Eddie Howe already looks a Premier League manager in all but name

Young boss’s Championship leaders Bournemouth face Aston Villa in the FA Cup

 Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe: he is fresh-faced but experienced, polite but strong. Photo:  Stu Forster/Getty Images

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe: he is fresh-faced but experienced, polite but strong. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

 

Something happened at Elland Road the other night that you don’t see too often. In the 28th minute, shortly after Artur Boruc had a made a save in the Bournemouth goal from Leeds United’s Luke Murphy, a break in play saw all 10 Bournemouth outfielders scurry over to the touchline. They were under instruction.

There Eddie Howe was effectively giving a time-out team-talk. His players, top of the Championship, were embroiled in cut-and-thrust fare with Leeds when Howe wanted them, not the hosts nor the crowd, to dictate.

It didn’t work. The entire 90 minutes was a see-saw caper in which both sides could have scored at least three. At its end, Bournemouth missed an 86th-minute penalty and so lost away from home for the first time since September.

“We gave them a leg up with how we started,” Howe said. “The crowd got behind them. Our game plan was the opposite.”

The defeat was a rare blemish for Howe and his club. Even losing, they stayed top. Even not at their best, they still played well in periods.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert was there and if he took one thing away from Leeds’ performance, it was its intensity. It’s Villa v Bournemouth in the FA Cup on Sunday and Lambert cannot afford his players to be subdued. If so, Bournemouth will pass their way past them. They’re good enough and they play like a drilled unit.

It could be an odd occasion for Lambert. His team must win to justify their status as favourites and also to protect their Premier League credibility. The Cherries of Bournemouth, meanwhile, can be as close to carefree as professionals get.

Stunning shock

Whereas Bournemouth and Howe feel very much 2015, Villa and Lambert do not. Lambert had just left his 30s when he was appointed by Norwich City in August 2009. He was a League One manager but he was also a European Cup winner – Borussia Dortmund 1997 – and he had that Glaswegian texture too.

Lambert was a coming man. Villa were delighted to get him.

Now he looks grey and sounds world-weary. He is the last Scottish managerial voice in the Premier League. The days when young men like Lambert and Owen Coyle were seen as the next big-thing successors to Alex Ferguson are gone, perhaps temporarily, perhaps not.

Eddie Howe looks like the future, while Seán Dyche is doing at Burnley what Coyle chose to walk away from. With Ferguson, David Moyes, Kenny Dalglish, Alex McLeish, and even the likes of Steve Kean having left the Premier League scene as well as Coyle, a seemingly unending Glaswegian river of managers has dried up. It is a trend.

Howe joined Bournemouth as an 11-year-old and started managing in crisis aged 31. He had 21 months at Turf Moor before returning to his first love in October 2012.

It was while at Burnley Howe addressed the nationality question. “There has been a feeling of late that English managers have gone out of fashion at the top level, which is a shame,” he said.

‘New trends’

The current top-six clubs may be managed by men of foreign nationalities but, below them, there has been a restocking of Englishmen. Sam Allardyce, Garry Monk, Alan Pardew, Harry Redknapp, Nigel Pearson and Dyche have dislodged the Scots.

Howe could add to that on Sunday, and beyond. Monk is two years younger than Howe, but at 37, Howe has been managing since 2008. At Bournemouth of late he has had the benefit of Russian money from Maxim Demin, but in earlier times Howe dipped into his own pocket to help his club. He is fresh-faced but experienced, polite but strong. There is something of the Seán O’Driscoll about him.

Howe will take that as a compliment because O’Driscoll was one of his mentors – “Seán O’Driscoll was a huge influence, he was the youth coach at Bournemouth. He made you think”.

O’Driscoll has long seemed determined to side-step the palaver of modern football. Howe is not quite as reticent, but he does share a desire to make people think. He did that with his players at Elland Road on Tuesday night and he could do it at Villa Park.

They might think: here’s a Premier League manager in all but name, young, gifted and English.

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