Everyone likes an amazing story, especially when a small town club is on the cusp of promotion to the Premier League. AFC Bournemouth or a The Cherriesa owe a lot to their manager Eddie Howe, who has been sensational in guiding them to the top of the Championship.
Boscombe St John`s Institute FC, or Bournemouth AFC as they are presently called, can hardly boast of an illustrious history with their only major achievement being the FA Cup win over Manchester United in 1984 under former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp. They are on the verge of something very brilliant, and have the opportunity to play at the biggest stage in England, the Premier League. With the 4-0 win against Blackpool on Saturday, Bournemouth are on 69 points, level with Watford and Middlesbrough but with a better goal difference. This is one of the closest Championship seasons to date with as many as five teams in contention for automatic promotion to the English top flight.
Howe: A Bournemouth man through and through
Now in his second spell and one of the upcoming young coaches in Britian, it is safe to say that Eddie Howe is the catalyst for more progress at Bournemouth. Having spent a majority of his playing career with The Cherries, Howe started his managerial career at Bournemouth in 2008 as a fresh faced 31 year old. It was a major test for Howe, as Bournemouth were struggling for life in League Two and were given a 17 point deduction after failing to exit administration via the necessary Company Voluntary Agreement and for being declared insolvent for the second time in 2008. He still managed to steer them away from relegation that season, and Bournemouth havena t looked back since. They were promoted to League One the following season despite a transfer embargo and Howe was the target of interest for clubs in the higher division. A season at Burnley in the Championship didna t quite work out, and Howe finally made his return as boss to Dean Court in 2012 and The Cherries achieved promotion to the Championship in 2013.
Attacking philosophy and rise to the top of the Championship
Just before he was told that his chronic knee problem would cut short his career, Howe was invited to feature as a player coach by his then manager Kevin Bond. He then impressed his boss with his attacking philosophy and ideas of a passing game which is scarce in the lower divisions of the English league. Howe knew just the kind of players he needed to excel in the Championship, after finishing a respectable tenth last season. His experience of managing Burnley, where he had a tough time managing some of the senior players, has helped him to get the right personnel for a shot at winning the Championship and more importantly, gaining promotion to the top flight.
The acquisitions of Junior Stanislas, Dan Gosling, Artur Boruc and Yann Kermorgant who have spent a majority of their careers playing in the higher leagues has got him the experience needed to succeed in crunch games, and the youngsters have also delivered this season. Young Callum Wilson has been their main source of goals, with the striker getting as many as 16 goals this season.
Will Bournemouth grace the Premier League?
It seems highly likely at the moment. Howe and his Bournemouth side are in a similar situation to that of Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool in the Premier League last season. No one expected them to be at the top of the Championship with nine games remaining, and they are a bit more nervous than they were at the start of the season. Howe would not be worried about the attacking aspect of the game as his side are scoring goals for fun at the moment (The Cherries have now scored 78 goals in the Championship this season, more than any other club) and their only concern will be the amount of defensive errors made by the back four. Should they sort them out, and get positive results against their promotion rivals Ipswich and Middlesbrough, we may well see the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United play at the Dean Court next season.
Not only would playing in the Premier League be a remarkable story for The Cherries but it would also inspire many other small town clubs with a limited budget and a limited fan base to have that belief to move up the ranks, and establish themselves amongst the elite of English football.