In any normal season Bournemouth staying in the Premier League would be major news, but this is of course no normal campaign.
At the start of the campaign I backed Eddie Howe’s team to survive the drop. They were one of the favourites to be relegated back to the Championship as top-flight newcomers and have defied the odds.
The Cherries have now gone past the 40 points mark, the usual barometer for top-flight status.
The side from Dorset are 14th in the Premier League table, but have held their own for much of the campaign.
The Cherries are ten points clear of the relegation zone and are virtually safe from the drop. This weekend their safety is likely to be mathematically confirmed.
Did not change their principles
Cherries boss Eddie Howe is an impressive figure. He is still young in terms of top-flight bosses, yet he has achieved so much with his current club. Howe recently did an interview about how important it is for managers to stick to their principles.
Earlier this season at the beginning of the campaign when the Cherries were finding their feet in the top-flight, some questioned Howe’s team attempting to play a passing game in the top-flight.
Howe refused to change his tactics and stuck to his passing philosophy that had served him so well in the Championship and League One before that. The Cherries have anything but ground out survival. They have played their way to safety and deserve immense credit for the way.
Howe has shown good tactical acumen this season and seems to have a bright future in the game. The Cherries boss has already been linked with the managerial position at Everton, reportedly his boyhood club, but Howe knows that he has to be careful if he does move on after a failed spell at Burnley earlier in his career.
Core of a British team
Eddie Howe has built a team mostly with a British core. The Cherries backline of Charlie Daniels, Steve Cook, Tommy Elphick and Simon Francis were the team’s first choice defence in the Championship and are all British.
Whether Howe has kept the core of his team British deliberately is debatable, but the Cherries bosses’ transfer policy hints that he prefers British players. He brought in the likes of Tyrone Mings and Benik Afobe in recent windows.
Foreign signings like Juan Iturbe and Max Gradel have also arrived, but the Cherries have not gone over the top with signing cheap foreign players. It will be interesting to see if Howe sticks to the same recruitment policy this summer.
Bournemouth here to stay under Howe
Bournemouth were comparably ambitious in the transfer market in the last two windows, as they broke their transfer record twice with the signings of Tyrone Mings in the summer and then Benik Afobe in January.
No doubt the Cherries will strengthen their squad again this summer. The Cherries need to be careful of second season syndrome that strikes some clubs though. However, under the reliable Howe it seems that Bournemouth are here to stay.
The side from Dorset have come a long way in the last five years and much of that progress must be attributed to Howe’s intelligence and managerial nous. The 38-year-old who fell into management almost by accident is a very intense guy in training and in his managerial methods, so he is unlikely to allow his team’s season drift off.
The Cherries face Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United in their final three fixtures. Many would have thought that Howe’s side would still be fighting for their top-flight lives at this stage of the campaign.
Instead the clubs fans can enjoy the rest of the season in the knowledge that their team will again be competing with the best teams England have to offer next season, mainly courtesy of the highly-creditable managerial skills of Eddie Howe and his backroom staff.
Is Bournemouth getting the credit they deserve this season?