Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe deserves a top job with a Big Six club… How high can he go?
THE danger for Eddie Howe is that he will be always be regarded as an up-and-coming coach.
That Howe’s cherubic looks, his unassuming manner and his commitment to refining a progressive passing game shows a manager still learning his trade. Shame, that.
That tag follows the 40-year-old Bournemouth boss everywhere, a convenient excuse for owners of ambitious Premier League cubs to turn to yet another overseas coach when they make their next appointment. The clamour for the next continental coach is never far away.
Despite leading the Cherries to Premier League safety with 16th, ninth and 12th-placed finishes, Howe seems to have fallen off the radar a bit.
The guy’s stock should be sky-high, one of the most talked-about coaches in the modern game after establishing Bournemouth as a Premier League club.
The powerhouses of English football — Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham — should all be keeping an eye on him.
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The next crisis at a top-six club is never far away, the next potential managerial appointment only a few defeats away.
Howe’s name should be part of the boardroom chatter, a contender to land one of English football’s most prestigious jobs the next time one of them comes up.
Sure, he is not one for self- promotion, one of those types who needs recognition for past successes or tactical triumphs.
He is the quiet man of football, the Mr Nice Guy of the Premier League after working hard to make sure Bournemouth have the respect of their top-flight peers. They have that now.
In the opening eight games this season they have upped the ante, playing with confidence as they move into the upper reaches of the Premier League.
The execution of their victory at Vicarage Road last weekend, when they beat 10-man Watford, was ruthless. They are showing no mercy. His thirst for information, his desire to improve, to raise standards and cultivate a playing style that meets his Utopian ideals, are impressive attributes.
To do it with Bournemouth, a club without top-flight history or pedigree, with such limited experience of the Premier League makes the achievement even greater.
Like any manager he has made mistakes. Signing Jack Wilshere on loan from Arsenal at the start of the 2016, with the midfielder failing to make much of an impression before his spell was cut short through injury, was one of them.
More recently, the decision to sign Jermain Defoe after Sunderland’s relegation from the Premier League has yet to pay off. Even so, Howe is known for nurturing talent. His training ground obsession is legendary.
Nathan Ake, signed from Chelsea, Simon Francis, Lewis Cook and David Brooks, a recent acquisition from Sheffield United, have all benefited from his input and ideas.
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He is an upwardly mobile manager, putting the 4-0 defeat at his former club Burnley behind him as they climbed to sixth before the international break with that thumping win over Javi Gracia’s Hornets.
Howe is not one to get carried away, well beyond that after years of fighting to establish himself as one of English football’s leading managers.
He has earned the right to be in that category, to be named in the same breath as managers who have yet to win a trophy with some top clubs.
Jurgen Klopp is three years down the track at Liverpool and is yet to get them back on the honours board.
Mauricio Pochettino, despite his obvious star qualities, is routinely reminded that he has yet to win a trophy with Tottenham.
Howe has a different brief, with the challenge to keep Bournemouth’s supporters interested while maintaining their Premier League status. By doing that, he deserves a damn sight more credit.
DAVID A GOLIATH
GIVEN the way David Brooks has started his Bournemouth career, the inquest will soon start into how England allowed him to slip through the net.
The reality is that Brooks, who won five England Under-20 caps, went all-in with Wales after some gentle persuasion from their Under-21s manager, Robert Page.
The former Blades star tapped up Brooks when he was an emerging young player at Sheffield United and convinced him that his best chance of making the international breakthrough would be with Wales.
He was right about that and there are a growing number of people who believe Brooks will be a better long-term bet in the Premier League than England’s new recruits Mason Mount or James Maddison.
R.I.P DOUG ELLIS
DOUG ELLIS enjoyed his reputation for hiring and firing managers — but his love for the sport was undimmed, even in his final years.
Ellis, who passed away yesterday, was still a regular at his beloved Aston Villa, right up until ill health finally got the better of him.
He was a huge character in his day, one of the forefathers of the Premier League after Villa clambered back into the top flight under Graham Taylor.
Both men are a big miss.
ITALY’S 43rd-minute salute in their friendly with Ukraine for the victims of the Genoa bridge tragedy shows the healing power of football.
Time stood still for 60 seconds on Wednesday night as every player, plus management staff from both countries, along with supporters inside Sampdoria’s stadium, paid their respects.
Nothing will bring back the 43 poor souls who lost their lives when that motorway bridge collapsed on August 14.
But the show of respect and solidarity inside Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa was truly humbling.