Eddie Howe admits he is facing his toughest time as Bournemouth boss after yet another defeat left them languishing in the drop zone and left him favourite to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job.
It’s no surprise to see Howe as the 6/4 favourite to win the dreaded sack race after a woeful run has seen Bournemouth tumble down into the bottom three from their usual mid-table position.
Aston Villa’s Dean Smith and Norwich’s Daniel Farke are next in the list, but they seem likely to be secure in their jobs with both teams arguably looking at them as long-term solutions so seem unlikely to make knee-jerk reactions.
Premier League sack race odds
- Eddie Howe - 6/4
- Dean Smith - 5/2
- Daniel Farke - 3/1
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - 4/1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is always there or thereabouts but after Manchester United thumped Norwich his odds have eased out to 4/1, but he faces a huge week and should their FA Cup replay and trip to Anfield to face Liverpool go wrong then his job will be on the line again.
Bournemouth lacking confidence, players, and points
The Cherries are at their lowest ebb for a couple of years now, and a combination of some dreadful luck with injuries and a huge slump in form has combined to put them in serious relegation trouble.
Bournemouth are now odds-on (5/6) to go down as Watford passed them by on the exact opposite trajectory as they find some flying form under Nigel Pearson, and the pressure will only intensify if the wins don’t start coming soon.
A worrying sign in proceedings is the fact Howe himself has admitted that this is his biggest test in management, while revealing that his side are struggling for confidence.
"It was two quite even teams up until the first goal but then psychologically we dipped,” Howe said after the Watford defeat.
"Confidence is such a key thing - we've been on a really difficult run - and when something goes wrong, sometimes you don't respond in the way you normally would.
"The manager always has to take responsibility when things aren't going well. Instilling confidence is what I have to do."
Time for Howe to go?
If this was just your average manager down the bottom of the Premier League table then he’d be on the verge, if not gone already, but Howe has a special relationship with Bournemouth after the journey he’s taken them on.
The stats don’t add up for him right now though, they’ve got just one win in 11 (with nine defeats) to gain just four points from a possible 33 in the 11 games they’ve played since beating Manchester United in November.
Looking back on their record over the last few years then it’s not uncommon to see a big dip in form during the season at the Vitality Stadium, but this time it just feels different.
Howe’s side hadn’t been in the bottom three since 2017 until the last week or so, and you’ve got to question whether they’ve got the fight to battle and scrap their way out of trouble - this is not a situation where you want to play your way out.
That’s exactly what Howe’s Bournemouth will continue to do though, they will try and play the way their manager wants them, but there just isn’t any wiggle room for them at this stage of the season and if they keep on trying to play pretty football they’ll end up slipping down to the Championship.
No team has lost more games than Bournemouth since they achieved promotion, and no side has conceded more goals since their first Premier League game in August 2015, and those two factors are symptomatic of their current situation.
They’re too easy to beat, they’ve won just one point from a losing position this season and that lack of heart, that lack of fight, is exactly what is missing and exactly the reason for their predicament.
Just look at Watford, they had the hunger and desire and that alone was enough to force their will upon a cowering Bournemouth – it was the manner of that loss even more than the bare result which suggested that Howe may not be the man to turn things around.
Howe has been consistently linked with other jobs throughout his tenure, and maybe he would succeed at a side that can afford to play the style of football he’s cultivated at Bournemouth, but that’s not what is needed right now.
Bournemouth need some spirit, they need some grit and determination and they may just need a new face in the dugout to deliver that.
Odds correct as of 1235pm on 13/01/20