Howe’s that for an appointment?

by Ryan Ghee

Monday, January 17th, 2011

The departure of Owen Coyle 12 months ago has so far proved to be too big an obstacle for Burnley to recover from. Since the Scot left for the bright lights of Bolton, the club has slipped from its short-lived stint among the country’s elite and back into the Championship, and an underwhelming first half of this season led to Coyle’s successor, Brian Laws, being relieved of his duties.

With a return to the big time still at the very top of the list of priorities, Burnley have now turned to 33-year-old former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe to lead the revolution; and based on his highly impressive – albeit short – managerial record to date, it could prove to be one of the best signings in The Clarets’ 129-year history.

Howe’s record speaks for itself. Having been appointed permanent manager of AFC Bournemouth in January 2009 – the club for which he appeared more than 250 times as a player – he was faced with the task of keeping the south coast club in the Football League. Lingering at the basement of League Two, a 17-point deduction and a season-long transfer embargo for entering administration looked to have all but consigned Bournemouth to the wilderness of non-league.

Five months on however, and following 12 victories in the 21 remaining league games, the Great Escape was complete, with a Howe-inspired Bournemouth not just avoiding the drop, but doing so by a handsome nine point margin.

Fast-forward twelve months and the Eddie Howe/AFC Bournemouth affair had turned into something of a fairytale. Again contending with a transfer embargo and with a depleted squad of just 19 players, the task at hand was to again secure the club’s league status. What Howe delivered was a second-placed finish and automatic promotion to League One. Howe had not only steadied the ship, he was bringing the club on a voyage beyond the wildest dreams of even the most ardent of fans.

Cementing his status as one of – if not the – best young managers in the English game, Howe has left Bournemouth with the club sitting in a position that had seemed beyond belief just two seasons ago. Fourth place in League One, just seven points off the summit, and a real chance of gaining promotion to the second tier of English football is Eddie Howe’s generous parting gift.

Howe’s proven man management and motivational skills will now be key to injecting life into a Burnley side which has failed to live up to expectations so far this season, and it would take a brave man to question the credentials of any team under his stewardship.

As for AFC Bournemouth, the club has a rich history of producing successful managers, with the likes of Harry Redknapp and Tony Pulis having sat in the home dugout at Dean Court in years gone by.  It may not be too long before Eddie Howe can etch his name alongside those illustrious counterparts.

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