The late Saturday evening statement from AFC Bournemouth was poignant yet so brutal. Howe whose service for the club stretches well over twenty-five years at the football, it all came down to an one page statement stating that now it was time for a new direction. Eddie Howe was leaving the club with immediate effect by ‘mutual consent’.
For AFC Bournemouth, it is yet another devastating blow after relegation from the top flight last weekend. VAR gaffes aside, AFC Bournemouth have struggled for form at both ends of the pitch since early November. A road trip win to Everton on the final day was only their second win since the league resumption. Too little, too late.
What went wrong for Howe and Bournemouth?
Eddie Howe has looked a dejected, demoralized figure during the season just past. The squad recruitment last summer was inadequate, lack of cover defensively and the key acquisition of Dominic Solanke never reaped the dividends required until too late in the season.
The lack of keeper cover after Begovic left the club was key. Ramsdale tried to fill the void but with a back three or four struggling for pace and confidence, it was no surprise that clean sheets were a rare commodity. A defensive line containing the highly regarded Nathan Ake, the defensive issues have been surprisingly plentiful.
The Ryan Fraser saga this season demonstrated clear disharmony between the player, Howe and the club board. A player who provided several key assists for Callum Wilson last term was nowhere to be seen in the season just past. The contract negotiation was long and the decision of Fraser to leave the club before the end of the league campaign was inevitable.
There are currently legal hearings on the EPL final standings but for now, AFC Bournemouth have to be prepared to deal with life in the EFL Championship, a league which is uncompromising at the best of times but a club who have decided to part ways with a long serving manager, it is a daunting task.
Several squad members will be looking at their options on the back that Howe has left the club. Nathan Ake is already on the move to Manchester City. I suspect that the likes of Callum Wilson, Joshua King, Harry Wilson will test the market for their services.
AFC Bournemouth investment in the squad this off-season is absolutely key but was their a difference of opinion between the owners and Howe on the level of investment required? It looked like the club board were conservative in their transfer acquisitions and Howe walked.
Bournemouth look extremely vulnerable
I fear for AFC Bournemouth. The club transfer budget will be conservative, the stadium revenues are low anyways. The lack of managerial direction damning to the off season preparations in progress and for players who were interested in joining the club, the news of Howe leaving will cast major question marks on their moves.
We have seen how relegated clubs have struggled in the EFL Championship. This league is unforgiving and AFC Bournemouth will be a prized scalp for anyone in the division next season. Look at how Stoke City and Huddersfield Town struggled for form and performance during the season just past. A poor start and Bournemouth are looking at third tier football and then the rot truly sets in.
Where now for Eddie Howe?
Eddie Howe departs the club for pastures now. His work at AFC Bournemouth has been nothing short of sensational but now is the time to take stock, reflect and improve. The need for a backup game plan when the passing game is struggling was exposed during this end of season run in. A little more directness to unleash Wilson and Solanke could have made a difference down the stretch as well as reducing pressure on the defensive side of the pitch.
There will be suitors looking for Eddie Howe’s services but will Howe want to leap back into management immediately. I am thinking he will take time out and look at his options. A manager who is highly regarded will be in the thoughts of EPL club boards when the new season commences.
Who would approach Howe? There are a number of EPL clubs right now who could do worse than seriously consider Howe.
I will start with Crystal Palace. Roy Hodgson has stabilized the football club but the end of season run in was terrible (admittedly facing several top six teams) but is it a time where Palace look long term? If they do, then a youthful energetic manager like Eddie Howe could fit the bill.
Brighton & Hove Albion survived the EPL relegation dogfight but I think the club board were expecting more from Graham Potter and squad last term privately.
Chris Hughton was sacked for a lack of progression in the side. I am not seeing this at the moment with Potter at the helm and if the new season sees more indifferent results then, I would fear for Potter and the board have been known to pull the trigger when required.
Howe as a former manager in the South coast could spark more interesting viewpoints from Brighton & Hove Albion fans but would it be the worse appointment given the passing football ethos that Eddie Howe implores his teams to play?
West Ham United. It will be a natural link. Does the board give David Moyes the time to develop the squad after keeping them up for another EPL campaign?
If they look to move on again, Eddie Howe looks like a manager that the board would crave and demand to be secured. The footballing ethos, the ability to support Howe in the transfer market. For Howe, would he be interested in a club who sack their managers like the changing of the weather seasons? It is a difficult one to gauge.
Everton. You may laugh here at this one but did you know that Eddie Howe is an Everton fan and I remain convinced that Carlo Ancelotti will be at this club long term. The transfer plans need to be executed to perfection by Everton for Ancelotti to remain in the managerial position.
The Italian has form in terms of walking away from clubs who do not agree with his transfer objectives or objectives not met. This is a huge summer for Everton to get transfer business spot on. Eddie Howe and his northern club managerial experience was indifferent with Burnley but an opportunity to manage a club which has affinity to could be a big tempter.
Aston Villa survival does not mask the poor recruitment at the football club in the off-season last year. Dean Smith is Aston Villa through and through but some of the personnel changes were questionable. Danny Drinkwater cameo was an embarrassment and really questioned Smith’s judgement on player personnel issues.
Villa survived but Smith tactically at times was exposed with his defense stretched to breaking point at times due to how open his midfield area was. Villa will hold loyal with Smith but a repeat struggle to the start of next season and the vultures will be out. Eddie Howe is then on the radar and a manager who will embrace the challenge.