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Cherries on top as Howe's rise continues

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Paul Fletcher | 22:35 UK time, Saturday, 24 April 2010

At the Pirelli Stadium.

"Novices cannot be trusted with the recovery," suggested one of Britain's leading politicians on television the other day.

Try telling that to supporters of Bournemouth, who are managed by 32-year-old Eddie Howe and secured promotion to League One on Saturday with their deserved 2-0 victory at the Pirelli Stadium in Burton.

The final whistle sparked scenes of jubilation as the Cherries celebrated their first promotion since 2003 and only the fifth in the club's history. A good-natured and most definitely old-skool pitch invasion took place as delirious supporters engulfed their heroes.

The promoted players eventually made their way up towards the modest directors area so that all the fans on the pitch could see them. I was sat yards away trying to finish my match report when I finally realised that I was about to disappear under a mass of celebrating, sweaty bodies.

I have never been fearful of happiness before but when substitute Alan Connell climbed on the flimsy wooden bench supporting my laptop and started jumping around I knew it was time to leave the party to its main participants.

And there is no doubt that everyone connected with Bournemouth has the right to celebrate the staggering, almost incomprehensible transformation that has taken place since Howe was first approached to become manager on New Years Eve 2008.

The Cherries were 10 points adrift of safety back then and even though local-lad Howe had always been a popular figure at Dean Court, I reckon his promotion from boss of the centre of excellence did not inspire thoughts of a great escape.

Bournemouth celebrateThe Cherries celebrate their promotion. Photo: PA

It didn't start well either as Howe's two games in temporary charge ended in defeat, yet the new manager inspired an up-turn in form that ensured his side finished the season five points clear of the drop zone.

A transfer embargo ensured the Cherries started the current season restricted to 20 professionals.

And a steady succession of injuries quickly made light of those scant resources, to the extent that Bournemouth's campaign is undoubtedly a story of success in the face of adversity by a group of players that refused to make an excuse of the obstacles in their way.

Saturday's match was just the ninth time this season that Howe has been able to name a full bench of seven players; often he has only been able to select three or four.

Assistant boss Jason Tindall, twice retired, has been called back into action and numerous players have been asked to play out of position. Liam Feeney has battled through most of the campaign despite carrying a muscle strain.

Several times Howe has been unsure whether talented teenager Jayden Stockley would be available because of the young striker's school commitments as he works towards his GCSE exams.

Bournemouth have not signed any players permanently since the January 2009 transfer window and the Football League has restricted them to three emergency loans during the current season. One of those - goalkeeper Marek Stech - made his only appearance in the 5-0 defeat at Morecambe.

The efforts of chairman Eddie Mitchell, who missed Saturday's match after being stranded abroad by the current flight chaos, led to the transfer embargo being relaxed in late March but that happened too late to have any impact on this season.

Brett Pitman's goals have been vital to Bournemouth's campaign. He scored his 27th on Saturday with a superbly taken second-half strike. Danny Hollands, the next highest scorer, has just seven and the fact that Pitman has missed just one game all season has undoubtedly been a crucial factor in their promotion.

I was very impressed with midfielder Marvin Bartley against the Brewers, while Shwan Jalal made a save of rare quality with the match evenly poised in the first half. Skipper Jason Pearce, 22, is the essence of commitment and it is clear that the Cherries do not lack quality.

When Howe was interviewed on Saturday he was quick to deflect the plaudits on to his squad. The gist of his argument is that you don't win things without good players.

But as Pitman acknowledged it is basically the same squad as last season's strugglers that has won promotion this term - and for this reason huge credit must go to Howe.

Pitman is one of many to have compared Howe to former boss Sean O'Driscoll. Both are intelligent men and are very thorough in their preparation.

Cherries legend Steve Fletcher, who was brought back to the club by Howe, six years his junior, in January 2009, told me: "Eddie's feet are on the ground and he is so level headed - I think he has a great personality for a manager.

"As a close friend of his I know he is very passionate. I have seen the preparation and the effort that he puts in to his job."

After Bournemouth's second goal at Burton just about everyone connected with the club seemed lost in a moment of ecstasy.

All, that is, except Howe, who afforded himself a smile and scratched an itch at the back of his head. It was an act of almost impossible cool. I was staggered that he could keep his emotions so well contained.

It was the same before the match as he sat casually in the dug-out as his players went through their warm-up routines. Ditto afterwards as he shook supporters hands and answered questions from the media.

Standing in his technical area during the game in his casual sports gear, Howe seemed to be without a care in the world; like someone who stumbled across a game of park football as he took a stroll and decided to watch for a few minutes.

Yet his achievement in steering the Cherries to promotion this season cannot be put down as a fluke. It is the product of hard work, dedication and a style of man-management that has ensured his group of players will run through walls for him.

After the game he was keen to stress that he would be at the club next season. That must come as a huge relief to all associated with the club because I reckon that he is undoubtedly the manager of the year in the Football League.

There are plenty of other worthy contenders - Chris Hughton, Paul Lambert and Keith Hill spring to mind - but what Howe has done in the face of huge adversity is extraordinary.

I just hope that a man with such an even temperament is able to let himself go and bask in his success for a little while.

You can follow me throughout the season at twitter.com/Paul__Fletcher

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for finally commenting on The Cherries' fantastic achievements - it felt like you were missing them out when you talked about Rochdale being 'the real success story' earlier in the week. Perhaps you like to wait until promotion is secured before singing the praises of a club?

    Anyway, just one thing around the context of this season compared to last: are you aware that they began last season on -17 points due to being in administration? Yes, they still had to fight like a relegation-dogged side in 2008/09 in order to stay up, but their points were good enough to make them mid-table fodder, not strugglers, and this season they have built on that.

  • Comment number 2.

    To be fair Bournemouth have had a lot of media attention this season! Brilliant season, best ever!

  • Comment number 3.

    Great going by the cherries. Look forward to next season for a south coast derby. :)

  • Comment number 4.

    Howe is manager of the year, nothing more to say.

  • Comment number 5.

    Brilliant achievement by every player, staff, supporter and Board of the Cherries. Total teamwork all season in the face of adversity.
    Started on negative points, no money, embargo all season, NEVER gave up hope.
    Agree, NO-ONE comes close to Eddie Howe, who deserves to be Manager of the Season across all leagues this season

  • Comment number 6.

    Good blog Paul, nice to see Bournemouth getting the credit they finally deserve. In my opinion Eddie Howe has easily been the best manager in the Footbll league during this roller-coaster of a season. Whereas Paul Lambet and Chris Hughton took over squads full of players who should have argueably been in a higher league Howe took over a struggling squad o players and instilled confidence and energy into the team, and what a big effect that has had!
    My only criticism of your blog is your glorifying of Brett Pittman as though Bournemouth are a one man team. Pitman often has many of his goals set up for him by Steve Fletcher who I'm sure many will say is a brilliant target man, at the end of he day victories by Bournemouth are a team effort- not a one man effort.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks for the commments.

    Rigler - got it in one. Don't want you thinking for a moment that I was ignoring your club. I've upset enough League Two fans already this week. Yep, I did know about the minus 17 situation but you still had a poor first half to last season and what Howe has done is little short of amazing.

    Ed Fellows - As if I'd ever try to play down the role of Super Fletch! That said, you'd have to admit that the Cherries have gone up despite scoring a modest number of goals - especially at home - and without Pitman it might have been a different story. However, in no way are they are one-man team.

    When I spoke to Pitman yesterday he was of the mindset that he might have a hangover today.

  • Comment number 8.

    Ed please say you're joking. I agree it has been a brilliant team effort this season, with Jalal, Robinson and Garry particularly, being unsung heroes. However, Pitman does deserve to be glorified. Scoring almost half our team's league goals is an incredible achievement, and without him I doubt we would be celebrating today. Putting that in context, James Hayter scored just 10 league goals last time we were in League 2, playing in a team that included Wade Elliot, Gareth O'Connor, Brian Stock and, yes, Steve Fletcher.
    So yes the team as a whole deserve all the plaudits and more, but it's time that Pitman got the adulation he has earned for his efforts.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm a Bournemouth exile and haven't been to Dean Court for nearly 10 years but last night I was as proud a Cherry as any. Indeed I brewed myself a hot cup of cocoa, poured it into my "Third Division Champions 1987" mug (I have an 8 week old son so booze is out of the question at the moment!) and toasted our valiant heroes.

    What makes the achievement even more remarkable is that the club had been given a points deduction by the Football League for the previous two seasons (10 and 17 points respectively). Many clubs would have either folded or simply tumbled into the Unibond but something special has happened on the south coast - a collective will from players, fans, coaches and, yes, the money men.

    I just hope Leeds fail to win promotion to the Championship so that we can punish them for their sins against us!

  • Comment number 10.

    @B Yeah, sorry after reading my first post back I realised I was a bit harsh on Pittman who has been absolutely fantastic for Bournemouth- his eye for goals added with his loyalty toward club is something that other team's fans can only dream for in a striker! Congratulations to the whole team on a truely magnificent season- I'm sure they'll be able to carry it on into League one.

  • Comment number 11.

    Great to see a story like this, well done to Bournemouth. I think its right they were not allowed to buy players, given the financial problems but it shows you can still go on. Pompey could learn a thing or 7 from Bournemouth.

  • Comment number 12.

    Brilliant achievement from Eddie Howe and the team. It all looked so bleak a year ago. I hope next season in League One, now the embargo has gone, Eddie will be able to call on old friends Harry Redknapp and Kevin Bond and get a couple of Spurs' excellent crop of youngsters on loan for the season, much like Yeovil have done this year.

  • Comment number 13.

    They should have brought back ted McDougall to give Pittman a rest now and then.

  • Comment number 14.

    Quite an amazing feat for an amazing team lead by a brilliant manager. Come on your cherries.

  • Comment number 15.

    Well done Bournemouth!

    You deserve the promotion more than most this season, i hope you make a really good fight of it in League 1, see you next season :)

  • Comment number 16.

    As a long term Bournemouth supporter (unfortunately from afar these days even though I was born near to Dean Park), I follow their activities from Washington DC, where I am now. Unfortunately, BBC doesnt allow feeds here so I never see the guys playing. The last time I saw the Cherries in the flesh as it were, was when Defoe was playing and my wife (from Somalia) sat with me and watched her first game ever. She was amused by the expression 'big girl's blouse' but I failed to tell her what it meant..but it must be important if the North Stand supporters use it. Hey, I am old enough to remember Reg Cutler breaking the post at Wolves and actually saw the Cherries beat Manchester United 2-1. What a great job Mr Howe has done..I am telling all my friends about the great achievement here in the US, but they look blankly and fire back with stories of the Washington Capitals and the Redskins - I dont even know what games these latter play but they all wear RED, so they cant be too bad!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Absolutely incredible season, what Eddie Howe has done is nothing short of a miracle. We have had a long overdue slice of good fortune in regards to injuries to our small squad, and I hope we can use this momentum to stay in League 1 next year and maybe, just maybe, BUY A PLAYER!

  • Comment number 18.

    Like Michael Hopkins, I am an exiled Cherries fan. His post brought back a host of memories, as the cup tie against Wolves (third in the old 1st Division at the time) was the first away game I was allowed to go to in my teens. Reg Cutler not only famously broke the post on that occasion, but scored the winning goal. Cutler was previously not always a favourite at Dean Court, his nickname 'the weasel' applied only semi-affectionately. That victory of course laid the door open for a cup run that saw Spurs (2nd in Div 1) beaten and Bournemouth lose only to a Man U (top of Div 1) goal that is still disputed to this day.

    Once a Cherries fan, always a Cherries fan and I've followed avidly all the ups (mostly) and downs of an amazing season. Here's to Eddie Howe and the lads who have given so much effort. Sadly, I can't get the locals to take much notice; they're mostly Lyon fans who have other things on their mind at present...

  • Comment number 19.

    I still can't figure out how Chris Hughton did so well. He was manager of Newcastle twice in the premiership and did terribly. He has done amazing in the Championship.

  • Comment number 20.

    Morning.

    I see that no Bournemouth players made the League Two PFA team of the year. Three from Rochdale, Rotherham and Notts County make up the bulk of the side.

    Do you agree with that - or is someone like Pitman unlucky not to have made the cut?

    I certainly know who I think should be in charge of the side.

  • Comment number 21.

    The thing is that "big names" (if there is such a thing in our league), such as Hughes and Le Fondre who each had fairly high profile moves, were always going to get more of the limelight than Brett. The bigger surprise for me is that Jason Pearce and Shwan Jalal were overlooked, they've been magnificent all season. Likewise Liam Feeney, who shredded so many teams particularly early on in the season. Still, in a way its a backhanded complement to how we work as a team, we're greater than the sum of our individual parts

  • Comment number 22.

    I am another Cherries fan in exile but catch games whenever I am back visiting - amazing achievement Eddie and the boys - both staying up last year and getting promotion this year. We almost won promotion 2 years ago after that amazing run at the end of the year of 10 wins or so before the ridiculous punishment from the Football League. I also would love a game with Leeds again, even more than Sthampton, a chance to right some wrongs. I will be wearing my Cherries shirt proudly around Tokyo this weekend - only problem is its the red and black stripped one (please use that again) and often mistaken for AC Milan!

  • Comment number 23.

    The fact that Howe has turned an under-achieving team into promotion winners speaks volumes about his ability, but also says a lot about how poor a manager Jimmy Quinn was before him! He was definitely the most pessimistic manager I've known and this must have caused motivation issues. Kevin Bond before him was not great either!

  • Comment number 24.

    Lefty32- what about Marvin Bartley? I thought he was superb on Sunday and looked like a midfielder who can definitely play at a higher level.

  • Comment number 25.

    As a Shrewsbury fan, well done and congratulations. Howe's done a fantastic job on really limited resources and deserves manager of the season. Was hoping you guys would see it out and secure promotion.

    And as a spurs fan also, I'm pretty sure harry would have liked to have loaned you a couple of players this season, but definately will next if the embargo's out of the way

  • Comment number 26.

    My first game watching Bournemouth was in 1974 when I saw a youthful team with players like Kevin Reeves, Mark Nightingale and Howard Goddard destroy C Palace 4-0. I was hooked for the next 10 years commuting from London for every home game. I am now exiled luckily in Staffordshire so was able to go along and see the game on Saturday. I thought the team were magnificent, the supporters brilliant and would just like to say well done to everyone involved with AFCB and especially to Eddie Howe who must be manager of the year by far.

  • Comment number 27.

    No 21 - Cannot believe we didn't get a single player in the PFA team. I thought Pearce or Garry were nailed on but well put Lefty, being a 'team' is what has seen us through.
    No 24 - Paul; Marvin has been a revelation as the season has gone on. The lad has jst got better with every game.
    Not sure if your reference to Stockley was a typo or lazy jounalism - It's Jayden, not Jordan...........Am i seeing things? Have you coreected it now because i was sure it said Jordan earlier when i first read this? Maybe the hazy head i've still got from the party hangover clouded my vision...
    Other than that Paul i thought this was a good blog. Nice that someone in the media has given us a high profile. Shame a few more didn't highlight our plight when we had only a half fit team to pick from a while back.
    Still, the battle through the adversity makes the triumph so much sweeter!!! I hope Mawhinney and the gin swillers had a good weekend looking at the table - Wonder what they'll have up their sleeves for us next year? 20 pt deduction because we've only got 3 stands? Or maybe another transfer embargo because we have better weather down here than most? - God, It feels so good to be a Cherry - UTCIAD!!

  • Comment number 28.

    On top of everything else, I reckon Bournemouth played the best football in our div this season, far better than Dale or Notts Co.

    I just wish my club [Vale] had the guts to keep faith in a young manager with roots at the club instead of a cynical seen-it-all before type like Adams who will jump ship as soon as the going gets tough.

  • Comment number 29.

    But Richard (post 28) - aren't you heading for the play-offs?

  • Comment number 30.

    I agree Paul, Marvin has been sensational recently, but wasn't in the team at all for the first half of the season. It's been since Eddie's gutsy move to play him at Centre Back that he's really come to life, definetly one to watch in the coming years. His style of play is similar to Patrick Viera in that he gets through an amazing amount of work, enjoys the physical element and is prone to lung busting runs into the corners simply to provide an out ball for the rest of the team. But as it's supposed to be the team of the whole season, Marvin probably didn't quite play enough of it for a look in, and he had about 6/7 games in a position that isn't where he normally plays, so it would've been tough to pick him.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm intrigued, what have Leeds done to Bournemouth in the past?

  • Comment number 32.

    Congratulations, Bournemouth have deserved this off a shoestring budget and the embargo, Howe has been a miracle worker. I really hope you can do well in League 1 next year, though not at the expense of Notts (obviously).

    With regards to the team of the year, I'm not surprised Schmeichel got in as keeper, he has been fantastic but he was also the most well-publicised in the league, too giving him that advantage. I'm not sure anyone could begrudge Davies or Hughes their place in the side. I'm not sure Nicky Law really deserved it over Bishop though, who in my opinion has been our best performer this season.

  • Comment number 33.

    Oh, and Mr Fletcher...

    "I've upset enough League Two fans already this week"

    yes, you have.

  • Comment number 34.

    MagpieSean - I really didn't think I was having a pop at Notts, just talking up Rochdale. Obviously a fair few did not see it that way.

  • Comment number 35.

    31. At 3:11pm on 26 Apr 2010, Abhammer wrote:
    I'm intrigued, what have Leeds done to Bournemouth in the past?

    Just a few things.

    Relegated AFCB to the old Div 3 on the last day of the season.
    Orchestrated a massive riot in the Dean Court car park causing damage and personal injury, the scars of which I still carry to this day.
    Wrecking parts of the pitch and the ground resulting in thousands of pounds worth of damage. Continuing to riot in the town centre throughout the evening, again causing injury and damage to innocent passers-by and businesses.

    Some of us will not forget that disgraceful day.

    Nuff Said !

  • Comment number 36.

    Really? Doesn't sound like Leeds at all!

    Well done on the promotion by the way. I assumed you'd fall away with your squad restrictions but you sure proved me wrong.

    Best of luck for league 1 next year.

  • Comment number 37.

    What did Leeds do to Bournemouth, the town and the people?

    Follow this link for footage - http://www.football-hooligans.org/leeds-united-service-crew.html

    Yes it was a long time ago, but it was terrible.

  • Comment number 38.

    Yep 1990 was a black day. Funnily enough all my dealings with Leeds since then - including going up there to watch us play, have been fine - they seem generally to be a decent bunch.

    With regards to the player of the year - perhaps no one has been absolutely top drawer all season, a few blips etc...ours has been a real team effort though.

  • Comment number 39.

    29. At 1:32pm on 26 Apr 2010, Paul Fletcher wrote:
    But Richard (post 28) - aren't you heading for the play-offs?

    Don't worry, Paul, it's all part of our masterplan. Getting into the play-offs will generate a bit more money for us, but we won't win them; good job, too, as we'd sink like a stone if we actually got promoted & probably end up in the conference.

  • Comment number 40.

    I was impressed with a trialist named "Jack" a tall and composed centre half who played in the Res's home game against Swindon (lost 2-1)
    Not seen or heard of him since, come from a Kentish club

  • Comment number 41.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

 

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