Credit: Ardfern/ CC BY-SA
Recently there have been strong links between Eddie Howe and Celtic Football Club, as the next manager of the club. Everyone knows him as the last Bournemouth manager, but who is he? And would he be a good fit at Celtic?
Edward John Frank Howe, Eddie Howe, is touted to be Celtic’s next manager, and he has done a sound job throughout his career, especially at Bournemouth, although Howe left the club at the end of last season following relegation. Ignoring that, Howe took the club from 92nd/92nd in the football league to the pinnacle of football, the Premier League!
“File:King’s Park, AFC Bournemouth – geograph.org.uk – 638680.jpg” by Chris Downer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
As a player, Eddie Howe was a tidy defender who read the game well – he was never a wonderful player but was solid and knew football like the back of his hand, and spent most of his career at the Cherries as a player, making England u21 appearances whilst he was at the club. Howe also had brief spells at Portsmouth and Swindon that didn’t really work out, but his true home was Bournemouth, as a player and then a manager!
To start his management career, he was hired by AFC Bournemouth in 2008, and stayed at the club for 3 years until 2011, featuring a promotion to EFL League One, where Howe’s Bournemouth were flying, finishing 11th and then 6th! After this stint at Bournemouth, Howe went to Burnley, where he spent just one season, finishing 11th. Following this, Howe went home again where he truly came into his own. In his first season back at the club they were still where he left them, in League One, and in his first season he led them to promotion to the Championship – their first season in the second tier in their history! In his first season in the Championship, Howe’s Bournemouth finished and impressive 10th, a solid season for a newly promoted team.
After that, Howe’s finest managerial achievement came to be, when his Bournemouth side won the Championship and were in the Premier League for the first time ever! The Cherries did an impressive job in the promised land despite very limited resources, finishing 9th in their second season, and they lasted a decent 5 seasons in the Premier League, before narrowly getting relegated in the 2019-20 season.
On his philosophy though, Howe played what has been described as a “Modern 4-4-2” by some, playing your average, solid back four to solidify their defence, spearheaded by current Man City player Nathan Ake (That position would likely be Ajer at Celtic) alongside 3 other steady, ball playing defenders.
In the midfield, he used a sitting midfielder that was Jefferson Lerma towards the end of his tenure, who would sit between the defence and midfield and break up the play and then dictate the tempo – usually quite low at Bournemouth, to facilitate their patient, well forged attacks. Aswell as this, Howe would utilise two wide players (In his final season these positions were normally occupied by Harry Wilson and Ryan Fraser) who could do a job as ‘Traditional’ wingers, hugging the touch line, crossing, etc. Or could be ‘Inverted wingers’, meaning that they would operate in spaces further into the middle of the pitch, in positions such as these (see below), to find space in between the lines and then either take the shot on, or play the ball through to one of two attackers.
In the front two, there are two very distinct roles for Bournemouth. The two attackers that were famously killed used were Callum Wilson and Josh King, who played very well together! King would almost operate as a ’10’ sometimes, dropping very deep into the midfield and hold the ball up, creating space for the other attackers to run into, in a role that is similar to that of a False 9. On the other hand, Callum Wilson would be the archetypal ‘Pressing forward’, think Jamie Vardy. Running in behind, 1 on 1s, applying pressure to defenders etc, which works very well in a two with a F9, almost the modern equivalent of a ‘Big man, little man’ combo, relying less on height and more on technique and fitness.
One of Eddie Howe’s strengths was how well he did on limited budget – which would be especially useful in a pandemic and beyond. In his time at Bournemouth he rarely splurged his cash on players, maybe until the club got a big influx of cash nearer the end of his time at the club (Think Lerma, Danjuma.) and you could even say he worked better with limited resources!
His potential appointment has divided the fan base as all managerial appointments do, although on the whole the reception looks more positive than negative, I would love to hear what Celtic fans think!