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Eddie Howe: How Bournemouth rise will help with Newcastle’s Premier League survival

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports’ Patrick Davison, Eddie Howe explains how his rise with Bournemouth from the cusp of liquidation to the Premier League can help aid Newcastle’s current relegation fight.

It’s the now well-told tale and one of football’s more endearing stories. In January 2008, Bournemouth were bottom of League Two, riddled with debts that saw them deducted 17 points, leaving the club ten points adrift of safety.

With a mighty task to keep the club in the Football League and avoid going out of business, the Cherries appointed a fresh-faced Howe. A club legend who had come through the Bournemouth academy and went on to wear the captain’s armband, Howe had very little management experience.

Reflecting on that time, Howe told Davison ahead of Newcastle’s match against Leicester, live on Super Sunday: “I’m at friends house for a New Years Eve party, nothing too crazy. I get a phone call, it’s a bad line, bad reception, it’s a broken conversation. But basically I heard the words ‘managers job, do you want it?’. I thought it was a bit of a joke at the time because I didn’t feel like I was even in line for it.

“Then in the following conversation, I knew it was real and a wonderful opportunity in a really tough situation. The unique thing about this situation I was told, was that if the club gets relegated, it will probably fold forever. That’s not really a situation you want to be faced with, a club you’ve supported and had a great journey with to that point.

“It was a very unique situation and a very pressurised environment. But eventually, when I accepted the position, I felt like it was something we couldn’t fail with, we had to make it work.

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Eddie Howe helped take Bournemouth from League Two to the Premier League over two spells at the club

“When you’re in it, you have to believe that you’re capable of delivering what the club needs and I thought I was capable of doing it. That was an interesting dynamic. I think the points deduction and everything that was chucked at the club at the time, it was a really tough situation because even if we survived, there was no guarantee that the club would survive.

“Bailiffs were arriving every couple of days to take stuff away from the club, to lock stuff up because they hadn’t paid the debts. Players weren’t sure if they were getting paid or when they were getting paid so it really was a bleak situation.

“But amongst all of that, the most important thing for me was the players and making sure we trained well and they were united in the fight and realised the importance of the situation. Thankfully, due to the group of players we had, they were incredible in being resilient and rising to the challenge that we faced.”

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While his current club Newcastle are not in such dire straits, they do face their own relegation battle. After winning their first Premier League game of the season last weekend, they sit 19th in the table on goal difference, joint on ten points with Norwich and Burnley either side. Safety is just three points away.

Bournemouth secured their League Two survival by beating Grimsby on the final day of the season, which Howe now reflects as the catalyst for the Cherries’ incredible rise to the Premier League in the subsequent years.

“I think the principles behind what we need to do are absolutely the same,” Howe said. “The circumstances are slightly different – there are things you can draw parallels from, there are things that are slightly different – but the principles are the same.

“We need to unite the club in the fight that we face ahead of us. I think we’ve made really good steps towards doing that, the feeling around the club and the group of players is getting stronger, but we know there are many twists and turns ahead.

“At the time, you never know what the future holds so you’re just living in that moment. At the Grimsby game, I remember being very emotional. We had achieved our aim and the club was hopefully going to be safe for the foreseeable future.

“It was an unbelievable end to a story that could have gone either way but ended up probably in the way, in my dreams, I’d imagined it could go. It was the catalyst, but at the time we didn’t see that. We had so many battles ahead of us and it’s only when you look back now and see the whole journey, it wouldn’t have happened without the first step.

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“I then think there’s parallels to Newcastle, we saw that with new ownership, a new regime and we’re taking the first steps to a new era.

“Experience in football management is very important. At Bournemouth, the almost lack of knowledge I had really helped me in that moment because I took every challenge on the chin, brushed it off and went again so the inexperience helped. Here I am now, many years later in a slightly similar league position, and I have to try and use the experiences I had, the things that worked and hopefully that can play a big part in what we do next.”


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Howe also used a range of team building activities to buoy his Bournemouth side – go-karting, orienteering, paintballing and utilising the town’s famous beach. But would the same techniques work with a Premier League club in 2021?

“I think we’re in different times in the sense that Covid is a big barrier for us. Having just arrived at the club, we have to prioritise the football, in terms of making the team stronger in how we want to play. There’s a time and a place for uniting the team in a different way and giving them a different focus. We probably haven’t reached that point yet, it’s something we definitely will do.”

‘I have to prove myself at Newcastle’

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Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe says the supporters will play a big part in their battle to avoid relegation

While Howe’s body of work at Bournemouth speaks for itself, any Newcastle manager comes under intense scrutiny from the club’s passionate fanbase. It is a pressure that Howe is hoping to channel into any survival push as he gets to know his new supporters.

He reflected: “For me, it’s about tapping into the strengths that the club have. For me, the supporters are a huge strength and it’s about sharing those moments together.

“They don’t know me that well, but I think they want to see from me is do I care? Am I involved in the process, am I involved in the future of the club? I need to share that with them and I think those moments are key because I need to prove myself to the supporters, prove my work is good and prove how much I care about what I’m doing. Hopefully by those moments, they see that.

“When you’re in management, you have to prove yourself over and over again. That never changes and never stops. In football management, you’re having to stay alive in the job and you’re looking forward to every challenge you have in front of you.

“Now I’m starting from zero at a new club, I’ve got it all to prove. It’s more about how you go about the job in terms of the care, what you’re willing to do for your new club and I’m willing to give everything. I’ve got to show that to everyone here.

Whoever we play in the Premier League, we have to prepare to win and we will do that. These are a very difficult group of games and I know it’s a cliché, but we just have to focus on one and the next one is Leicester. It’s a tough game, away from home so it’ll be really difficult. But if we can bring the mentality we showed in our two previous home games, I think we have a chance.

Eddie Howe on facing Leicester on Super Sunday

“I think the beauty of coming into a new club is you’re not seeing the past, you’re seeing the now. I tired to discount everything that had gone before – not in terms of the players performances because I’d watched a lot of the games back and made assessments of what I’d seen.

“Having that information is really important for where I want to take the team, but not letting the legacy of what’s gone on before influence my decision-making and my opinions.

“I tried not to focus too much on the past, I don’t see how that’s going to help me or the players I have, so it was very much a positive outlook towards the future and how we’re going to play instead of looking back.”

With new owners and seemingly limitless funds, there is plenty of speculation of which superstars could join Newcastle in January. During Bournemouth’s League Two survival, the winter transfer window was vital for the remainder of season.

However, Howe is confident that even if no signings are made at Newcastle, his current group of players can survive the drop.

“The most important thing is the players we have here currently that are contracted to the club,” he said. “They are the people who will ultimately dictate what happens from here onwards.

“I can’t make that point strongly enough – the unity and the spirit that the players have within themselves, between us and the supporters is a key factor. With other players coming in January, it is not in any way my main focus and neither should it be at this present time.

“The difference when you look at the two situations is that Bournemouth had a huge pool to pick from. If you look at the amount of players you can recruit for League Two – we had financial restrictions and were signing players for free – but the pool of players is much bigger.

Newcastle's Eddie Howe gestures from the touchline
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Eddie Howe is not focused on January recruitment just yet

“When you go to the Premier League, the pool is a lot smaller, a lot more expensive and a lot harder to do, especially at this time of year.

“So I don’t know at this moment in time if we can look at this market as our point of reference to go ‘that’s going to make the difference’. I think the difference and with the quality we’ve got, it has to come from our own squad first and if we can help the group, then we will look to do so but I don’t think there’s any guarantee at this moment.

“I believe they can [beat relegation] and I think if we unite together and give everything on the pitch in every training session and every game and fight for the future of the club in the short term future in the Premier League, then I think we can do it.

“That’s my gut feeling and my feeling on the situation currently. If we can add help then great, if we can’t then I’m more than happy to go into the battle ahead with the players we have.”

Whoever may join the club over the next six weeks, Howe is solely focused on pushing Newcastle up the Premier League table despite ambitious aims from the club’s new owners.

Former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe (centre) pictured with Newcastle owner Amanda Staveley at the Amex Stadium in Brighton
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Eddie Howe says the new Newcastle owners have welcomed him into the club

“There’s certainly a massive future for the club,” Howe concluded. “I think the aims and dreams of the people running the club are big and rightly so.

“I can’t compliment the people above me enough in terms of my dealings with everybody. They’ve been brilliant in terms of things we’ve needed and trying to help us settle in and attack the job in the best way possible.

“This season is very important in terms of time because the dream is to get the club where they want to be as quickly as possible. But everything that lays ahead is in the future, we have to deal with the now and that is getting the very best out of the players we have, who I’ve really enjoyed working with.

“I can’t compliment the players enough for what they’ve given me so far and how we’ve interacted together. So the future will take care of itself if we can deal with the now.”

Watch the Premier League clash between Leicester vs Newcastle live on Super Sunday on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm; kick-off 2pm.

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