Eddie Howe Responds to Rumours He Could Replace Arsene Wenger as Arsenal Manager

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2016

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - JULY 23: The AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe thanks the supporters after a Pre-Season Friendly match between Portsmouth FC and AFC Bournemouth at Fratton Park on July 23, 2016 in Portsmouth, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has committed his future to the club after speculation linked him with a move to Arsenal this week. 

The coach has impressed plenty after some wonderful work with the Cherries, and according to Neil Ashton of the Sun, he’s "under serious consideration" to eventually replace Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium. But when quizzed about the links at his press conference on Thursday, Howe dismissed the speculation.

"I'd rather be linked doing something right than the other way, but my only focus is winning with Bournemouth," he said, per Mark Ashenden of Sky Sports. "I am loyal. I love the town and I want to continue that association for as long as possible."

Howe went on to suggest he’s not sure what his future plans are and doubts whether the reports hold much credence.

Howe has been tipped as a possible replacement for Wenger.
Howe has been tipped as a possible replacement for Wenger.GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

“It's very hard to predict the future. If you try to then you come unstuck. In football management, you live week to week,” he added. “You turn a blind eye to speculation, and anyone that tells me about it I believe it is not meaningful and it doesn't help me get results for this club.”

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For Howe’s Cherries, the current season is their second in the Premier League. After a remarkable rise from the fourth tier to the elite, the manager was able to keep Bournemouth afloat last campaign and will be seeking to perform similar heroics again this term.

Howe has assembled a much stronger squad this summer, with the loan signing of Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere serving as the marquee capture. The Bournemouth boss is impressed with the manner in which he’s adapted to life at the club: “He has settled in very well with the changing room and dynamics of the group. He's given the whole club a lift and raised levels in training.”

Plenty has aligned for Bournemouth under Howe, and he deserves major credit for that. Nonetheless, making a move to Arsenal would be a massive step up.

Indeed, Arsenal blogger Le Grove feels appointing Howe may see Arsenal making the same error as Manchester United when replacing their long-term figurehead, Sir Alex Ferguson:

There are many credentials to consider when it comes to the 38-year-old. Under his guidance, Bournemouth have always played an eye-catching brand of football, although he’s also instilled the kind of steel that’s vital to make such rapid progression through various levels of the unforgiving Football League.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 02:  Eddie Howe Manager of AFC Bournemouth lifts the Championship trophy after winning the the Sky Bet Championship after the game between Charlton Athletic and AFC Bournemouth at The Valley on May 2, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo
Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Howe is an unflappable character, too. During, before or after matches, he’s a composed presence, especially for a manager who is still in the early stages of his career. There’s also a conviction about his decision-making, and he indulges in an infectious work ethic.

Players under his watch have made steady improvements as well. Bleacher Report’s Paul Ansorge believes Wilshere will progress well working with Howe:

Although opinion is divided among the Arsenal fanbase when it comes to Wenger, few are under the illusion that replacing him will be extremely difficult when he does step aside. Since 1996, he’s been the top man at the club, and the methods he’s instilled will be extremely deep-rooted as a result. A unique coach will subsequently be needed.

Dealing with a higher calibre of player, increased expectations and the focus that comes with being Arsenal boss would be a huge challenge for Howe, who is clearly content with life in Bournemouth at this juncture. However, should the opportunity present itself, as a coach who's evidently ambitious, he would surely jump at the opportunity.