Eddie Howe and Bournemouth remind me of an ageing married couple.
The pair were childhood sweethearts at school during the mid-90s and early-00s, inseparably joined at the hip and deeply in love. Then, life took its toll and this well-spoken, well-educated, likeable young man moved away for an exciting new job opportunity up North, away from everything he knew and loved; away from the comfort zone he had called home for so many years.
The problem was, as much as Howe wanted a change of scenery to work out and as much as he so desperately wanted to spread his wings in the very different surroundings of East Lancashire, without the shackles of his first love, he just couldn’t. He missed them too dearly and returned a year later, welcomed back with open arms by the girl who probably always knew he would shortly return.
I am of course talking about Howe’s short stint with Burnley during the 2011-12 campaign.
I suspect that Howe believed that he had outgrown Bournemouth when he decided to take the Burnley job in 2011. At the time, the Clarets were in the Championship while Bournemouth were in League One and had just missed out on a play-off final appearance, knocked out in the semi-finals by Huddersfield Town on penalties.
Howe would have imagined that coming so close to greatness, but ultimately remaining a humble club in the lower reaches of English football’s third-tier was the limit for Bournemouth, who, lets not forget, could have quite easily not existed had things not have taken a positive spin just two years prior.
Simply put, he would have been a mad man to not have taken the job at Turf Moor, and the fact that it did not work is in no way shameful.
A return to where it all began in 2012 was to be next on the agenda for Howe, back to home comforts; back to his childhood sweetheart.
Since then, things have just exploded for Bournemouth under Eddie Howe.
Bournemouth's Rapid Rise
Two promotions in three seasons - one of those as Championship title-winners in 2014-15 - now means that Bournemouth, a team whose stadium holds a mere 11,000 spectators, are regular features in the world’s best and strongest league. A ninth-placed finish in 2016-17 made history for the Cherries, it was their highest ever league finish and a huge achievement which will never be forgotten.
Howe’s work on the south coast will forever be lauded by fans of Bournemouth and he will go down in history as the biggest legend the club has seen, that is a fact. But, where does the 42-year-old go from here?
Every club has its ceiling and while it is not beyond the realms of possibility to see Bournemouth stake a serious challenge for Europa League football in the future, that is the very best they can strive for. There is of course nothing wrong with that, but you cannot argue that Howe now deserves better than distant hope of a hugely inconvenient away day in Kazakhstan on a Thursday evening.
Next Destination: Arsenal?
The managerial position is now up for grabs at Arsenal after the sacking of Unai Emery, and while the likes of Massimiliano Allegri and Nuno Espirito Santo dominate the betting markets as next to take charge in north London, there is a man, whose odds are still a favourable 20/1 - that perhaps should not be ignored.
If Howe were a car he would be a Volvo: sturdy, reliable and safe. Unai Emery would have been viewed as a sexy European supercar prior to his appointment at the Emirates, and look how that panned out.
If there were ever a time that Arsenal needed a Volvo, it’s now. Howe has proved his worth in England’s top-flight and all the while done it with class and integrity. His loyalty cannot be questioned after his phenomenal career at Bournemouth, but now it’s time that he moved on and had a chance to really spread his wings.
North London is a whole lot closer than the North West of England so homesickness should not come into it in this hypothetical scenario, which from the outside looking in, seems to benefit both parties.
Players like Callum Wilson and Lewis Cook would potentially follow Howe to the Emirates if he did make the move; both of whom are also deserved of their shot at the big-time and would massively improve the options the Gunners currently have at their disposal.
In short, Howe is tailor-made for the Arsenal job. He has now done all he can do at Bournemouth, taking them to unprecedented levels that would have been only dreamt about before. He is deserving of a chance to really showcase his talents with a goliath of the footballing world and, at 20/1, from the punter’s perspective, could be worth a few quid, too.