemouth. Howe began by keeping the Cherries in the Football League, overturning a 17-point deficit in just six months – not a bad start to management. The Cherries suddenly had momentum, and carried this into the following season, where they gained automatic promotion into League One.
One argument levelled at Howe is that he has not achieved success outside of Bournemouth, after an indifferent 18 month stint at then-Championship side Burnley. Moreover, he has turned down various higher-division jobs. Factually, both these things are true. Using these ideas to denigrate Howe as a manager is disgraceful.
Howe’s Bournemouth side now have every chance of gaining automatic promotion to the Premier League, completing a remarkable rise from scrambling to stay in the Football League that has vindicated his loyalty to the club.
Since returning from Burnley Howe has continued his outstanding work, defying a transfer embargo for much of the season to finish runners-up in League One. The Cherries comfortably found mid-table in the Championship to continue their brilliant rise, with Howe leading them to their highest ever finish last season.
In the summer of 2014 Howe lost his leading goalscorer Lewis Grabban to Norwich for £3million, resulting in many touting his side as relegation candidates. However, Howe found an excellent replacement in Callum Wilson and has built a team that, on a fraction of the budget of other promotion contenders, is leading the race currently.
The Cherries are top over halfway through the season, and have just completed a 14 match unbeaten run before losing at home to Norwich last Saturday in the Championship. In one of the most competitive leagues in the world, which also faces eight more fixtures than top-flight sides do across the season, such a run is outstanding. The style of football Howe plays, in addition to his outstanding record, makes him an atypical English manager and perfectly suited for the top jobs one day.
Whilst British managers are often criticised for outdated tactics and direct football, Howe is a truly modern manager. He has consistently produced AFC Bournemouth teams that are confident and capable in possession from front to back, but with a movement and impetus that strikes fear into opposition hearts.
Howe seeks to develop tactical awareness in players, and understanding regarding playing ‘in between the lines.’ After Bournemouth were defeated by Liverpool in the FA Cup earlier this month, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers notably praised Howe’s philosophy as a manager.
“When you have a team that want to play football they are the most courageous players on the field,” said Rodgers.
“It is coaches like Eddie Howe who will take the game forward in this country because they believe in a way of working and they have a philosophy.”
Howe certainly does, and it should help eventually take him to the very top, and nobody will be more deserving of the opportunity.