London Evening Standard
It is a sign of Eddie Howe’s standing at Bournemouth that millionaire owner Maxim Demin consulted him over who should be chairman.
At the meeting two years ago, also attended by assistant boss Jason Tindall and chief executive Neill Blake, Howe plumped for Jeff Mostyn, the man who gave him his break as a manager.
“I was at home when I got a call from Maxim,” says Mostyn, who moved down to vice-chairman after the Russian bought 50 per cent of the club in 2011. “He said, ‘Hi, Jeff we’re having a board meeting in Moscow. I have Eddie, Jason and Neill with me and we have decided you are the new chairman’.
“It must be the first time in football that a manager and assistant manager have appointed a chairman.”
For Mostyn, the story illustrates Bournemouth’s habit of doing the unexpected. This gives him the confidence in their maiden season in the top flight to declare: “We have the ability to survive long term in the Premier League, to emulate Swansea.”
The Cherries’ history of defying the odds coincides with Howe’s time as manager. Bournemouth started the 2008‑09 season in League Two with a 17‑point deduction for going into administration and then sacked boss Jimmy Quinn in December with the club seven points from safety and in serious danger of heading out of the Football League.
Mostyn turned to a then 31-year-old Howe and despite losing his first two games the rookie boss sparked a revival, which saw them avoid the drop by nine points. The following season they finished second.
Intriguingly, Mostyn reveals: “We appointed him because we didn’t have to pay him any more than we were already paying him as youth‑team manager. We would have had to pay a lot more for an experienced manager.”
Such have been Howe’s achievements — he was voted the Football League Manager of the Decade in April — that Mostyn proudly claims: “Eddie is the best young English manager of his generation.
“What he has done is play the type of football that has prepared the team for what we’ve always believed is our destiny: to be in the Premier League. So, in the Championship, we played football like a Premier League club; back to front, proper possession football, with the goalkeeper rolling the ball out.
“This made us special, the thoroughbred Championship club. Most Championship clubs play a long ball. And that is why a lot of them suffer in the Premier League. So there is no requirement for us to suddenly say we’re in the Premier League we now need to change the entire methodology of play.
“Eddie knew you can’t train footballers over four years, get to the Premier League and then suddenly say, ‘Forget that, we are doing something different’.”
Mostyn concedes that Howe is on a learning curve but says: “Eddie has this insatiable appetite for work and he is developing himself all the time.
“During the summer holiday, when most managers are on some sun‑drenched beach in a far corner of the Earth, Eddie was travelling round Europe looking at the training methods of Spanish and Italian clubs.
“In Eddie, we have two for the price of one, an English manager who has a European mentality.”
Tomorrow, Howe and Bournemouth go to West Ham, having started the season with 1-0 defeats against Aston Villa and Liverpool.
The team acquitted themselves well at Anfield and were unlucky not to get a point given that Christian Benteke’s goal was offside.
That performance supports Mostyn’s view that the team, whose ground holds just 11,700, will handle the step up.
“We are not intimidated,” says Mostyn. “We will perform as well at Old Trafford in front of 76,000 as when Manchester United comes to us to play at the Vitality Stadium. That will be more intimidating for some of the elite sides because the size of the ground will make them think, ‘This is the third round of the FA Cup and we are playing a small League side’. They will be intimidated by the close proximity of our fans to the pitch.”
For all Howe’s success, Mostyn says the owner deserves credit, too. “Without Maxim this football club would not be in the Premier League, irrespective of having the best young English manager.
“When Maxim became Bournemouth’s 100 per cent owner in 2013, it was the most significant day in this club’s recent history.”
A Russian owner arouses fan expectations of investment on the scale of the billions Roman Abramovich has lavished on Chelsea. But, while Demin has spent around £25million in two years, many of the summer arrivals have been free deals with the biggest signing being £8m full-back Tyrone Mings.
“This year we need to be financially prudent,” says Mostyn. “Once we have enjoyed the income from the Premier League for three or four seasons, we will have the financial ability to do more.”