For a while, it was looking like the end of the road for Bournemouth’s Premier League adventure. A run of 10 defeats in 12 matches since November had left Eddie Howe’s side languishing in the relegation zone – the quick, zippy football purveyed by the Cherries throughout their spell in the top flight nowhere to be found.
“We are not scoring enough and that is damaging our belief that we can win games,” Howe said after a limp performance had resulted in a 1-0 defeat to bottom-of-the-table Norwich City at Carrow Road on January 18th. It was the kind of result that had Bournemouth fans fearing the worst, coming to terms with the possibility that Howe may not have what it takes to get them out of the mire. But since then, Bournemouth have bounced back.
Successive home victories in the league over Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa have seen the Cherries rise out of the relegation zone, and improve their chances for survival in the latest EPL relegation odds.The most pleasing aspect about those two wins for Howe will be that Bournemouth scored five goals across the two games, more than in their previous 10 games combined.
Goals have rarely been a problem for the Cherries during their time in the top flight, but this season strikers Callum Wilson and Josh King have failed to reach the scoring heights of previous campaigns.It was the lack of goals that was most worrisome for manager and supporters alike, as previously Bournemouth could always be relied upon to be an attacking threat.
It was the impotence of the team during that disappointing run of results that was most alarming, as the values that Howe had always instilled in the players seemed to have been lost.But then again, Bournemouth’s time in the Premier League has been marked by distinct spells of bad form followed by spells of good form. Their form chart across their Premier League seasons would be one of many undulations. There have been constant accusations that Howe has lost his touch before the team click into gear once again and go on a winning run.Indeed, we’ve become so used to Bournemouth’s presence in the Premier League that we lose sight of what a remarkable story it is that they are even here.
From administration just over 10 years ago, to League One and Championship titles, followed by a now five-season stay in the Premier League, it is a footballing fairytale the like of which may never be seen again.Much of this success is owed to Howe, who has revolutionised the inner workings of the club’s coaching methods, bringing Bournemouth into the 21st century as far as video and in-depth analysis is concerned. He is one of English football coaching’s greatest success stories, and deserves every credit for the job he’s done.
That’s why now’s not the time to cast Howe to the scrap heap. With these two latest victories, he has shown that he still has what it takes to lead Bournemouth out of the jaws of relegation and back to the Premier League’s middle reaches. In an age where managers change like the seasons at Premier League clubs, there is something so refreshing about Howe’s longevity. He has begun to turn the tables once again as regards to Bournemouth’s Premier League form, and don’t be surprised to see the Cherries’ top-flight fairytale continue for another few chapters yet.