Eddie Howe: Bournemouth boss recalls 'night the town united' and overcoming his hardest season

Sky Sports exclusive: Eddie Howe reflects on the fifth anniversary of Bournemouth's promotion to the Premier League and future plans

Eddie Howe
Image: Eddie Howe's Bournemouth secured promotion to the Premier League in 2015

April 27, 2015 is a day fans of AFC Bournemouth will never forget. Or night, to be more precise.

Back then, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, Eddie Howe stood arms folded in the home dug-out watching his side all but secure promotion to the Premier League with a 3-0 cruise past 10-man Bolton at a rocking Goldsands Stadium.

It wasn't mathematically confirmed, but the celebrations at the full-time whistle reflected an outpouring of emotion that the most remarkable journey from administration in League Two to the Premier League had been completed.

The Cherries are now an established top-flight outfit and it is hard to believe now they nearly went out of business in February 2008 as they struggled to survive in League One.

Callum Wilson was on the scoresheet during the 3-0 win over Bolton
Image: Callum Wilson was on the scoresheet during the 3-0 win over Bolton

Howe's path to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp started a lot earlier than this week five years ago, of course, with his first stint in charge coming midway through the 2008/09 season with the club 10 points adrift of safety.

But recalling the win over Bolton to secure a third promotion in six seasons, the Bournemouth manager admits he remembers very little of the game itself.

"I can't believe it's five years ago, already," Howe told Sky Sports. "That's how quick time goes. My memories of that night were just feeling we had to win. There was no other route or way the game was ending.

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"It was one of those nights when it just felt it was now or never, and the players responded brilliantly.

Chairman Jeff Mostyn revelled in the carnival atmosphere on an unforgettable night
Image: Chairman Jeff Mostyn revelled in the atmosphere on an unforgettable night

"I don't actually remember too much about the game, but more what happened afterwards with the way the supporters celebrated. The town really united and the changing room reaction I remember fondly too with the chairman [Jeff Mostyn] coming in.

"They were brilliant moments that we'll remember forever."

A point at Charlton would have mathematically secured their place in the Premier League. Only a fantastical final-day scenario of a defeat at The Valley and a win for closest rivals Middlesbrough at Brighton with a 19-goal swing would have denied the Cherries.

As it was, Bournemouth cruised to another 3-0 win to pip Watford to the title, the side who now sit directly above them in the Premier League courtesy of a marginally superior goal difference.

Bournemouth secured the title at Charlton, where Charlie Daniels featured
Image: Bournemouth secured the title at Charlton, where Charlie Daniels featured

Howe added: "I can't quite remember what the goal difference was, but it was a huge number. Even the pessimist in me was thinking, 'could we throw it away from this position?'

"We went to Charlton and I remember that game really well because I thought that was one of our best performances of the season. We were brilliant that day, and all our confidence came out in the performance.

"We managed to win the league as well which was just the perfect ending to what was an amazing season for us."

In Bournemouth's starting line-up that day were Artur Boruc, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Andrew Surman and Callum Wilson - all of whom remain at the club - while Adam Smith and Dan Gosling were used substitutes.

Junior Stanislas and Ryan Fraser also featured that season meaning that 10 of Howe's promotion-winning squad are still on the club's books.

Bournemouth have risen through the divisions under Howe's stewardship
Image: Bournemouth have risen through the divisions under Howe's stewardship

"It's been really important for us that we've had a number of players who've come right the way through from League One to the Premier League," he said.

"It's a brilliant story for the club but also for them, and I've seen first-hand how hard they've worked, how dedicated they've been to football, how much they've improved individually.

"It's been great to see them playing against the best players in the world and performing very well against them, so they understand the club and the history of the club.

"They've been able to pass on their experiences to the new generation that we're bringing through and the new players that we've signed so their experience has been key in our successes."

Those successes so far reached a peak when Bournemouth finished ninth during the 2016/17 season, but having not been involved in a relegation battle in the four previous campaigns, Howe has by his own admittance faced his toughest period in management this term.

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Howe explains why this is the most difficult season he has faced at the club

The club lost five straight games between early November and December 7 - the longest losing run of any Premier League side this season, and Howe has had to draw on all of his experience in order to steady the ship.

Prior to the break, Bournemouth secured important home victories over Brighton and Aston Villa, while there was disappointment at taking just a point from a 2-2 draw with Chelsea. So did Howe change anything to bring about a change in fortunes?

"You look at everything when the team is not playing with the rhythm that you want it to," he said.

"We stripped training right back to basics, and I think you go back to your core beliefs and to what you know works. You simplify everything for the players and try to build their confidence from that and I think that's what we tried to do.

"It took a little bit of time, but I feel we got there. The last group of performances before the season was halted were much better and much more like us.

Grounds in England will stay locked up until April 30 at the earliest
Image: Grounds in England will remain locked up, with Bournemouth currently 18th

"We're hopeful that if we can come back and play in the same type of form that we were, then we can stay in the Premier League again."

Howe is fully aware of the economic consequences the coronavirus pandemic will bring, becoming the first Premier League manager this month to take a voluntary pay cut, along with his assistant Jason Tindall.

Safeguarding the financial stability of the club is of paramount importance, and while Premier League status must be preserved in the immediate term, Howe is keeping sight of the bigger picture.

The 42-year-old believes there are two areas in particular that will need addressing.

"The ultimate aim is to build the club season upon season, building layers that we haven't had previously. We're still looking at the infrastructure of the club.

"How much this knocks those plans in terms of finance available to build the club inwardly, we'll have to wait and see. It's going to have a huge impact on football for the foreseeable future. We're going to have to adapt like every other club will.

Vitality Stadium
Image: The Vitality Stadium has a 11,450-capacity - the smallest in the top flight

"But right now, it is about preserving our Premier League status, and then growing the club so we become stronger and bigger for the long term. There's two main things to look at: one is the stadium.

"I don't feel we need a huge leap, but a gradual step forward where more people can come and watch us play. This would lead to increased revenue and all the things that would come with that.

"But secondly, and most importantly for the day-to-day work of the players, is the training ground. Getting a permanent, bigger base will be key where we can interlink all our departments so that our development squad and our youth team can be brought closer to the first team."

Howe is currently the longest-serving manager in the Premier League at over seven years, just ahead of Burnley's Sean Dyche, and it is clear he has lost no appetite for his position on the south coast and the fresh challenges it brings.

Howe joins in the celebrations on the pitch on April 27 2015
Image: Bournemouth can reflect proudly on how far they have come under Howe

"I'm not sure there's a secret to longevity as a manager in one role, but hard work is an absolute must. To do any job properly and to the best of your ability, I think you really need to dedicate yourself to it.

"I've tried to do that every day. I've tried to do the best that I can for AFC Bournemouth. I think that's vitally important - I've never worked for myself, but always for the club.

"I've just worked day to day - I haven't set out with any great plans to be here forever or for a long time; I've just tried to do my best day by day, and then seen where it would take me. That's where I currently am."

Five years on from gaining promotion, it is worth remembering just how far Bournemouth, and Howe, have come.

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