As the summer sun faded on a scorching Saturday on the south coast, Eddie Howe became unemployed for the first time in 11-and-a-half-years; a lengthy period of time during which the Englishman had overseen three successive spells at two clubs: Bournemouth (twice) and Burnley.
After leaving his beloved Bournemouth for a second time, Howe now finds himself in the unfamiliar yet cramped surroundings of the managerial Job Centre, a place no boss wants to spend a prolonged period of time.
While it’s not even been 48 hours since Howe’s departure from the Cherries, the frenetic nature of the managerial arena means that he’s already being linked with a swift return to the dugout.
We take a look at his options…
Take a breather
First and foremost no one could begrudge Howe a breather.
As mentioned, he’d been managing full-time for nearly 12 straight years, so it makes sense for the young boss - whose remarkably only 42 - to rest and recuperate while he contemplates his next move.
It’s been reported by the Daily Mail that Howe will take a break, but give him a week and he’ll be gunning to get back to the hustle-and-bustle of life as a football manager, so don’t expect him to take an enlightening year-long sabbatical like Pep Guardiola.
We’ll start with a club whom Howe has been linked with in the past: Newcastle.
The Toon’s dreams of securing the services of Mauricio Pochettino may have taken a massive hit after the takeover bid failed, yet should the club still opt to replace marmite manager Steve Bruce after a single yet solid season then Howe would surely be installed as one of the favourites for the post.
During Bournemouth’s time in the Premier League Howe’s name frequently appeared in the frame for other top-flight vacancies - from Arsenal to Everton - and even the England job. Despite Bournemouth’s relegation and Howe’s subsequent departure, the 42-year-old will still believe the Premier League is where he belongs, and once the Newcastle situation becomes clearer he may be all set to pack his bags and jet up North.
The only other Premier League option that looks anyway near likely at the moment is Crystal Palace.
In March Roy Hodgson signed a one-year contract extension through to the end of the 2020/21 campaign, however many supporters were left underwhelmed and frustrated by the club’s woeful post-lockdown form during which they picked up four points from a possible 27...although their solitary win was over Howe’s Bournemouth.
In the end Palace, who previously held outside hopes of a European place, fell to a disappointing 14th-placed finish which could in turn impact upon Hodgson’s immediate future at the Eagles, who may decide that the summer break is the right time to seek a new direction.
We obviously now know that Howe won’t be managing Bournemouth in the Championship next season, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t be working in the same division as his former employers.
At the time of writing there are a couple of second-tier jobs up for grabs with Bristol City and Watford searching for a new man at the helm following the respective exits of Lee Johnson and Nigel Pearson.
Bristol City (6/1) could be an interesting option. Howe memorably created history at Bournemouth after he led the club into the Premier League for the first time, something that has so far eluded The Robins.
Meanwhile, last year Howe revealed that he used to watch Watford as a youngster with Vicarage Road the first stadium he ever visited. He also stated that over the years he’d always kept an eye on their results and is still fond of the club - he’s currently priced at 8/1 to become their fourth permanent boss in under a year.
Recent history shows that opting to take the plunge and test your credentials abroad can be a dangerous move for an English manager.
Alan Pardew’s recent stint in Holland at ADO Den Haag lasted four months, whereas David Moyes endured an underwhelming spell at Real Sociedad.
However, it can also prove to be a risk worth taking. From Graham Potter at Ostersunds to John Gregory at Chennaiyin and Steve McClaren’s first spell at FC Twente, while Eddie Newton has just lifted the Turkish Cup as caretaker of Trabzonspor.