Premier League Clubs Managed: AFC Bournemouth (2015-PRESENT)
Having just turned 40, 2017-2018 is only Eddie Howe’s third Premier League season. He rejoined the club for a second spell as manager in 2012 and has achieved already so much. Eddie is considered one of the brightest English managers in the game at the moment.
In his playing days, he operated as a defender, winning two caps for the England Under-21s in 1998 and spending the majority of his career playing for AFC Bournemouth. He was Portsmouth’s first signing in 2002 under Harry Redknapp, when Pompey paid £400,000 to Bournemouth to sign Howe.
Wretched injuries restricted him to just two appearances for the club and he even had a loan period with Swindon Town which saw him fail to play for them. Bournemouth took him back on-loan at the start of the 2004-2005 campaign and the move eventually became permanent. After over 270 league appearances, he retired from playing in 2007 as knee problems eventually took their toll and he moved into coaching with the reserve squad.
Saving Bournemouth from extinction
He did have a brief spell away from the club in 2008 after Kevin Bond was dismissed as manager but Eddie returned quickly into a youth coach role under new manager Jimmy Quinn. When Quinn was fired himself on New Years’ Eve 2008, Howe became caretaker manager. Even though he lost both of his matches in interim charge, he was given the job permanently in January 2009 and despite starting the season with a 17-point deduction due to being in administration, he managed to keep the League Two club in the Football League.
2009-2010 saw him make his first significant mark with promotion to League One achieved despite the club still being under a transfer embargo. Peterborough United made an approach for him but Howe turned the job down, saying “My heart is here and I think everybody knows how much I love the club.”
In January 2011, with Bournemouth doing well back in League One, several clubs made approaches, seeing Eddie’s clear talents. Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic were both very keen to acquire him but once again, he turned down those approaches. However, five days after resisting those clubs, Burnley came in for him and compensation was agreed between the clubs. After taking charge of his 100th match in a 2-1 loss at Colchester, Howe told his players he was leaving, unable to resist the chance to manage at an ambitious Championship club.
A tough challenge with Burnley
When he arrived, Burnley were 10th and only six points off the play-offs. They improved to eighth place but disappointed in his first full season at Turf Moor, struggling to 13th spot in the final standings. However, he did bring in the likes of Ben Mee, Kieran Trippier and Sam Vokes to the Lancashire club and set them in good stead for the future.
On a personal basis, things were very tough. His mother passed away and he felt he needed to be closer to his family. With the Clarets sitting 16th in the Championship table in October 2012, he left the club for personal reasons and returned to Bournemouth with the Cherries sitting in the bottom four of League One. Whilst he was away, major investment had gone into the club to improve the stadium and training facilities.
There was an instant impact on Eddie’s return to Dean Court. He won three of his first five matches back and the club steadily improved to a point where promotion from League One looked like a distinct possibility. Sure enough, AFC Bournemouth’s promotion to the Championship was confirmed in April 2013, finishing runners-up to Doncaster Rovers.
Taking The Cherries up
The foundations were now in place for a serious promotion push to the Premier League. 2013-2014 was an excellent starting point, finishing 10th and just six points shy of the play-offs. In 2014-2015, he secured Bournemouth’s ultimate dream and guided them into the top-flight just seven years after they nearly went out of business. A 3-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers secured the south coast’s side spot in the Premier League.
On promotion, he told BBC Radio Five Live: “It shouldn’t be them thanking me; it should be me thanking them. It is a family club and deserves its moment in the sun.”
A few days later, Bournemouth were confirmed as champions of the Championship, winning 3-0 on the final day away at Charlton Athletic, whilst Watford, who were favourites for the crown, drew at home to Sheffield Wednesday. He was crowned LMA Manager of the Year for his wonderful efforts and was now looking forward to the Premier League adventure.
There was a tough start with just two league wins in the first four months of the campaign and hefty back-to-back losses to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. However, December saw amazing victories away to champions Chelsea and at home to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United. They were virtually safe by early April and finished 16th in the final standings.
Although there were rocky moments in 2016-2017 including a worrying winless run between mid-January and the end of February, Bournemouth finished the season strongly and broke into the top 10, finishing a fantastic ninth.
In 2017-2018, despite losing their first four matches, the Cherries are looking more settled now with recent wins over Stoke City, Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town.
Eddie Howe is set for a long and successful career in management. He has already achieved so much in the game and has plenty of potential to go much further. Bournemouth are lucky to have one of the finest managerial talents in the game.