There is nothing AFC Bournemouth supporters dread more than the prospect of a football club without Eddie Howe. Not the selling of prized assets, or even relegation from the Premier League. To the majority of fans, Howe simply encapsulates AFC Bournemouth and a time without him at the helm is unimaginable. Regardless of what unfolds in the future, he will always command legendary status on this particular corner of the south coast. Having guided the club from the foot of League Two to the top-flight of English football in just six years, it’s the very least he can expect.
For a while, Howe was one of football’s best-kept secrets, but as Bournemouth climbed up through the divisions, so his stock rose. No longer is he flying under the radar, for there is no hiding place under the Premier League microscope. Howe’s achievements are now gaining the recognition they deserve. Last season, he was named the Football League’s manager of the decade after steering the Cherries to the Championship title, while this term he has performed wonders to all-but secure the club’s top-flight safety. In a division where English managers are few and far between – Howe is one of only three along with Sunderland’s Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew of Crystal Palace – his name is starting to be linked with coveted jobs.
Just last month, former Liverpool and England midfielder Danny Murphy; now a respected pundit, suggested Howe should be offered the Chelsea manager’s job, which has since gone to the current Italy head coach, Antonio Conte. Furthermore, a recent article in The Sun claimed Howe is in contention to replace Roberto Martinez, who is under increasing pressure at Everton following a disappointing campaign. While this is only speculation, it is something Cherries fans will have to get used to if Howe continues to excel at Bournemouth.
The opportunity to take the reins of an established Premier League outfit would surely be extremely tempting. To work on a daily basis with some of football’s biggest names would appeal to any manager, not least a fiercely ambitious one like Howe. When he returned to the Cherries four years ago for a second spell in the hot-seat, following an unsuccessful time at Burnley, Howe requested assurances over the direction of the club. With Russian businessman Maxim Demin having become a co-owner, those assurances were met. The working relationship between Howe and Demin; now the majority shareholder, continues to underpin the club’s success.
Although he is currently one of the longest-serving managers in the game, Howe is only 38 years old. He could conceivably have another 25 years in management if his career continues to progress at its current rate. He should be in no rush to leave Bournemouth, a club to which he is inextricably linked, so long as his ambitions continue to be realised. He will have learned much from his stint at Burnley and will be acutely aware that his next job must be right for him and his family.
Howe will not have viewed Bournemouth’s promotion to the Premier League as the end of the journey. Upon his homecoming in 2012, he and Demin devised a plan to take the Cherries from League One to the top-flight of English football in five years. That they achieved this ahead of schedule does not mean Howe’s work is done. He still has unfinished business as his ambitions continue to evolve and the club continues to grow. There is no doubt a time will come when Howe has outgrown AFC Bournemouth, but that time is not now. Masterminding the Cherries’ incredible rise to the Premier League wasn’t the end of the story for Howe. It was only the beginning.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Dan Westwell