In a League of glamorous clubs and star players, it is somewhat suprising to see AFC Bournemouth sat comfortably in sixth place.
Seventeen points from their opening nine games sees The Cherries just four points off fourth place. Yes, it’s only nine matches in to a long season, but the strides made by Bournemouth under their impressive manager Eddie Howe have been huge.
Many tipped them to struggle after last season’s dip in Premier League standings. But, Howe appears to have kept his team focused and lean. Their dedication to playing good, expansive and eye catching football is a testament to the work done by their Buckinghamshire born boss.
Tipped for the big time
It’s par for the course for any decent manager to be linked to a number of roles.
What’s interesting with Howe though, is where his name keeps cropping up. Already linked to Arsenal and Everton’s recent vacancies, it appears he is not simply being considered as an option at the rear end of the league.
Where certain managers are constantly being parachuted into bottom six clubs to do a fire fighting role, it appears Howe is already above that level.
There have also been whispers of Spurs considering an approach should Pochettino be snared by Manchester United.
That he should already be linked with such loftier roles, is a sign of how well he is thought of amongst other top flight clubs. Should he really kick on this season with Bournemouth, he will be even more in demand. Perhaps worryingly for The Cherries, the signs are there that their coach is already at a different level.
Callum wilson, Josh King, Ryan Fraser, they are hardly household names in the Premier League. However, under the guidance of Howe and his team, they have blossomed. As a front three, they are not up there with the best the game has to offer, far from it.
But they are currently punching massively above their weight. They look full of confidence and clever movement, with their recent demolition job of Watford bearing all the hallmarks of players oozing with confidence.
Howe and his coaching team have massively improved these players. They have found an extra gear in their games and look set for memorable seasons.
Other, youger players have also benefited from exposure to Howe and his methods. David Brooks already looks comfortable in the Premier League and Nathan Ake has been linked with a big money return to several top six clubs. Lewis Cook looks a real talent and is already in the the England Squad.
Interestingly, as well, Howe seems to be forging a lot of respect from his peers. Wenger was keen to get Wilshere to the Vitality as he tried desperately to get his player fit again. Jordan Ibe was also more than happy to turn many interested parties and join Howe’s Cherries after leaving Liverpool.
There is clearly a lot of admiration and respect in the game for the work being done by the 40-year-old. It’s a reputation growing by the week.
Barring a complete meltdown, Bournemouth already look set for another good season in the top flight. Defying the odds and refusing to break from the excellent football he has consistently played, Howe looks likely to continue to be linked to decent vacancies as well.
His next step could be a sign of what kind of manager he truly is. There is always a danger of staying for too long at a club which ultimately doesn’t have the capacity to challenge. Moyes did this with Everton and it was probably a contributing factor to his failed stint at Old Trafford.
Howe will surely not want to stagnate. He appears to be a man hungry to learn. Time shadowing current Chelsea boss Sarri during his spell at Empoli is a sign of an intelligent man wanting to further educate himself in the game. Surely that will show itself in his ambitions to make it at the top level of domestic football.
If he does go on to the next level, he may find Spurs or Arsenal as a little too big for him at this early stage of his career. Perhaps time at a club looking to push the top six and with financial clout to boot, would be a logical step.
Either way, no matter what he ultimately chooses to do, this year looks to be another big one for Howe. It appears he is here to stay.