Eddie Howe was the special guest on this week’s Monday Night Football and opened up on a range of topics, from his highs and lows at Bournemouth and his future coaching plans…
Howe famously took Bournemouth on a fairy-tale journey from the bottom of League Two to the Premier League in six and a half years, and kept the club in the top flight until their eventual relegation – and his departure – at the end of 2019/20.
Here are some of the key topics he discussed on the show with Dave Jones and Jamie Carragher…
Howe on… His achievements at Bournemouth
I’m incredibly proud of everybody connected with the club who played their part in that journey. It was such a unique journey, with so many things going against us throughout our time there, with some brilliant memories to look back on now.
The club’s still going, obviously, and hopefully going in a really good direction now, again, and I look back with immense pride.
Howe on… Finishing ninth in 2016/17
I don’t know if it was our best season. Our strength coming into the Premier League was our attacking play, we always conceded goals but that was on the back of being a very front-foot oriented team that wanted to attack and entertain, that didn’t want to lose that identity at all costs.
We were really proud of that and wanted to enhance that and continue to do that. It got harder as you went through the seasons having lost more games than you had won, and that battle, you are fighting with consistently, because it’s such a tough league.
Howe on… His balance between defence and attack
We always decided to go on the attacking side because we know that if we pictured Bournemouth at our best, it was free-flowing attacking football, it was not sitting back, soaking up pressure and defending.
We prided ourselves on that and worked on that continually to be better at our attacking play. We looked at that as our best form of defence, to attack and attack hard.
I don’t think you can be something you are not, my mindset is to try to win games first, rather than not lose. My mindset when I go into a game, even if people will think we have set up differently, we are deep-lying, we are passive, it’s always to win the game. Always.
I tried to instil that into my players every game, I do not think I could ever lose that, I do not think I could ever go in with a different mindset. I think that is what got us into the Premier League.
The last season was the hardest challenge, where we probably looked at the team and thought ‘we have gone away from what we want to be’, and that was a really tough season.
Howe on… The reasons behind Bournemouth’s relegation
We just lost our zip a little bit. There are various reasons for that, it was a combination; a lot of injuries, all through the team, and when you lose your best players, as well-documented this season with the amount of injuries in the Premier League, your team gets harmed.
I think that is then what got harmed for us was confidence levels. If you do not go out into every game thinking you are going to win, or believing you can win, that is when there is trouble for your team. That’s where we were last year I think, the ability of the team was never in question, it was just we could not get our best team on the pitch.
Howe on… Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool
This was a bizarre game because for 60 minutes, we were disappointing. I thought Liverpool were excellent, this was the start of Liverpool becoming what they are now. Divock Origi’s goal was an unbelievable finish, from an incredible angle, and I remember thinking it was going to be a difficult day.
But what I always remember from this game is despite not thinking we played particularly well was the spirit of the team and of the players, was just incredible. We’d had that in the Championship, never-say-die attitude, never quit, we can do anything against any type of opposition in front of us, we are never dead in any game, it was still here.
Direct, brave players willing to take people on, and the crowd are in the game – it’s a tight pitch, you can forget how important the crowd were to us. It’s a game that will live long in the memory because of who we were playing, but just the attitude; it’s the attitude which got us to the Premier League, from the staff to the players, and that summed it up perfectly.
Howe on… Leaving Bournemouth
It definitely was not the way I wanted it to end, but it was probably the only way it could end. I was so attached to the club, loved it with every fibre of my body, but I just felt it was the right thing to do for the club, to leave. The energy involved, the time that I was there, to get the club to where it was and keep it there, it takes an incredible amount out of you.
I think [it was best] for everyone involved, with the quick turnaround of the season, to let the club go in a new direction.
Howe on… Adjusting to life outside management
It took me a long time. I found it emotionally so difficult in the first few weeks, because your every day is your love of the club, the job, the players, the staff, and then it’s cut and you have no contact with anyone.
You can’t, you have to let the club go in a different direction. You have got to let Jason manage a new team with his staff, and you cannot interfere with that. From every day to nothing is mentally a very difficult one to adjust to.
Howe on… What’s next?
I made my decision for the best interests of Bournemouth and myself. I wanted to be at home and be with my family, to see my kids grow up, I wanted to learn and develop my knowledge and abilities as a manager.
Then, if I decide to get back in, if I am lucky enough to get given an opportunity, I will do that. But for me, I do not want to get back in just for the sake of it, it would have to be something that really motivated me.
It’s difficult with lockdown, my options of what I imagined I might be able to do are gone in terms of watching other people work, and travelling round the world gaining knowledge and improving myself. It’s a pretty lonely existence in terms of doing that at home, reading, I have always been very interested in any way of bettering myself whether that’s as a person or looking at football.
Howe on… The hardest aspects of management
The consistent battle you face is to get your team, all 25 players in your squad, to be motivated. To play for the team, not to play for themselves, to keep them with the same idea that the team has to win at all costs.
That’s a difficult balancing act, every player within that team has their own dreams, aims, ambitions, motivations, and you have then got outside influences, the media, agents, it’s difficult. But that exists every day, even on a Sunday when you might not be in with the players. Your mind every day is with the players – are they okay, is there anything I can do to help them? With your staff too, in that constant battle to improve.
We had that, that thirst from everybody to improve, and it stood us in really good stead.
Howe on… What makes a great manager?
You have to be really adaptable. You have to be able to change your mood, your behaviour in an instant. One minute you might be with a player, then you might be in front of the media, you might have contrasting moods but you cannot show them.
In some senses you have to control your emotions really well, and also have a deep intellect to be able to be one step ahead of problems you may see coming before they come.