Once billed as one of English football’s brightest managerial talents, Eddie Howe is approaching the one-year anniversary of being unemployed, or sabbatical if you wish to call it that.
It is a strange situation that while jobs become available, he remains unattached as opportunities to return to management continue to pass him by.
That is despite the fact there have been five vacancies at Premier League clubs this summer and countless jobs that would intrigue coaches with his background.
Howe had set his sights on getting back into the dugout after a break from the game, having left Bournemouth in August 2020 when the Cherries were relegated from the Premier League.
It was understandable that he wished to recharge his batteries and rediscover his love for the game simply by observing it, as opposed to jumping into another job straightaway.
But every football manager will want the chance to prove themselves again at a new club and Howe is surely no different.
So, why hasn’t a move materialised and what is stopping Howe from hauling himself back into football management?
Achievements at Bournemouth
When Howe took over as a caretaker manager at the age of 31 in 2008, Bournemouth were a little-known entity outside of the UK.
Down in League Two and plagued by financial problems, Howe was forced to cope with very little resources. The South Coast outfit started the 2008-09 season on -17 points but under his guidance, incredibly survived relegation on the final day.
After a brief spell with Burnley, Howe returned home and took Bournemouth to the promised land of the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2014-15. For a club of their size, it was a remarkable achievement.
But what was even more special was Howe’s ability to keep them in the top flight year-on-year, even securing their best-ever finish of eighth in 2016-17.
Alas, it wouldn’t last forever. Some poor recruitment with big-money signings and a leaky backline meant Bournemouth’s five-year stay in the top flight came to an end in 2019-20.
Shortly after, Howe and the club came to a mutual decision to part ways: "Having spent a total of 25 years with the club as both a player and a manager, this decision - made together with the club - is one of the hardest I've ever had to make."
This was the club where Howe had spent a combined 25 years as a player and manager, so leaving was not an easy decision. But with eyes on his next project, it was probably the right one.
Premier League interest fades
When Crystal Palace announced Roy Hodgson would be retiring from football in May, there was a natural clamour for names to be put forward — and Howe was among those at the top of the pile.
But no offer arrived. Similarly, Everton lost Carlo Ancelotti and Tottenham sacked Jose Mourinho, but as far as we know, the Englishman has not been contacted.
There is something to be said about why Howe has been overlooked. His brand of football is positive, even if his defensive record isn’t. But having only managed Bournemouth and Burnley in his career, there may be concerns over his ability to manage a club with a bigger stature.
That Palace and Everton have both approached Nuno Espirito Santo, while Tottenham continue to look at high-profile foreign candidates, suggests Howe is not in the running for those jobs.
At the peak of his powers, he was linked with top clubs such as Arsenal. But relegation is something you can never remove from a CV and there is no doubt his reputation has taken a hit.
Perhaps by staying loyal to Bournemouth, Howe has harmed his chances of landing a job with the ‘big six’.
Celtic had waited and waited for Eddie Howe, putting off negotiations until the summer at his request.
But the 43-year-old produced a shock when he announced he would be turning down the opportunity to take control of the Scottish giants, citing “reasons outwith both his and our control”.
It remains a mystery why the former Bournemouth boss decided against the move, but according to BBC Sport, the breakdown in talks centred around assembling his backroom team.
Celtic said they would “focus on other targets” and quickly moved to hire Ange Postecogolu, the former Australia head coach in charge of J-League outfit Yokohama Marinos, on a 12-month rolling contract.
Howe, meanwhile, remains without a club heading into the new season, carefully mulling over his next challenge after rejecting the Hoops.
It is inevitable that Howe will not be out of work for too long, such is the frenetic and ever-changing nature of English football.
If a manager is sacked after a poor start to the season, he will be one of the names in the hat to pick from. However, looking at West Brom, the Baggies would prefer to chase Barnsley's Valerien Ismael than take a punt on Howe.
Graham Potter has been linked with Tottenham and Howe, with his brand of football and experience of life on the South Coast, would be a prime candidate to replace him.
But it would make sense for Howe to ease himself back into management, and that could mean taking a club from the Championship back up to the top flight, proving his worth as a manager once again.
His focus on bringing through young players and his preference to sign British players would make him an interesting candidate for the England Under-21s, after Aidy Boothroyd decided to step down in April.
For his sake, he will be hoping an opportunity arises sooner rather than later.