In the wake of the news that Chris Wilder is to part company with Sheffield United a number of names have already been touted as a replacement. One of those who is leading the race to be the next Blades boss according to the bookmakers is former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe. Eddie Howe had to manage in the face of major financial struggles in his early days with Bournemouth – something that shaped his approach in the future.
“By the time I was given the manager’s job on a caretaker basis in 2009, things were really bad,” he recalled. “I’d seen the club struggle financially before, so it wasn’t unique. Within six months, I’d tasted everything that management can throw at you.
“There always seemed to be obstacles getting chucked in our way. The following season we had to work through a transfer embargo, although that was a turning point for me because I learned that I had to get the best out of what I had. Again, that was a brilliant thing so early in my career – getting the best out of the resources you have is the challenge that we all face. Our success came in creating an environment where the players felt they were fighting for an objective and a goal. When we were staying up, we had a point to prove; we were fighting against the authorities, and the football world, and the unfairness of our situation. Even if the next season the anger went, the spirit remained, and in promotion we were fighting for something positive. The basis of what we do today was formed in that second year.”
Howe’s next comments could be music to the ears of the Blades chairman.
“You can moan about your transfer budget or the facilities you have but you can still find a way to get around those things if you’re smart with what you do. That built my mindset of being the first person on the training pitch every day, and the last person to leave it. Working with the players on a one-to-one basis, really getting to know them, trying to understand them and their weaknesses, and attempting to improve them – that approach has never changed.”
Howe’s managerial approach has also been shaped by having his playing career cut short due to injury, as well as the influence of key mentors such as Sean O’Driscoll and Kevin Bond. His time in the Premier League should also serve him well.
“I’ve always believed I can achieve all of my ambitions at Bournemouth. Whether the reality proves different, and what the future holds, I don’t know. But I’ve never believed in limitations and people telling you that you can’t do things. If we’d done that at the start, we probably wouldn’t have gotten out of League One.”
The 42-year-old parted company with Bournemouth following their relegation from the Premier League last season and had two spells in charge of the Cherries, sandwiching a brief stint at Burnley. With three promotions on his CV and a knowledge of how to get teams promoted to the Premier League he’s an ideal candidate for the Blades to take over from Wilder. He may also just be the ideal fit for Sheffield United owner Prince Abdullah having worked previously to a tight budget and knowing how to improve a team without making wholesale changes, as he has hinted at.
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