Eddie Howe – England’s most wanted?

The January transfer window usually brings a lot of speculation, who is going to sign the biggest players, who is going to splash millions on foreign superstars. However, the biggest battle this time around is for a 33-year-old in League One – Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.

Despite his young age, Howe has been linked with a number of managerial positions across the leagues. I think it is fair to say that he does deserve to be mentioned when vacancies come up, considering the fantastic job he has done at Bournemouth. But where did it all begin for ‘Howe-dini’?

A Bournemouth legend, Howe made over 200 appearances between 1994 and 2002 before moving to Portsmouth for £400,000. However, a knee injury ruled him out for the remainder of the 2001/02 season. After working hard to get back to full fitness, he found himself back in the team for the start of the 2002/03 season – but was to suffer the same fate and another knee injury meant he missed Portsmouth’s promotion-winning season under Harry Redknapp.

Finally returning to fitness in 2004, midway through Pompey’s Premiership season, he was loaned out to Swindon – but failed to make an appearance for them.

Back to Bournemouth

However, things got better for Howe when he returned to Bournemouth on loan for the start of the 2004/05 season. He was so impressive that he joined on a free transfer in November 2004 and established himself in the first team once more.

He was made a player-coach by then-manager Kevin Bond in December 2006 and given the task of managing the reserve team. However, he was forced to end his playing career in the summer of 2007 due to his persistent knee injury. He continued to work alongside Bond, but they could not save Bournemouth from dropping into League Two in 2008.

With the club facing a 17-point deduction, Bond was sacked as manager in September 2008, and Howe also left the club. But, his time away was short and he returned as a youth coach under caretaker manager Jimmy Quinn. When Quinn lost his job in December 2008, Howe was placed in temporary charge and, despite losing both games, he was handed the permanent position at the start of 2009.

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Howe revelled in the job and managed to save Bournemouth from relegation from the Football League, despite their points deduction. Many looked at Howe as the savior of Bournemouth, as relegation would have meant disaster and more financial troubles for the club.

Promotion push

The start of the 2009/10 season started brilliantly for the club, as Howe led his team to eight wins from their first nine games. His work didn’t go unnoticed and Championship side Peterborough, who had just sacked Darren Ferguson, enquired about his services. Howe decided to stay Dean Court and, despite a transfer embargo, led his side to a second-placed finish and promotion to League One.

This season has gotten better and better for Howe and his side. Despite many people predicting them to struggle, especially due to the departure of top scorer Brett Pitman, Bournemouth continued to flourish. Impressive results against Peterborough (5-1), Exeter (3-2) and most recently away at Swindon (2-1) have helped propel the club to second in the league.

Again, it was hard not to take notice of such a young manager doing great things at a club which had been expected to be fighting relegation, not battling for promotion. In the last few days, several clubs have been enquiring about taking Howe away from Dean Court.

Interest from elsewhere

First, fellow League One side Charlton offered Howe the chance to replace Phil Parkinson – an offer that he turned down. Then, on the same day, Championship side Crystal Palace said they though he was the man to help steer them away from relegation. Again, Howe insisted he wanted to remain at Bournemouth and continue with their promotion push.

However, another Championship side in the form of Burnley approached Howe. Reports in the media suggest that this could be the move to tempt Howe away from his much-loved Bournemouth side. The attraction is clear to see – a solid team, financially backed and in the middle of a promotion push.

It would be a shame to see Howe leave Bournemouth in the middle of a season, as it would be interesting to see how far he could take them. Then again, one has to look at Darren Ferguson at Peterborough – who he led to back-to-back promotions before being sacked just a couple of months into the Championship season.

Nobody would judge Howe if he did take the job, I think that is clear. Bournemouth have so much to thank ‘Howe-dini’ for, but he would be a very tough person to replace – much like Ferguson at Peterborough, who had four different people in charge before Ferguson rejoined little over a year later.

If Howe goes, I really would feel sorry for the Bournemouth fans. To watch such a talented homegrown manager, or player, leave is never easy. As a Wolves fan, I’ve had to watch homegrown Lescott and Keane move on to bigger and better things.

Then again I suppose it’s like any career, if a better job opportunity comes up, you would be daft not to take it.
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