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Is Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe capable of managing an elite club?

Rob Meech

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It is an extraordinary story; one often described as a fairytale. Bournemouth‘s rise from the foot of League Two to the Premier League has captured the imagination of all football fans and brought global attention to this small club on the south coast of England. One man has been there practically every step of the way.

Eddie Howe took charge of the Cherries on a permanent basis in January 2009, when they appeared destined to drop out of the Football League, having begun the season on minus 17 points. Just eight years later, he was celebrating the club finishing ninth in the Premier League.

Howe has long been touted for a top job in English football. Since returning from a stint as Burnley supremo when Bournemouth were in League One, Howe has remained faithful to the club that gave him his managerial wings and for whom he made more than 200 appearances.

It was a playing career that had been cruelly curtailed by a serious knee injury in 2007 but, as fate would have it, retirement enabled him to focus on coaching.

Like most elite managers, Howe never made it to the pinnacle as a player, although two caps for England Under-21s highlighted his potential as a youngster. He always had a cool head on his shoulders and was an intelligent reader of the game at centre-back.

Now just a month shy of his 40th birthday, Howe is overseeing Bournemouth’s third straight campaign as a Premier League outfit. One incredible statistic is that, in every season he has been in charge, the Cherries have bettered their previous finish.

Continuing that remarkable streak will take some doing this time. With just seven points from their first 10 matches, Bournemouth have suffered something of a hangover from last season. Despite investment to the tune of £30 million in the summer, the Cherries’ renowned brand of passing football has yet to click.

Perhaps it is revealing that Howe’s name has not been mentioned in relation to the vacancy at Everton, to which Burnley boss Sean Dyche – another English candidate – has been strongly linked.

Nor had Howe been among the frontrunners to succeed Craig Shakespeare at Leicester City before Claude Puel was appointed. Bournemouth’s lowly position in the table appears to have discouraged owners from approaching Howe, despite his unprecedented success at the Dorset club.

This season is arguably the biggest test of Howe’s credentials. For all the joy he has brought Cherries supporters, to whom he can do no wrong, questions have been asked about his recruitment record. Howe’s ability to improve youngsters or spot a bargain is in no doubt, but his handling of big names is up for debate.

Three years on, the nucleus of Bournemouth’s Championship title-winning side remains in place, while high-profile arrivals such as Jordon Ibe and Benik Afobe have failed to establish themselves in the starting XI. Such are the demands Howe puts on his players that some newcomers struggle to adapt, but those who do receive his implicit trust.

Howe would say there could be no greater pressure than being tasked with preserving Bournemouth’s Football League status, a feat they achieved against all odds some eight years ago. Had the club fallen through the trapdoor and into the obscurity of non-League, it is highly probable they would have folded altogether.

However, such are the high financial stakes at play in the Premier League that avoiding relegation this season is crucial to the club, whose ambitious plans include a brand-spanking stadium adjacent to their modest current ground, as well as a new training facility.

For Howe personally, reviving Bournemouth’s fortunes would reaffirm his own reputation. One thing he can never be accused of is abandoning his principles. Like Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, Howe has an unshakeable philosophy to which he has always remained true.

In times of adversity, he never doubts himself and has passed every challenge presented to him. Howe is totally committed to Bournemouth, where his legacy is already assured, but one day he will outgrow the club and move on to bigger things. Without doubt, he is one of the brightest prospects and is proof that English managers can flourish when given an opportunity.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Bournemouth

West Ham should bring Jermain Defoe back to East London

The 35-year-old made just 11 appearances in the league this season.

Josh Kerr

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Jermain Defoe
Photo: Getty Images

Despite a truly disappointing and underwhelming season for West Ham, the club managed to restore some pride when they finished the season with a 3-1 win over Everton at the London Stadium.

However, one result doesn’t shy away from a season of turmoil and rebellion from Hammers fans, as the club finished 13th with the toxic atmosphere in East London directed towards the owners.

The future is also uncertain for David Moyes but, if the Scotsman is to start thinking about potential transfers, the 55-year-old Scot should consider bringing former West Ham forward Jermain Defoe back to East London.

The 35-year-old hit 37 goals in 93 games for Sunderland before re-signing for Bournemouth on a free transfer last summer, a move that seemed a brilliant piece of business from the Cherries.

However, Defoe has been restricted to just 11 Premier League games this campaign, scoring just four goals. And, while the Englishman hasn’t hit the highs of last season, he is still a goalscoring threat to be reckoned with.

Despite Rangers being labelled the bookmaker’s favourites to sign the former Tottenham striker, according to Paddy Power, West Ham should definitely consider swooping for one of the Premier League’s ultimate poachers.

(Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Premier League)

West Ham have struggled with their forward options this season with Javier Hernández becoming frustrated on the bench, whilst Andy Carroll has also failed to hit the mark having struggled with injuries.

Defoe scored 18 goals during his time at Upton Park, quickly becoming a fans favourite, so should the Hammers bring back one of their former club heroes?

Considering Bournemouth have the likes of Joshua King and Callum Wilson in their forward line, they may be interested in offers for the 132-time Premier League scorer.

West Ham struggled for attacking firepower this term, with Marko Arnautovic largely relied upon upfront. Therefore, reinforcements are likely to arrive at the London Stadium during the summer.

When a player like Jermain Defoe shows even a slight sign of being unhappy, in this case, due to a lack of game time, it should then become the club-in-need’s priority to swoop.

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Wolves must ensure Benik Afobe stays at Molineux next season

Josh Kerr

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Afobe
Photo: Getty Images

Wolves have secured their promotion to the Premier League in emphatic style. Registering 99 points as champions is a fantastic achievement for the Midlands side.

However, there is still business that needs attending to before returning to the promise lands of England’s top division.

Wolves striker and Bournemouth loanee Benik Afobe’s future is still undecided and the Wanderers have to act fast if they are to make the deal permanent.

According to the Birmingham Live, there are terms of their loan agreement with Bournemouth that state the club have until May 31st to decide on whether they will make the deal permanent.

The Bournemouth Echo have also reported that Wolves will get first choice as to whether they sign the £12 million-rated striker on a permanent deal.

Despite not being a regular feature in the Championship all season, Afobe still boasts six league goals from nine appearances proving he could have more to offer next season.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Also, considering his experience in the Premier League, the 25-year-old would be a useful addition as they prepare for life in the top flight.

Afobe endured a successful first spell at the Molineux Stadium before his move to Bournemouth, reported by BBC Sport to be in the region of £10 million.

His initial two years at the club saw 23 goals in 48 appearances and the former England under-21’s star quickly became a fan favourite before leaving for the Cherries in 2016.

He rejoined Wolves in the January window, on loan, leaving the striker “crying in his car with happiness”, according to BBC Sport.

The 6ft striker has 63 Premier League appearances under his belt, and for £12 million it is surely worth the expenditure to have Afobe leading in the dressing room next season.

The move would be ideal for both parties as Afobe has failed to establish himself as Bournemouth’s first choice striker, falling behind the likes of Joshua King, Callum Wilson and Jermaine Defoe in Eddie Howe’s side.

Wolves supporters were delighted to see their former hero return home, and with a full season ahead of him, Afobe could be the man to help fire the goals that could keep the Midlands outfit in the division next season.

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Can Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe become Everton’s next ‘David Moyes’?

Eddie Howe could follow in the footsteps of former Toffees boss David Moyes.

Max Cohen

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Eddie Howe
Photo: Getty Images

On Wednesday night, Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side were unlucky to fall to a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United, as the Premier League 11th ranked club gave the Red Devils a torrid time.

The remarkable success of the young English manager at Dean Court bears an uncanny resemblance to the career path of David Moyes. Just like Moyes, Howe would be a perfect fit at Goodison Park.

In 1998, Moyes began his managerial career at the tender age of 34 at Preston North End, who were then struggling at the foot of the third division of English football. The Scot proceeded to engineer a fantastic turnaround at the club, avoiding relegation in his first season and achieving promotion just two years later.

Moyes brought Preston within inches of promotion to the Premier League the very next season, but the Lilywhites were defeated in the play-off final by Bolton.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League

(Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

In 2002, the Merseyside club came knocking, signing Moyes in March with the club in the relegation dogfight. The Glaswegian kept the Toffees up that season, and the rest is history.

11 years at Goodison Park brought unprecedented success, with Champions League qualification, a string of top-seven finishes, and even finishing above dreaded rivals Liverpool on occasion.

Just like Moyes, Eddie Howe started his career in coaching in his early thirties, and has enjoyed immense success in lifting a lower-league club up the English league system.

Howe took over at Bournemouth when he was 31, steering them clear of the League 2 relegation places in 2009, gaining promotion to League 1 in 2010, going up to the Championship in 2014, and reaching the Premier League in 2015.

If anything, Howe has experienced more success than Moyes before joining Everton, as his Bournemouth side have tremendously overachieved in the top flight and look set to secure their Premier League status for the third consecutive year.

Everton would do well to acquire the services of the youthful English manager in the summer, as his arrival just might spark a similar revival to that of David Moyes.

With his incredible knack of getting the best out of his players, Howe would revitalise the Toffees and breath fresh life into a directionless club; just like the Scot did 16 years ago.

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