Cherries on top!

Cherries on top!
Eddie Howe celebrates pormotio to the Premier League

Eddie Howe celebrates promotion to the Premier League

AFC Bournemouth will play in the Premier League next season. And for me, writes Vernon Grant, it is one of the more well deserved promotions of recent years.

Manager Eddie Howe has the Cherries playing good football. A passing game, keeping the ball on the ground when possible and not relying on hoofing the ball forward to a big man.

For a long time, I’ve had a lot of time for Eddie Howe. A good manager. A good man.

He and Bournemouth fit each other well. He left Bournemouth once and tried his hand up at Burnley. But the south coast was where he belonged. Without him Bournemouth struggled. And without Bournemouth, Eddie didn’t feel at home.

Some managers are ideally suited to certain clubs. Long ago, at the time when he was first appointed at Stamford Bridge, I said that Jose Mourinho was an ideal match for Chelsea. And so it has proved. Next season Chelsea will visit Bournemouth and the new boys in the big league need not fear anyone. In Cup competition, when playing the role of underdog, they have performed well and taking a scalp or two.

Bournemouth will score goals in the Premier League. Of course, they will also let a fair few in. That will make their matches of interest to punters who like to bet in the so called “over” market. Over so many goals in a game. I can’t see Bournemouth being involved in too many goalless draws.

Eddie Howe said: “We learned quite quickly that we are at our very best when we are on the front foot and when we look to attack and play our brand of football. We try to take the initiative. It has served us so well. We try to steer away from being negative. We got the balance right this season. We’ve got some very good creative talent in the side. We press high and give them licence to play. Our goalsocring record this season has been very good.”

Inevitably, Bournemouth will be the favourites for relegation. William Hill offer 4/6 for Bournemouth to go down and 11/10 to stay up. I’m not betting in that market but I would not be surprised if Bournemouth survived their first season in the Premier League.

Punters remember, it often takes a while for the more established Premier League sides to fathom a new team in their midst. Bournemouth will begin their new life in confident mood and their early results may be good. They’ll surprise some people between August and November and pick up some unexpected wins. If you were backing them to go down, I’d wait until after opposing clubs have sussed their weaknesses. I hope they stay up.

Eddie Howe has done wonders in the dressing room and on the training pitch. The players he has given a chance to have responded in fine fashion. They are a team, not a collection of mercenaries. Of course, Eddie will now be receiving e-mails and videos from agents all over the world. They will be trying to persuade him that their overseas star is just the right man for Bournemouth. They likely won’t be, of course. But for the player it’s a route to the Premier League. And for the agent, well, it’s another pay day.

I hope Bournemouth try to keep their squad largely home grown. Howe has picked up some very good young footballers from elsewhere in the UK. He has trusted his scouts and coaching staff. And, credit where its due, those in the boardroom have trusted Eddie Howe.

So often a foreign owner or chairman wants to bring in a foreign manager. They seem to think foreign coaches are better than British ones. I have no idea why. It’s rare I find opportunity to praise the owners of football clubs. But Bournemouth owner Maxim Demin and chairman Jeff Mostyn deserve credit. They stuck with Eddie Howe and have had their loyal and common sense approach rewarded.

Other clubs will come calling for Eddie Howe. He’ll be tempted by some big offers come next winter, if not before. He’ll want to stay with Bournemouth. But, if he leaves, living down the road is a former manager of the club. As it happens, he is a neighbour of the Russian owner.

Harry Redknapp, a man Howe knows well, is sat at home staring at the sea and wondering if he’ll be offered another job in the game. Who knows? Perhaps Bournemouth will employ Harry as a “Director of Football.” The sort of job title Harry himself thought nonsensical when he was a manager and saw someone else appointed above him.

Harry Redknapp would not want to undermine Eddie Howe. But should the bright, young manager – a manager of the future – be tempted to manage one of the big Premier League clubs; then Redknapp would be a logical replacement (though not necessarily the right one).

But that’s for another time. Right now chairman Jeff Mostyn is all over social media outlets. His sheer joy in the dressing room after last night’s promotion securing win against Bolton is there for all to see. It’s refreshing and you can watch it here

A club that six years ago sat one place off the bottom of the Football League will kick off in the Premier League next season. If your own club has fallen from the top flight or, worse, fallen out of the league; their is hope. Keep the dream alive.

Bournemouth came out of a footballing coma. They were one game away from having their life support machine switched off.

In 1997, £35.000 was raised on a night when Matt Holland and other players walked around the club and town with buckets, collecting money to save the club. It is an era remembered by a journeyman footballer.

Steve Claridge had a long career. His 1000 game of professional football was in the colours of AFC Bournemouth. He said: “When I played here seven or eight years ago, the club couldn’t pay its medical bill of £230. I picked up an injury and asked the physio for help. He turned to me and said the club had no money so he couldn’t bandage my ankle. I would have to buy my own bandage!”

Claridge continues: “Let’s be clear about this. Lots of people have spent much more money than Eddie Howe and have not achieved what he has. They were in the doldrums when Eddie came here. Thanks to him, it’s now a fantastic place to play football.”

Chairman Jeff Mostyn summed up promotion: “It is a fairytale. This is a happy, family football club. Our strapline is ‘anything is possible’ and that sums up Bournemouth football club.”

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