Eddie Howe was considered as one of the frontrunners for the Everton job if Marco Silva is sacked. Everton are currently hovering in the relegation zone after midweek derby wreckage at Liverpool. Howe, a boyhood Everton fan, had been identified by Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright as the top choice to replace Silva in the event of his departure.
But Howe has shown his weaknesses this season. Bournemouth’s plunged to a new low in Tuesday night’s clash with Crystal Palace. At Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace went down to 10 men early on when Mamadou Sakho was shown a red card. Up against 10 men for 70 minutes, Bournemouth drew a blank and couldn’t score. Moreover, Palace went and snatched a winner after Jeffrey Schlupp’s solo goal earned Palace three points. Howe was powerless to prevent yet another defeat for the Cherries.
Eddie has overachieved with a club that has both limited talent and resources. He has taken a club from the literal bottom of the Football League to the top half of the Premier League. His remarkable achievement from transforming Bournemouth from the fourth tier of British football 94th position speaks a lot. He even went on to beat Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea! An eye for detail that could be compared with Pep Guardiola.
Howe had been appointed player-coach by Cherries boss Kevin Bond in December 2006. His premature retirement was, in a perverse way, one of the greatest things that happened to him, for it allowed him to delve with a headstart into the world of football management. After being appointed on a permanent basis, Howe steered a seemingly doomed Bournemouth to safety in League Two. Focusing on footballing – not financial – matters proved to be the key for him. Howe’s appointment lifted the overall mood at the club and the increasingly frequent collection of three points on a Saturday afternoon helped smack a smile on the face of supporters, too. The following season saw Howe oversee the club’s promotion back to League One, guiding them to a second-place finish and, while Bournemouth fans anointed Howe as their great liberator from lower-echelon doom, they were acutely aware of that old footballing axiom: when a club rises, so too does the manager’s stock.
However, Tuesday defeat was a chastening for Eddie Howe’s methods and his team management skills which the manager himself acknowledged. Eddie Howe said “It is a tough one for us to take. We needed to get something from tonight’s game and we are hugely disappointed we haven’t. We didn’t do enough with the ball and we didn’t hurt them enough. Credit to them for how they defended in their shape. We should be able to do better and I have to take responsibility for that. When you’re in this form, it is a tough one to work out, we could have won all of these games but we have lost them narrowly.”
For all the good things about Eddie Howe, following are the questions which need to be investigated before he is appointed manager of any top or mid club having ambitions to challenge for European honors.
Where is variation in his style?
Sometimes inhibition, low confidence and injuries disrupt a natural way of playing, but Bournemouth don’t appear to have a contingency for that. Or the capacity to pivot whenever circumstances change. It doesn’t in itself mean that Howe’s reputation is built on fallacy, but then neither does it portray any dexterity.
Handling relentless media pressure?
There are some similarities here to pre-Manchester United David Moyes. Howe is not coaching the same football in the same style and their personalities aren’t even vaguely comparable, but the attention paid to his work is familiarly selective. When he wins, he’s terrific; he’s doing brilliant work on a budget and enabling a traditionally smaller club to achieve beyond their means. When he loses, it doesn’t matter because…he’s doing brilliant work on a budget and enabling a traditionally smaller club to achieve beyond their means. Howe is due plenty of praise, but if this habit of putting him forward for other jobs persists – or, in some cases, he continues to be used as a cypher for the plight of the British manager – then there needs to be a more honest assessment of his strengths and weaknesses. He’s not David Moyes, let’s be clear, but there’s the same failure to apply proper scrutiny.
Bournemouth have suffered too many mid table finishes due to a protracted slump every season since promotion? What does that problem reveal about his management style? We know that they’ll recover their form and that, at some point, Howe will revive them, but what puts them in that situation in the first place?