Bournemouth show Howe it can be done!

The boss: Eddie Howe has presided over a remarkable turnaround in fortunes since returning as Bournemouth manager
The boss: Eddie Howe has presided over a remarkable turnaround in fortunes since returning as Bournemouth manager
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It’s ironic that Bournemouth will be the first opponents for Preston since opting for a change of manager.

The Cherries went down the sacking route earlier this season, removing Paul Groves from office and bringing Eddie Howe back to the south coast.

And they’re a shining example of how a change at the top can be successful.

Bournemouth were fourth from bottom when Howe quit Burnley in October to return for a second spell in charge at Dean Court.

They arrive at Deepdale tomorrow as League One leaders following an astonishing transformation under the 35-year-old.

Under Howe’s stewardship, they’ve won 17 games, drawn six and lost just twice.

One of those defeats was to Premier League side Wigan in the FA Cup.

Bournemouth went top on Tuesday night after a 2-1 away win over Crewe.

It was their fifth victory on the bounce, that run quite a response to their only league defeat to date under Howe at Walsall last month ago.

After working up such a head of steam, they are now the bookies’ favourites for the title.

Reflecting on going top of the pile, Howe said: “Now we are top of the league, we are there to be shot at.

“We are the scalp that everybody wants so we are going to have to make sure we adapt to that and use it to our advantage and try and use it in a positive way.

“A lot of people talk about pressure at the top but, for me, you won’t find any more pressure than when you are at the bottom and scrapping for points.

“I think you should, as much as you can, try to enjoy being at the top of the league and try to really enjoy that pressure that comes with being successful.

“If you can’t enjoy being top of the league and in that position, then you are not going to enjoy anything in football.

“The players shouldn’t be feeling any pressure.

“We are a club which has gone through a lot of changes in the past few years but it is not very common that we have been in this position in our history.”

It’s fair to say that Howe didn’t inherit a poor squad, rather one which was badly under-performing at this level.

Backed by money from Russian backer Maxim Demin, plenty of funds were made available to Howe’s predecessor Groves.

And Howe was busy in the January transfer window, signing winger Matt Ritchie from Swindon for £400,000.

Striker Brett Pitman had his loan from Bristol City turned into a permanent deal, and young Scottish prospect Ryan Fraser joined from Aberdeen.

Pitman, who like Howe is back for his second spell at Bournemouth, is set to partner top scorer Lewis Grabban in the attack against North End.

Grabban has scored 13 league goals, with Pitman netting nine times.