Football Manager 2017: Bournemouth Episode Two
One challenge of managing Bournemouth is replacing a manager that’s actually pretty bloody good.
For those who don’t know, Eddie Howe took over a club from the brink of relegation from the Football League (to what is now the called Vanarama National League and presumably chaired by the bloke with the deep voice from the advert).
Despite a 17-point deduction he saved them from their Vanarama fate and brought them up through the leagues and all the way to the top. He even managed to keep them in the Premier League with much of the same squad, and all while playing some ballsy attacking football.
It was fair to say the fans weren’t happy hiring a man with only Sunday League playing experience, no coaching badges and a solitary runners-up trophy from his days playing on the wing at Shoreditch under-12s to replace him.
It will be a tall ask, but Henry needs to make the supporters forget about Howe – the equivalent of the handsome boyfriend that left to do missionary work in Africa – and fall in love with McHipster – the man who plays Football Manager in his room but has some fetching scarves and a half-decent vinyl collection.
First he had to get to grips with the team. Apparently the boys are well-equipped for possession football – which is handy as it’s one of the aims the board has set. It also said there is great depth in the squad with four right-backs, which is useful if for some reason we end up playing four right-backs…
One concern is there is apparently a ‘lack of leadership’ among the boys. While Henry got a Silver Duke of Edinburgh award, it may be an area that needs addressing when we dip our toes into the transfer market.
Overall though, the squad looks in pretty decent shape, so I decided to take a look at the staff Henry would be working with. One name that immediately jumped out was ‘Andy Howe’, who was indeed listed as a ‘relative’ to dear Eddie. A bit of digging and I found out he was in fact Eddie Howe’s nephew who had been working with his uncle since he was 15 and followed him around ever since. Employing family members with no coaching experience seemed a bit dodgy – perhaps Howe really would be perfect for England.
If I was to establish Henry as a South Coast kingpin, we couldn’t have family members hanging around the club. I’ve seen Game of Thrones and I know how these things go down. Andy was gone.
Having sifted through the coaches and physios I decided a few peoples’ stats weren’t up to scratch and terminated their contracts (sorry Ben Donachie, but your kids aren’t getting iPads for Christmas). There was a female head-physio called Victoria McIntyre whose attributes weren’t great but, after what happened when Eva Carniero was dismissed at Chelsea, I decided to keep her around.
The final order of business before, y’know, winning the football, was to pick some players for our pre-season tour. Apparently the lads (and Victoria) are off to Singapore. Shame it isn’t Thailand – we all know what happened when Leicester City went there…
There was a friendly match against Bournemouth under-23s the next day. With the fans already against his appointment, it was important Henry bagged an early win for morale. Plus, it’s just embarrassing losing to the kids (just ask Aston Villa). A winning tactic was a must.
Having read Shoot magazine from a young age, Henry knows his tactics. His hipster tendencies made him desperate to play with an Enganche, Regista or inverted wing-backs but for now he only had the players for a solid 4-2-3-1. He wasn’t about to rock the boat just yet.
With possession football the aim, it was decided ‘Shorter Passing’, ‘Retain Possession’ and ‘Work Ball Into Box’ would be the way to go in terms of team instructions. It was time to see how this would work in practice however.
The answer was pretty well. Bournemouth passed the ball around pretty well and kept the under-23s at bay with ease. It took Callum Wilson only four minutes to score from a Jordan Ibe cross. The crowd went wild as Henry looked on indifferently with folded arms.
Just under 20 minutes later and it was 2-0. Captain Steve Cook (not to be mistaken for Captain James Cook, the explorer) headed in from Jack Wilshere’s cross. It looked like the floodgates were about to open.
But open they did not, as Bournemouth under-23s firmed up their defence. I wouldn’t go as far to say completely solid – more like a dam built from chewed wood than the kind of wall Donald Trump probably thinks about before he goes to sleep.
In the end Simon Francis put the gloss on the win as he headed home from Junior Stanislas Baratheon’s corner. The Cherries ran out 3-0 winners and although they only managed 50% possession (the board will have a fit when OptaJoe tells them that), nobody got injured and it was a good performance overall.
All in all, it was a good start for Henry. Things were looking better for him than Eddie Howe, anyway. Jose Antonio Camacho – who apparently last managed China in 2013 – somehow got the England manager’s job as Howe was overlooked again.
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