Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth currently sit top of the Sky Bet Championship, after performing even more heroics on Saturday with a 5-3 win over Cardiff City at the Goldsands Stadium. Can Bournemouth’s 37-year-old boss, who is in his second spell with the club, take the Cherries into the dizzy heights of the Premier League, which was an unthinkable task not so long ago?
There seems to be a real affinity with Bournemouth Football Club and Eddie Howe. The Cherries’ boss spent a lot of his playing career at Dean Court – playing over 250 times over the course of 11-years with the club. Howe was just 29 when he earned his first taste of managerial experience. Kevin Bond, who was Cherries’ manager at the time, gave Howe a player-coach role and duty of coaching the Bournemouth reserve team – and he has never looked back since.
Due to injury, Howe called time on his playing career in 2007, but it didn’t take him too long before he found himself in senior management of Bournemouth. Despite taking over halfway through the campaign, and facing a 17-point deduction, Howe done enough to keep the Cherries in the Football League.
Things just got better and better from then on for Howe, as he guided Bournemouth into League One the following season. That led to inevitable interest from other clubs, and it was Burnley who won the race to persuade one of England’s top managerial prospects to join at Turf Moor in January 2011. For one reason or another, things didn’t quite go to plan for Howe at Burnley, and just 20 months later – he was back in the hot seat at the Goldsands.
Howe continued where he left off in the south coast – after an incredible turnaround he secured another promotion with the Cherries, this time to the Championship – finishing second behind Doncaster Rovers. Bournemouth had a very successful first year in England’s second-tier – it was a real season of consolidation, which flirted with the play-offs, but eventually finished in a very respectable 10th place finish.
However, this season the Cherries’ look like a total different animal. Howe has got his side playing very attractive football, accumulating in some stunning results. The Cherries opened the season with a 4-0 mauling over Huddersfield, then standout results against Reading (3-0) and the 8-0 thumping of Birmingham City at St Andrews in late October, has fired them to the Championship summit. They also went on an astounding seven-game winning streak in all competitions, and are currently on a 12-game unbeaten run.
So just what is it the secret with Eddie Howe at Bournemouth? It’s obviously a mixture of things, but ultimately it’s the respect he demands from his players. There seems to a structured stability within the club – they haven’t got the biggest stadium, or indeed the biggest budget. But it looks like a case of ‘make do with what we’ve got’ – but Bournemouth are doing even more than that. With just two home league defeats all season, Howe has turned the Goldsands into a real fortress, and it’s hard to find any faults with Bournemouth at present – they really are riding on a crest of a wave.
Bournemouth break from league action as they welcome Brendan Rodgers’ wounded Liverpool side to the Goldsands tonight – in a Capital One Cup quarter-final. It seems to be a perfect time for the Cherries to face Liverpool, not only with their own excellent form, but the Reds’ enduring a dreadful campaign thus far. You wouldn’t put it past the south coast club causing an upset tonight, or would it even be much of an upset with the clubs current difference in fortunes.
A run in the cup is always nice, but ultimately it’s all about one thing for Bournemouth this season – promotion to the Premier League. Could Eddie Howe turn Bournemouth from a team fighting for their Football League existence to a top-flight club, in an unimaginable short amount of time?