one johnny neptune

The strange case of Edward Howe

January 13, 2011

It should be being primed as a regional holiday, Tuesday 11 January. After days of frenzied speculation and hyperbole and rumour and fact disguised as guesswork Eddie Howe came out of the AFC Bournemouth board room to announce to the collection of national press and (presumably out of work) fans that he (and assistant Jason Tindall) were staying at Dean Court. The players and fans, he said, had persuaded him to stay and finish off the job he had started. Cue mass hurrahing from Boscombe fans and a probable surge in children called Ted in 9 months time.

It should have marked the next chapter in the frankly far too small book ‘How to stay loyal in modern Football’ which, at the moment, contains entries on Matt le Tissier and Ryan Giggs and not much else. It should have seen, Roy of the Rovers style, Bournemouth carrying on their current form and gaining promotion to the Championship. What it shouldn’t have done is lead to the whole charade starting again today, Thursday 13 January, with frenzied speculation and hyperbole and rumour and fact disguised as guesswork over Eddie (and Jason, they’re tied at the hip) moving to Burnley.

His words from Tuesday now seem hollow and empty. What else are we to think? Both Eddie (and Jason) have been in contact with the local press today, as has the chairman. It would be the easiest thing in the world for a statement to be released saying that there was nothing in this story, that Eddie was indeed staying put and finishing the job he began.

Because Eddie’s been here forever. He started on the terraces and has progressed through player and coach to manager. His years in the wilderness at Portsmouth were ended when a plaintive cry for help from our chairman of the time saw fans donate £15000 in 2 days to bring him back. It’s unlikely we’d have done that for any other former player, not even Christer Warren. It was EddieShare that cemented the belief that he was one of us, that there was a symbiotic relationship between him and the fans.

It may well be that he stays put and does finish the job. However, there is a groundswell of opinion amongst supporters that, given his protracted statements about staying, going for his 5th interview in under a year suggests a desire to leave at the earliest opportunity. That requesting to talk to another club two days after saying he is staying is not quite the done thing. That, frankly, Eddie may not be the man we thought he was.

But this presupposes two things.

One: there are things going on behind the scenes that are forcing him out of the club. We can only speculate on these – boardroom interference is the most likely, of course, and given public opinion of our chairman most probable.
Two: he’s had two years of solid non-stop success. Surely, he may be thinking, it’s best to get out now while his reputation is untainted rather than wait a bit longer. This upward curve cannot continue forever. Does he want his time at Dean Court to end like that of Mel Machin and Sean O’Driscoll – two other great servants of the club, who achieved great things (for a couple of years) but had the fans wishing them out before they went.

It seems odd to say that Eddie has had it easy given our well documented problems in the past 2 years but there is an argument that supports this. AFC Bournemouth has existed in a bubble of late. These problems have given the club a uniqueness that no other club can match. Relegation, administration, points deductions, embargoes have all led to the management and players developing an excellent spirit, of them against us, that has led to the complete turn-around we see today. Eddie is unlikely to find this anywhere else. He’s unlikely to get time, in the event of problems occuring, to sort them out. He’s unlikely to have support from the fans if things go wrong. But then, Brian, that’s football.

If he had left two days ago he would have gone with the supporters best wishes. To go now just seems a bit rude.

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