At the start of the season, Bournemouth were the overwhelming favourite for Premier League relegation. They were a squad of players without Premier League experience, and had the smallest ground in Premier League history. Instead, the Cherries now sit 13th in the Premier League, 13 points clear of the drop zone, and they can surely count themselves safe.
One of the main factors in their incredible season has been the work of manager Eddie Howe. Howe first joined Bournemouth as a player in 1994, and barring brief spells away with Portsmouth as a player, then Burnley as a manager, he has been at the south coast club ever since. The 38-year-old was with the club at its lowest point when it faced the possibility of liquidation in 2008, and now when it has reached its highest point in the Premier League.
What is most impressive about the Englishman however is the way he has stuck to his guns in the Premier League. Throughout his side’s impressive rise to the top division of English football, Howe has maintained the passing style of football he introduced in his side. He has not fallen into the trap of putting men behind the ball and hoping to nick a goal, and instead has tried to outplay the opposition. It is certainly a strategy that has worked out.
Howe has shown loyalty to the players who got them up to the Premier League, despite the money that they have spent on new players. Matt Ritchie, Harry Arter and Simon Francis were all crucial players for Bournemouth in the Championship, and they have played similar roles in the Premier League.
They have had problems with injuries, with the likes of Max Gradel, Callum Wilson and Tyrone Mings all picking up long-term injuries, and it would have been easy for Howe to dip into the transfer market to bring in more players. Instead he has trusted his more experienced players, who have shown an incredible desire to stay in the Premier League.
No team has covered more ground that the Cherries players this season, who have completed an incredible 3115km in the Premier League. This has all contributed to a brilliant run of form in the second half of the season, and since December 1, only Tottenham and Leicester City have won more games than Bournemouth’s eight.
It would take a miracle to send Bournemouth down now, and they can certainly begin planning for another season in the Premier League. If the Cherries can keep hold of Eddie Howe as their manager, they can certainly become an established team in England’s top division.