When you think of Bournemouth, you think of a small yet established Premier League club. Although they are currently undertaking their fifth successive season in the English top-flight, they may struggle to extend that run to six.
After picking up just a single point from the twelve that were on offer during the festive period, the Cherries now find themselves rooted in the relegation zone and preparing for a battle to stay in the division.
For a club that has fended off previous threats of relegation, this was meant to be the season in which Bournemouth had a serious attempt at cracking the glass ceiling above. It was meant to be the season that they drew closer to the Premier League’s top echelons.
Unfortunately, the complete opposite seems to have happened. Although a litany of injuries have played a massive part in their struggles, you do wonder if there is a bigger underlying issue.
The suspicion is that there is an issue linked to their young manager, Eddie Howe. With Bournemouth’s current league standing looking precarious, fans of the club are asking a once unthinkable question “Has Howe stayed on too long?”
Managers who who live lower down the football hierarchy accept that their career progress is ultimately dictated by timing. Failure to make a move up the ladder at the right time, could set them back several years.
Eddie Howe has often been tipped as a future England manager. Although there is plenty of time for the Bournemouth manager to take charge of the Three Lions, he will be all too aware of his own value in the managerial stock market.
A relegation for Bournemouth would not necessarily be a disaster for the Dorset outfit, especially considering the amount of television revenue they have banked over the past five years.
However, a relegation with their current incumbent at the helm would certainly see his personal value plummet. If they do end up in the EFL Championship next season, Howe may regret not throwing his hat in the ring for other vacancies.
Even if Howe does have regrets about not landing a move, it’s not as easy as just announcing your interest. If you want to be considered for the likes of Arsenal or Everton, ultimately there has to be interest from the clubs.
Therefore, perhaps the 42-year-old is just as hamstrung as Bournemouth have been after suffering so many injuries this season. If the bigger clubs are not prepared to take a punt on him, why would he feel the need to move away from the South Coast?
In a sense, the man who kept the club in the Football League has become a victim of his own success. Although he may have outgrown his current employers, he’s still not viewed as big enough to take on a larger remit.
Everton are the perfect example of this. When the Goodison Park hotseat became vacant after the sacking of Marco Silva, it should have been the perfect opportunity for Howe to land a move away from the Vitality Stadium.
Unfortunately, Everton still have Champions League ambitions and, after taking a gamble on youth in Silva, they opted for experience. In Carlo Ancelotti they appointed someone who has been there and worn Europe’s most coveted t-shirt.
With the experience Ancelotti has at some of the biggest clubs in the land, he was always going to be the frontrunner in the race to fill the Merseyside vacancy. It was the same story at Tottenham who appointed Jose Mourinho. Same at Arsenal who, after much dithering, got their house in order with Mikel Arteta.
Some say that the Bournemouth job is the easiest in the Premier League owing to how supportive the board and fans are. Perhaps there is a modicum of truth in that. However, it does come with a rather large caveat, the support is conditional on results being well.
It means the Bournemouth job has suddenly become one of the most difficult. People will point to an injury list which never seems to get any shorter. However, perhaps there is also a suspicion that the well has run dry in terms of ideas.
Ultimately it boils down to knowing the right time to move on. Should Howe have moved on sooner? Perhaps even after a single season of Premier League management behind him, to show that he is a man with serious career aspirations.
That ship has long since sailed though. Now Howe has the task of ensuring that this season doesn’t become a shipwreck. If he fails then maybe the Bournemouth manager may regret staying on too long.