For Eddie Howe, the sense of familiarity will be quite natural when he confronts Brendan Rodgers this evening. This is the second time the two teams have met this year, after January’s FA Cup fourth-round tie which Liverpool won 2-0.
But there is more to it than that. There is a similarity between Howe and Rodgers, a shared background and approach to the game. The two are close and it would be no surprise if Howe were to follow Rodgers into the Premier League, either with Bournemouth or without.
Bournemouth are currently top of the Championship. When Howe began his first spell at the club, he was just 31 and the club were at severe risk of dropping out of the Football League.
He got them promoted to League One, though, and after a brief spell at Burnley he returned to Bournemouth two years ago. His enthusiastic style and passing philosophy could well deliver his third promotion to the club.
Howe, like Rodgers, had his playing career ruined by injuries in his twenties, diverting him to focus on coaching instead. Howe is just four years younger than Rodgers but has learned from him, spending two days with Rodgers when he was Swansea manager. The two speak about the game the same way and Howe’s Bournemouth team are proving what Rodgers’ Swansea did before: that passing football can be the most efficient way in the Championship.
“I think he’s an inspiration to a lot of managers, me being one of them,” Howe said about Rodgers after the teams met in January, before Rodgers came so close to winning the Premier League title.
“I have been lucky enough to watch him work and to see how he handles players, and how he coaches. He is an outstanding manager, and he fully deserved this opportunity at Liverpool. I can see him being a real success there in the long term.”
So it was little surprise to hear Howe defending the record of Rodgers ahead of tonight’s Capital One Cup game. “It is very difficult to have an opinion on the team you are playing against,” Howe said. “All I would say is that they have got some outstanding players and an outstanding manager. I thought they played very well against Manchester United.”
Like Rodgers, Howe has a very clear sense of how the game should be played and he hopes that his team carry this into tonight’s game.
Bournemouth are on a 12-game unbeaten streak stretching back to September – one which included an 8-0 win at Birmingham City. This is just the fifth season that they have ever spent in the second tier, but under Howe’s management they are currently finding it surprisingly manageable.
“We certainly respect Liverpool,” Howe said, “but I don’t think we should fear anybody, no matter what our form. Part of our blueprint is to be positive and to go into games and attack, and I don’t think it will be any different tomorrow. We won’t change our approach to this game.”
When Howe talks about his football he does sound like Rodgers. “It was a conscious decision to play football in this league,” Howe said last season. “You have to work on it every day as much as Brendan will do with the philosophy that he has built up at Liverpool and at other clubs.
“We are trying to develop a way of playing and you have to work on it every day. That is what we are trying to do.”
Howe’s footballing education started when he was a teenager playing under Sean O’Driscoll, and he later learned under Tony Pulis, Harry Redknapp and Mel Machin. All of them he takes as influences, even if their approaches are slightly different from his own.
Howe, who just turned 37, is very much of the new generation of managers, trying to win promotion to the Premier League through progressive football, just as Rodgers did before him.Reuse content