Written by Antonio Diaz (@antonio14_diaz)
AFC Bournemouth face fellow strugglers Norwich this weekend and it will mark 11 years since Eddie Howe became the permanent manager of The Cherries – and what a journey it has been.
Eddie Howe has been widely considered one of the best young managers in the game and has always had lots of praise for what he’s achieved with AFC Bournemouth, with The Cherries combative style of play also earning him plenty of plaudits.
However, in recent months this has disappeared due to lacklustre performances and a fall into the relegation zone with their Premier League status at risk.
So where has it all gone wrong? It was just over a month ago since The Cherries went to Chelsea and came away with all three points, even earning themselves a clean sheet to top it off. But was that just hiding the cracks?
With only 2 wins and a draw in their last 12 league games it has been relegation form for some time. However, the points they have picked up have all been against the so-called “Big 6”, with wins over United and Chelsea and a draw against Arsenal. Bizarrely, it seems The Cherries have come up short against the teams around them.
There are many reasons for Bournemouth’s downfall. A combination of their star players misfiring – Callum Wilson hasn’t scored a league goal since September – and tough luck with injuries has seen them slide down the table.
Many fans have started to criticise Howe and question if his time may be up, which is astonishing considering without Howe AFC Bournemouth almost certainly wouldn’t be a club and they most definitely would not be playing Premier League football. But with recent performances in mind, is it time for Howe to go?
For me, no; Eddie Howe is more then just the manager of AFC Bournemouth. He’s a legend of the club and in my opinion will go down in history as the clubs best ever manager. Everything he has achieved undoubtedly deserves more recognition. He’s kept the club in the premier league for 5 seasons, an outstanding achievement, and throughout that period he has got his players playing some excellent football.
Whilst this attractive brand of football deserves praise, Bournemouth have often struggled to keep clean sheets, and pundits have started to question his tactics in regards to defending. AFC Bournemouth have conceded over 300 goals since they joined the Premier League, a staggering amount for any side. However, with their style of play they will inevitably make mistakes and concede, but one thing they have always done is score goals, that is until recently.
Over the summer there was a lot of talk about star man Callum Wilson and many clubs seemed interested in the England international, which was understandable after Wilson being the main catalyst for the Cherries for over 5 years. However, with no one making any sort of bid it meant Wilson was still an AFCB player come the end of the summer and had another big season ahead of him.
Wilson most certainly wouldn’t of wanted this season to go how it has and maybe the reason he has struggled is due to his head not being completely in the right place. After all, when teams like Chelsea have shown interest it would be a task for any player to stay 100% focused, even more so when you’ve had two serious knee injuries and are approaching the twilight of your career.
This however could be an unfair assessment, but with no goals since the 28th of September something is definitely not quite right. For both Wilson’s and Bournemouth’s sake they will be hoping he can start finding the back of the net again as they head towards a run of crucial fixtures.
For me personally, I don’t think Howe should be on the end of a sacking. He’s one of the best English managers in the game. He is 110% committed to the club and he is in Bournemouth’s DNA. Moreover, keeping Bournemouth in the Premier League for 5 seasons without a relegation dogfight shows his quality as a manager. I’m not sure anybody will be able to replace him and do the job he’s done.
Yes, admittedly if you sack him you may get the initial new manager bounce but when that wears off AFC Bournemouth will probably find themselves in the circus of sacking managers every season looking for that same effect Howe has had on the club. Both board and fans must be patient, as hard and disappointing as it’s been over the last couple of months if there’s one person who knows how to save Bournemouth it’s most definitely Eddie Howe.