Eddie Howe

Eddie Howe reacts to Bournemouth loss
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Howe: My fault things aren’t going well at Bournemouth

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There’s real trouble at Bournemouth, who’ve lost two of three-straight relegation six-pointers by a combined 7-0 score line.

The Cherries are in the Bottom Three, the pressure increasing on manager and seemingly untouchable club hero Eddie Howe following a 3-0 home loss to Watford on Sunday.

The home score line in a relegation six-pointer alone would be enough to crush most managers, but Howe has driven the Cherries from the lower leagues to Premier League regular status.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

That’s now in question, though, as Bournemouth is two points away from the safe places after allowing the Hornets to leapfrog them.

Howe is not shirking responsibility for the problems of the Vitality Stadium set, which is beset by injuries and ice-cold stars. Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser aren’t making much happen whether industrious or not.

Here’s Howe:

“I’m not going to blame anybody, we are trying to do the right thing just haven’t executed it very well. Confidence, nerves, it is such a key thing. We have been on a difficult run and this week key players have got injured. We had players playing that aren’t 100% fit. When you get a setback were not able to lift ourselves in the way we normally would.

“We are not looking free-scoring and when you concede a goal it seems a long way back. We need to focus on both disciplines. The manager always has to take responsibility when things aren’t going well. Instilling confidence back to the players is my job.”

There’s no time for low confidence; Bournemouth has Norwich City next, a match with a chance for the Cherries to keep at least one team in its rearview mirror.

PL Sunday Preview: Watford travel to Bournemouth; Aston Villa host City

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures won’t be the busiest of all, but it promises to have some drama as bottom-dwellers Bournemouth and Watford face off, while Manchester City travel to Villa Park.

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Bournemouth vs. Watford — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

It might be difficult to admit, but Nigel Pearson‘s arrival at Watford has done wonders for the club.

The Hornets secured 10 out of the possible 12 points during the festive period, putting the upwards-trending club two points within reach of escaping the drop zone. Throughout that same stretch of four matches, Pearson and company have outscored opponent’s eight goals to two.

The 56-year-old, who last coached Belgium’s Oud-Heverlee Leuven, is implementing an effective and pragmatic 4-2-3-1 system. But perhaps the reason behind the escape trick isn’t solely based on on-field adjustments, but on the emotional investment that the manager is putting forward.

“I’ve been asked a few times already about whether I had still got enthusiasm or the drive or whatever it is to continue to work, and those are the sorts of questions that I’ve asked myself for sure,” he said leading up to Sunday’s match.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we were capable of getting out of the situation that we’re in, but I can’t ask people to be committed if I’m not committed myself, so all those things are very important to me and I think this club has got a really strong identity and there’s potential for us to rediscover what we are as a football club.

“I do feel attached to being a part of that and trying to rediscover that.”

Eddie Howe‘s Bournemouth, on the other hand, are on the opposite site of the spectrum, falling instead of climbing up the table.

Ravaged by injuries, the Cherries picked up a sole point throughout the same span of four matches. Howe, desperate to animate his team (and supporters), is urging for Dean Court to get loud and hostile again – like in the past.

“Teams used to really fear coming here, a tight ground and a great atmosphere,” Howe said. “We now need that feeling back, which only we can create as a team.

“We’ve had good battles with Watford and I imagine this game will be tight again – our motivation levels have to be higher than theirs.”

INJURIES: Bournemouth — OUT: Danjuma (ankle), King (hamstring), Stacey (hamstring), Brooks (ankle), Daniels (knee) | Watford — OUT: Hughes (groin), Janmaat (knee), Cleverley (calf), Welbeck (hamstring), Femenía (hamstring) Prödl (calf)

Aston Villa vs. Manchester City — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Everything is moving at hyperspeed for Aston Villa, and they probably don’t want it that way.

Days after earning a laudable draw against Leicester City in the semi-final of the EFL Cup, Dean Smith and company host back-to-back champions Manchester City. It wasn’t too long ago that Villa lost Wesley and Tom Heaton to season-ending injuries, either.

Smith recognizes at what speed the challenging hurdles are coming at, but instead preaches for concentration from his players.

“We played the second-placed team in the cup and now we’re playing the team that are third and have won back-to-back titles,” the 48-year-old said. “They have a world-class coach and world-class players, they can afford to spend £50m on a right back, so we know the test.”

“They have had some off days this season – they got beat at Norwich and Wolves – so we must have belief in ourselves, as well as concentration.”

Fresh off a 3-1 victory over rivals Manchester United, the sense is that Manchester City are finally finding their groove again.

Pep Guardiola and his team may be out of contention for a third straight title, but they have a lot to prove with the EFL Cup and Champions League still up for grabs. In fact, Sunday’s match against Villa may well be a preview of the EFL Cup final.

“We have to play all the teams. Sometimes they’re at the top, sometimes in the middle, sometimes at the bottom. It’s a historic club,” Guardiola said prior to Sunday’s match. “They changed their last set-up in the last game. We’ll try to maintain the dynamic we have.”

INJURIES: Aston Villa — OUT: Davis (hamstring), Steer (achilles), Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), McGinn (foot) | Manchester City OUT: Laporte (knee), Sané (knee) (knee)

Howe hopes Bournemouth can shake ‘most difficult’ period in 2020

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Eddie Howe very clearly loves his job and AFC Bournemouth with every fiber of his being, but its also quite clear that he hasn’t enjoyed the numerous challenges that came with being the Bournemouth manager in 2019.

[ MORE: Arteta urges Xhaka to reject transfer to Hertha Berlin ]

Most notably, the Cherries have battled a laundry list of injuries dating back to last season, and the serious lack of resources at Howe’s disposal is beginning to take its toll. With just one win from their last nine Premier League games, Bournemouth sit 16th in the table, just two points clear of the relegation zone, as the calendar changes over from 2019 to 2020. Howe is desperately hoping that a new year will bring his side some new luck — quotes from Sky Sports:

“It’s been a tough year. If I cast my mind back to last year, we started the season with injuries and a stretched squad. We battled and got through and achieved our aims throughout the season.

“But this early season has been probably the most difficult I have had in terms of resources. I have learned a lot throughout it and am looking forward to maybe a change of luck as we go into a new year.”

“Every year that Bournemouth stay in the Premier League has to be the overriding thing that is remembered, not injuries.

“It is not a hard-luck story, it is not [about] feeling sorry for ourselves. We stayed in the Premier League. It is our fifth year. It is going to be very difficult to do it again but we can achieve it and continue to look optimistically for the future.”

Bournemouth will kick off 2020 with a trip to east London to take on West Ham United, who fired Manuel Pellegrini on Saturday and appointed David Moyes as his replacement 24 hours later, on New Year’s Day (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold).

Eddie Howe concerned about Bournemouth

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Eddie Howe‘s Bournemouth are enduring their toughest stretch since being promoted to the Premier League in 2015.

The Cherries lost 2-0 at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday to leave them perilously close to the relegation zone as scoring goals and defensive injuries have become a problem for Howe’s side and their players, fans and staff looked dejected at the Amex Stadium at full time.

Speaking to the BBC after the clash, Howe admitted it was a tough day for the Cherries who have now won just one of their last nine games.

“That was a tough day today, we know how good Brighton are with the ball and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb and didn’t settle in the first 10 minutes,” Howe said. “We did recover and did well in the remainder of the first half. What was most disappointed was the second half where we needed to get on the ball and we didn’t have the composure to do that.”

With Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser coming off the bench and David Brooks out injured, Bournemouth have looked surprisingly lackluster in attack all season and they lacked creativity against Brighton and never looked like dragging themselves back into the game.

Howe is determined for Bournemouth to not start feeling sorry for themselves as they now face a key stretch of games as they play West Ham, Watford, Norwich, Brighton and Aston Villa.

But he admitted they could have lost Josh King and Jack Stacey to injury, as their long list of absentees continues to grow.

“The most difficult is the run or results but the strength of the squad has been knocked and that allows a feeling sorry for yourself if you don’t get the results you want,” Howe said. “But we have to go again, find the inner strength and keep going… You know with a small squad the Christmas period is ultimate test and you need to rotate players, it’s very difficult to ask players to go twice in three days and it looks like we’ve lost Joshua King and Jack Stacey so it is not a good day. The games come thick and fast and this was one of the games we needed to get something and we didn’t. We need to learn our lessons.”

Howe: Speculation of move away from Bournemouth ‘nonsense’

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Eddie Howe issued a stinging rebuke of reports linking him to a move away from Bournemouth, moments after his Cherries were beaten by 10-man Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

“This speculation is nonsense and I’m standing here as Bournemouth manager,” Howe said. “I live my days for the club and I always have been, and that will never change.”

[ RECAP: Palace 1-0 Bournemouth ]

Howe led Bournemouth to promotion from League One to the Premier League, and has kept the club in the top flight since its debut in 2015/16. His name is attached to all kinds of managerial jobs, from open gigs like Arsenal to currently held jobs like Everton.

The Cherries have finished 16th, 9th, 12th, and 14th, impressive feats, and again sit 12th after Tuesday’s loss.

Howe took responsibility for the loss, which came despite Palace playing 70-plus minutes with 10 men after a red card was given to Mamadou Sakho for a wild slide tackle.

“The sending off seemed to harm us mentally and we never stamped our authority on the game,” he said. “We needed a little bit more guile and creativity but it was lacking today. I’m not going to criticize the players and I’m going to take responsibility. It’s not good enough and I have to go away and think about what I do.”