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Premier League asks Eddie Howe, "What have you done for us lately?"

Saturday 4th November 2017
Until this season, Eddie Howe's rise through the Premier League managerial ranks was the stuff of fairy tales. Suddenly, the happy ending is in doubt.

Howe's extraordinary story began in the League Two cellar. He took over the reins at Dean Court in January, 2009. Bournemouth appeared on its way out of the Football League, having begun the season on -17 points after failing to complete administration requirements. A mere eight years later, he and the Cherries were celebrating a ninth-place finish in the Premier League.
Reinforcing the stereotype that average players, for whom the game doesn't come naturally, make the best managers, Howe turned to coaching after a serious knee injury halted his career in 2007.

He has long been linked with a top job in English football. He was even temporarily lured away from the South Coast by Burnley after his initial success. Since returning, Howe has been fully devoted to the club where he first developed his managerial skills, and for whom he played more than 200 games.

To this point in the 2017-18 season, the club has been just as loyal to him. The rest of the league seems to have forgotten “the perfect England manager.”

Just a month before he hits 40, Howe is coaching Bournemouth in their third consecutive year in the Premier League. Previously, the Cherries had improved with each season in the top flight. Not this year.

Continuing that streak will require a significant turn-around. Bournemouth has only managed seven points from 10 matches this season. After investing £30 million on new talent in the summer, the Cherries are struggling to find their feet.
Suddenly, Howe is not being mentioned as the homegrown candidate in relation to managerial vacancies at other clubs, as he usually is. The man who took over for him at Burnley, Sean Dyche, now has that honour all to himself.

He wasn't discussed as a replacement for Ronald Koeman, nor when Craig Shakespeare was fired from Leicester City. Bournemouth's lowly position in the table seems to be cloaking Howe's unrivaled success at the Dorset club, making owners reluctant to approach him. Overnight, he has become a managerial leper.

This is the season Howe must prove his consistency. For all the development he has brought to Dean Court, there have been questions regarding his recruitment record. Howe's ability to groom youngsters into top class players or spot a bargain cannot be questioned. He has not done so well with big names, as Jack Wilshere's presence in the Arsenal U23s will attest..

Three years on, Howe still places his trust in his Championship title-winning holdovers. High-profile signings Jordan Ibe and Benik Afobe have failed to break through to the starting XI. Such is the pressure Howe exerts on players, some newcomers struggle to settle. Few gain his implicit trust.

Howe might say there is no greater responsibility than being charged with ensuring Bournemouth retain its Football League status. Had the club slid into the obscurity of non-league, they might have ceased to exist altogether. Yet, that was eight years ago.

Now, Howe's task is to revive Bournemouth's fortunes. Pushing them out of the relegation battle and comfortably into the mid-table would re-establish him as a top-class manager.
He will always be known for holding to his principles. Howe is similar to Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola in that respect. Through self-belief, he has travailed in times of trouble, overcoming every challenge presented. He is committed to Bournemouth, where his legacy is already established, perhaps to a fault.

The longer the team struggles in this season, the more it will become apparent nothing lasts forever. Failure will likely send the club and Howe back to the Championship, albeit separately. Neither wants to be there.  Eddie Howe has already proven English managers can prosper when given the opportunity. For that to remain true, he must do it again.
Adebayo Temitope

Temitope, an ardent soccer fan. I may be based in Lagos but I watch as much European football as I can. I've been writing about football for several years, before I joined IRIAW you may have seen my work on The Football Weeks. I'm also a keen music fan


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