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Eddie Howe and Bournemouth are more than just a partnership; it’s a bond built upon foundations consisting of fond memories and success of years gone by. The 42-year old has seen the club at their lowest when non-league football was a distinct possibility, transforming their fortunes and leading them to the promised land of the Premier League.
Howe kept the Cherries in League Two back in 2009, helping them to promotion the following season before departing for pastures new at then Championship side, Burnley. He did not stay away for long and returned for a second spell on the south coast in October 2012.
Promotion to the Championship was the first step and two years later, they were back in the top-flight – the pinnacle of his achievements on a personal level. In their first season, the Cherries finished 16th to secure their Premier League status.
Today, they find themselves in a precarious position after a turbulent season which sees them lying second from bottom. With a harsh run-in ahead of them, the daunting prospect of relegation is lingering above their heads.
Football is all-consuming for players, coaches and fans alike and Howe has conceded that Bournemouth's relegation battle has consumed him. However, he is using those emotions in a positive manner as he tries to inspire an upturn in fortune when it matters most.
The Cherries are four points from safety and have lost all four matches since the restart, failing to capitalise on teams around them also struggling to pick up points.
Eddie Howe of Bournemouth during a training session at the Vitality Stadium
Image credit: Getty Images
With five matches left to play, time is in short supply and their remaining fixtures see them face stern opposition. Tottenham, Leicester and Southampton will visit the Vitality Stadium with trips to Manchester City and Everton still to come. On paper this seems like an enviable task, but the restart has thrown up some surprises that have emphasised the unpredictable nature of football.
Results have been hard to come by for the Cherries and performances have fallen short of what we know they can produce. At this stage of the season, points trump performances and if Howe can light a fire in the bellies of his players – confidence and resilience could be enough to get results.
Wherever Bournemouth find themselves playing next season, they will need to reflect and rebuild after a bruising season for confidence and morale. Survival would be cause for celebration before a serious assessment of how they came to be in such hot water.
On the other hand, relegation tends to pose more challenging questions. Whatever their fate, Howe will surely be determined to make amends with a stronger showing next time out, but managers don’t always have the final say on such matters.
Image credit: PA Sport
A parting of the ways is far more difficult when the connection between coach and club is more than just a job. There are chapters of history between Howe and Bournemouth that will not be forgotten. However, football is ultimately a results business; something the Cherries have found difficult to muster of late and without this then sentimentality can sometimes be in short supply.
There is no reason to write off Howe or Bournemouth with survival still achievable. They have some tough fixtures ahead starting with Spurs on Thursday evening - but nobody is untouchable.
Have Your Say
Now it’s time for you to get involved! Head to our Twitter page and give us your thoughts on the ultimate question. Would you ‘stick’ with Eddie Howe or would you twist in favour of an alternative and if so, who would you choose and why?