At first the AFC Bournemouth fans will have felt angry and bemused as to why Eddie Howe departed days after he temporarily committed his future to the club, but there is no need for an apology as Howe masterminded an incredible first taste of management that nobody could have envisaged.
Howe arrived on the managerial scene in January 2009 after an injury-plagued playing career where he earned the tag as a fans’ favourite on the south coast. The future looked bleak for the Cherries. Ongoing financial woes led to administration, a total of 27 points deducted in two seasons and the distinct possibility of relegation from the football league looming large.
Fast forward to January 2011, and he leaves as a hero – reflecting on a wonderful two years that restored hope and pride as they maintained their football league status.
Not only that, Howe’s boys gained promotion from League Two in 2010 with a threadbare squad, and continued to defy the critics again as he left the Cherries breathing down the necks of League One leaders Brighton this season.
The only way has been up for Eddie Howe and assistant boss Jason Tindall. Their achievements have been nothing short of incredible. Since Howe took over the reigns, Bournemouth have won 50 out of 100 games, and have done this without being able to field a full substitutes bench for much of the process.
Veteran striker Steve Fletcher, who now takes over Tindall’s duties as assistant manager, has enjoyed a resurgence of form under Howe’s stewardship, and scored the last goal of his tenure before two late goals denied Howe a fitting send off against Colchester.
Danny Hollands, dogged with knee problems in recent years, fought through the pain barrier to play a key role in the promotion season in League Two and has continued his progress. Clever acquisitions like winger Marc Pugh, Tottenham loanee Adam Smith and former Norwich full back Rhoys Wiggins have been masterstrokes – and those are the type of masterstrokes that Howe continued to pull off in a three-year spell dogged by financial obstacles.
But now he and Tindall have gained their deserved chance at Championship big boys Burnley, and they have every chance of succeeding and making their excellent man-management rub off on the new set of players. Even though the pair are six years younger than Burnley’s oldest workhorse Graham Alexander, they will certainly have the dressing room’s backing, and their previous record shows no reason why they can’t inspire promotion to the Premier League.
Of course, management duo Howe and Tindall have spent the majority of their playing days at Bournemouth, so making the step up to a new division and a new team will have its challenges. Chairmen are more fickle than ever in the modern game, and time to settle is a rare luxury, so the pair will need to adjust to life in the Championship quickly and have a solid six months to secure their futures. But the man management, the desire and the application is something that won’t go away, and if they have every tool in their armoury to produce the goods and be the youngest Managerial duo in the Premier League.