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Is Eddie Howe a legitimate contender for the Everton manager position?

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Is Bournemouth's Eddie Howe ready to take a step up to one of the bigger clubs in the Premier League?

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As Everton begins to wind down another disappointing season, speculation about manager, Roberto Martinez's job has begun to ramp up. The only bright spot so far from a team perspective is that Everton are waiting to play in the FA Cup Semifinal. Anything less than a trophy in that competition could spell the end of the Martinez era in Merseyside.

Next on our list of prospective managers is Bournemouth's Eddie Howe, who at 38 is one of the youngest candidates.

Experience

Howe is virtually a lifelong Cherry having spent the majority of his playing and management career at Bournemouth. At 18, Howe made his first-team debut with the club and established himself as an important defender in their lineup. He stayed with the club through the 2002 season, picking up 201 appearances and netting ten goals. Martinez's background at Swansea City is very similar to Howe's experience at Bournemouth.

In 2002, Harry Redknapp brought Howe to Portsmouth. However, success eluded him at Fratton Park as he sustained a season-ending knee injury in his debut with the club. When the next season came along, he reinjured the same knee in the opener and was out for another campaign. The following season he was sent on loan to Swindon Town and amassed zero appearances. Finally, in 2004 Portsmouth loaned Howe back to Bournemouth for three months. The loan spell was so successful that the Bournemouth fans banded together in an "Eddieshare" campaign to raise £21,000 which covered Portsmouth's transfer fee. After three seasons back in Bournemouth, Howe decided to hang up his boots and start coaching the reserves.

After his stint as reserve coach, Howe was named caretaker manager in December 2008 when Jimmy Quinn was sacked. After two matches (both losses), Howe was named as the permanent manager of the Cherries. By the end of the 2009-2010 campaign, Howe had guided Bournemouth to promotion to League One. Howe left Bournemouth for the Championship side Burnley in January 2011 after the two clubs had come to a compensation agreement. It's worth noting that Howe's move to Turf Moor only happened after Howe was pursued by several other clubs including Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic.

Like many managers, Howe did not see out the length of his contract and only spent about a year and a half at the helm n Burnley. They finished the 2010-2011 campaign in 8th place and the 2011-2012 campaign in 13th place. He departed the club in October only to return home to Bournemouth later that month. That same season, the club gained promotion to the Championship with a second-place finish. 2013-2014 was a bit of an adjustment year for Bournemouth as they finished tenth in the table. The next season was the one to remember as the Cherries finished a thriller by winning the Championship on the last day of the season and being promoted to the Premier League for the first time in the club's history.

In recognition of his managerial accomplishments, The Football League named Howe the manager of the Team of the Decade in 2015 (it was the tenth anniversary of the Football League Awards).

Management At a glance:

Club

Seasons Managed

Played

Wins

Draws

Losses

Bournemouth

12/31/08-1/15/11

99

50

17

32

Burnley

1/16/11-10/12/12

86

35

17

34

Bournemouth*

10/14/12-Present

180

90

39

51

Total

365

175

73

117

*As of week 33 of the 2015/2016 campaign.

Transfer Market

Unlike some of the other managers who have come from large, moneyed clubs that we will profile, Bournemouth has and continues to operate on a budget. In short, this means that as far as Premier League clubs are concerned, Eddie Howe is making salad out of radishes while everyone else is flying in their French chefs. Despite this, Howe has made some shrewd moves after the club made some progress.

Howe's first two years in charge saw a handful of free transfers and loans for Leagues One and Two caliber players. He was finally able to spend some money in the summer of 2010 as Bournemouth geared up for League One competition. No significant players were brought in during this time period but forward Danny Ings was brought up from the U-18 squad.

Things started to get interesting when Howe joined Burnley in the Championship. Two weeks after his arrival, the club purchased Charlie Austin from Swindon Town for 1.4M €. The next season, he spent the most money to date when he brought Danny Ings over from Bournemouth for 1.16M €, Junior Stanislas from West Ham for 1.35M € and Kieran Trippier from Manchester City for an undisclosed fee.

Once back at Bournemouth for the 2012-2013 season, Howe had slightly more to work with than when he left. He picked up one of his better signings in midfielder, Matt Ritchie for the sum of 465K €. The next year he broke the bank when he signed the South African striker, Tokelo Rantie from Swedish side Malmö FF for 4M €. Though a key signing that season, Rantie has not featured in the squad much lately and has only notched 6 appearances this season. Adam Smith was also brought in from Spurs for an unknown fee.

The year that Bournemouth made their move to the top of the Championship, 2014-2015 saw Howe bring in forward Callum Wilson from Coventry City for 3.7M €. Midfielder Andrew Surman was also brought in for a cool 630K €. Wilson figured to be a major part of Bournemouth's attach in the Premier League but unfortunately he ruptured his cruciate ligament after just eight appearances. Surman has found regular work with the club having 33 appearances this season. Howe proved that he didn't need to spend money to find quality as he brought in Dan Gosling in on a free transfer.

The lead up to Bournemouth's first Premier League campaign saw Eddie Howe kick down the chairman's door, push him out of his chair and take his checkbook. For the first time, Howe was able to spend in an effort to make his side competitive with the giants. In total, Bournemouth spent 55.11M € for 2015-2016 compared to 4.82M € for 2014-2015. The massive fees went to players who have propelled them to their current 11th place. These players include Benik Afobe (13.3M €), Tyrone Mings (11.3M €), Max Gradel (10M €), Lewis Grabban (9.35M €), Glenn Murray (5.4M €) and Lee Tomlin (4.3M €). Howe also brought in keeper Artur Boruc, former Toffee defender Sylvain Distin and defender Joshua King all on free transfers. With the exception of Tyrone Mings who tore a knee ligament early on, all of these players have logged significant time on the pitch this season.

To conclude, it's difficult to get a complete picture of Eddie Howe's player evaluation skills with top flight players because he has only had access to top flight money for one season. Also, it is too early to judge many of the players that have joined Bournemouth in the past 9 months. However, he has found value in very solid players in the past and he has shown that he can work with what is available to him.

Philosophy

Tactically, Howe is considered to be a progressive manager. He most often prefers to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation but occasionally opts for a sort of 4-4-2. The Cherries play in a quick, pass-and-move system and only attempt long passes on occasion. Howe employees his wingers, mainly on the very edge of the pitch, to move the ball forward after receiving it from defenders like Charlie Daniels and Adam Smith. In Howe's system, fullbacks are also asked to press forward.

An article from December 2015 by Adrian Clarke sums up Howe's team well. Clarke points out that Bournemouth's approach is based on speed and stamina. At the time, Bournemouth covered 119.25 km per match which was 3.7 km more than the next club, Tottenham. The midfielders in particular were singled out for being in the top 15 of the Premier League rankings and covering the most distance per match. The speed aspect relied heavily on Callum Wilson before he went down with his knee injury in September.

Feasibility

Eddie Howe has and continues to be an attractive option for clubs looking for a new manager. Once the season is over, there are likely to be several suitors looking to procure his services. At this point most of these clubs will be in the top leagues such as the Premier League and maybe elsewhere. With Roberto Martinez seemingly staring out the door, Everton could be one of said clubs. The Toffees are sort of known for taking young, promising managers who have achieved a certain level of success. Could Eddie Howe be the next one to walk out of the tunnel at Goodison Park?

Assuming that the bulk of the club stays intact, including supposed want-away Romelu Lukaku, the Everton job should be enticing to most managers. The squad is filled with talented internationals as most positions and has only a few glaring holes. The new manager would need to find a new keeper (something that Howe has done well with) and primarily focus on adding quality depth to the squad. There is also the promise of additional transfer funds becoming available with new majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri jumping aboard. Then there are the intangibles such as coming to a club with such a rich history and tradition which plays in a storied stadium in front of a massive, passionate fan base.

There's also many reasons to doubt that Eddie Howe would want to put on that royal blue track top and roam the Goodison touchline. Depending on how the rest of the managerial job market turns out, there's the potential that Howe could be linked to a move to an even larger club with even more money to spend. You know, Neymar-type money. Though he's probably not ready for those clubs yet.

Also, it's not a sound argument, but one could point out that Howe would be taking a step back considering that his current club is sitting three spots above Everton in the current table. That is mostly due to Everton's poor play but it's worth mentioning.

There is also a lot of uncertainty at Everton. One can argue that the new owner is a good thing in that he has promised a cash infusion. On the other hand, in football promises mean nothing until the action happens and Moshiri is unproven as a majority shareholder of a club. There are also the never-ending rumors of the Toffee's top players being linked to other clubs. Players such as Ross Barkley, John Stones and Romelu Lukaku are always the subject of speculation. These players are part of the key to Everton's future and will be relied upon heavily by the next manager. Uncertainty about these players may give candidates cold feet.

It's important not to forget that Howe is a Bournemouth guy. Probably more so than anyone else on earth. He played for them until his body wouldn't let him anymore. Then he managed them all the way from League Two to the Premier League. This is a club whose fans put a campaign together to pay his transfer fee to bring him back to Bournemouth on a permanent basis while he was coming off of two major injuries to the same knee and likely nearing the end of his career. If Eddie Howe is going to leave Bournemouth, it's going to have to be for something very, very special and I'm not sure if Everton has that allure at the moment.

I'd give him a 4 out of 10 on the likelihood of him being appointed manager at Everton. The bookies are even more skeptical than that, currently showing odds of 33/1.