So far this season we’ve seen evidence both for and against sacking a Premier League manager.
Watford, who have changed managers twice, are currently on Cloud 9 after amassing 13 points from six games under Nigel Pearson. Pearson’s only ‘blip’ was an opening match 2-0 defeat at runaway leaders Liverpool who have beaten 17 of the 18 other top-flight teams so far this season. In other words, his instant impact has been monumental.
Down on the south coast, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s future was extremely bleak during a damning period in which Southampton claimed only two of the available 22 points on offer; during which they suffered the ignominy of a 9-0 home thrashing to Leicester, and a lacklustre 2-1 loss against Everton.
The Saints kept the faith and have since reaped the rewards. No Premier League club has accumulated more points than Hasenhuttl’s resurgent Red and White Army (13) since the weekend before Christmas. The same amount as Watford - Liverpool have secured 12 points from 12 available having played a game less.
This brings us to free-falling Bournemouth, who have plummeted from 7th to 19th following a rotten run of four points from 11 games, with the club hitting a nadir after Sunday's dismal 3-0 defeat at home to Wafford.
Eddie Howe, the Premier League’s longest-serving manager, is in trouble. The 42-year-old, whose second-spell at the Cherries began back in 2012, is now the 6/4 favourite to become the top-flight’s seventh managerial casualty of the season and first of 2020.
After all, the club’s recent record makes for grim reading...
- In the relegation zone (19th) for the first time in over two years
- Lost four and won none of their last five matches
- Four points from the last 33 available
- Top-flight’s second worst home record (10 points)
Surely Bournemouth wouldn’t actually sack their manager?
Football is a cut-throat business with little room for nostalgia these days. But while the Cherries are in the midst of a terrible run of form, it would still come as a huge shock if Bournemouth were to dispense of the man who led the club from League Two to the Premier League, followed by five seasons of top-flight football.
Not only would a decision to axe Howe go down very badly with the majority of the Bournemouth faithful, there’s also a lack of viable candidates out there who you’d back to turn the club’s fortunes around.
Bournemouth have picked up just four points from 11 matches
Injuries are an inevitable downside of the game, but Howe deserves a certain degree of sympathy considering his misfortune when it comes to the absence of key players. He’s had to deal with a catalogue of injuries, with the likes of David Brooks, Nathan Ake and Charlie Daniels all out on the sidelines.
Prior to the Watford defeat, Howe said: “We’re always open to different things and we’ll look at what we can do”. With that in mind, then maybe Howe is in need of a fresh face on his coaching staff, someone who can inject new ideas into the club?
Meanwhile, it’s important to note that Howe has a history of successfully pulling the club out of the mire following a poor patch of form - a couple of examples coming back in their 2017/18 and 2016/17 Premier League seasons.
During the 2017/18 campaign, Bournemouth endured a testing November/December period where they went eight games without a win, which plopped them into the relegation. The response? Howe’s men lost just two of their following 13 matches, and went on to finish 12th, 11 points clear of safety.
Prior to that, they started New Year 2017 on a shocking run of three points from a potential 24 - and no wins. The response? They only lost two of their remaining 12 games through to the end of the season - to Chelsea and Tottenham - picking up five wins along the way. They finished the season in 9th - the best standing in the club’s entire history.
While there’s no debating that Howe is feeling the heat at this most testing of times, it’s difficult to see Bournemouth pulling the trigger. The display at home to Watford was a real low point but the club now have an ideal opportunity to bounce back during their upcoming matches against relegation rivals Norwich, Brighton and Watford.
Despite the decline in form since November, the clustered nature of this season means they are only eight points off Arsenal in 10th. An encouraging points tally from that aforementioned trio of games could significantly elevate a club’s standing - look at neighbours Southampton - there’s still plenty of football left to be played
History also shows that five of the last six clubs relegated from the Premier League did so after changing manager, a tally which extends to nine if you include the 2016/17 and 2015/16 seasons too.
No one knows Bournemouth better than Howe, and should the worst happen and their five-year stay in the Premier League does come to an end, then he’d back himself to bring them straight back. Something which we saw happen with Burnley after they kept the faith in Sean Dyche.
Sacking managers isn’t always the answer, and in this case Bournemouth will hope that Howe is the solution to their conundrum.