The Rise and Rise of Bournemouth
Eight years ago Bournemouth AFC started the League Two season with a -17 points deficit.
What a turnaround in those eight years.
With the English Premier League coming to a close Bournemouth have secured their spot in the top flight for next season. While Leicester’s run to the championship has been something of a fairy-tale, the performance of Bournemouth is also unprecedented.
Much of the success is due to inspirational manager Eddie Howe, aged 38.
A former defender with the club, Howe has been instrumental in the rapid rise through the divisions for the club. Fans of the Cherries will be hoping that the man who catapulted their club into the elite will not be lured away to a bigger club.
Howe is an innovative thinker not constrained by traditional thought. He is prepared to give anything a go at least once if he thinks it will make a difference to the performance of his squad.
Taking Ideas From College Basketball
Much of his approach comes from the learnings of the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.
Wooden was a believer in the Pyramid of Success – a framework that suggests competitive greatness comes from a foundation of strong individual character and teamwork.
Howe changed his attitude to winning and losing after reading the views of Wooden.
The American believed the focus should be on being the best that you can be every day. The competitive challenge should be with the individual. Rather than focusing on the opposition, Wooden demanded his players constantly improve themselves.
Howe recognised the importance of this approach early in his management career with Bournemouth being restricted by a transfer embargo. He has instilled the importance of one-on-one training at Bournemouth.
Testament to this approach is that the regular Bournemouth back four of Tommy Elphick, Steve Cook, Simon Francis and Charlie Daniels were all playing for Bournemouth in League One just three years ago. The defensive quartet has now consistently delivered against the best clubs in England.
Learning Starts With The Man In The Mirror
Howe is refreshingly honest about what he has to do if he wants his players to improve.
“To develop my players to be the best that they can be, first I have to develop myself.”
This fully committed approach is what being a coach is all about. A coach has to keep on learning and assessing themselves if they want to expect that same approach from their players.
It is for this reason that Top Flight Football has forged connections with coaches managing elite junior teams in Italy – ACF Fiorentina and Empoli FC. Ongoing learning is absolutely essential for a coach if he wants the same for his players.
For New Zealanders it is about looking outward to see what can be learnt from global talent centres. For Eddie Howe, the world of US college basketball has helped set him on a trajectory to excellence.
Howe demonstrated his aptitude for learning during his career as a professional footballer.
At the age of 18 he was very much one-footed. However, by the age of 24 he was effectively a two-footed player and could take free kicks with his left foot.
This turnaround was due to practice in the off-season with his brothers, one of whom was also a professional footballer.
Now, as a manager, Eddie Howe is applying hard work and that desire to learn to make a massive difference at Bournemouth.
It will be fascinating to follow his progress within the game and see how far his “be the best you can be” approach will take him. Expect it to be a long way.
The Big Interview with Graham Hunter podcast
“Eddie Howe: The best you can be.”
- “Howe climbs the ‘pyramid of success’ at Bournemouth”
- “Bournemouth history boys relishing life in the Premier League”
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