He played well over 200 times for AFC Bournemouth before returning for two spells as manager, during which he led them from League Two to the Premier League, but despite his long and hugely successful past association with the Cherries, Eddie Howe is focused only on Newcastle United this weekend.
After a fortnight without a game following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Magpies face Bournemouth at St. James’ Park on Saturday (kick-off 3pm BST) and with another break around the corner – this time for international fixtures – Howe is determined to lead his team to a second victory of the campaign.
His side were denied all three points against Crystal Palace last time out by a hugely controversial decision to chalk off a Tyrick Mitchell own-goal, which the referees’ body PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) subsequently acknowledged was the wrong call, but the head coach is hoping that nothing will stand in the way of his side and victory this weekend.
Here’s some of the other key points addressed by Howe in his pre-match media briefing on Friday morning…
On paying respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with tributes planned before and during the game:
“I think that’s the beauty of football, in moments like this national mourning for The Queen. I think the beauty of football is that we do get a chance to come together as a nation, up and down the country, and pay tribute to the fantastic life she had and what she did for our country. That’s what football does best, I think.”
On the chances of Callum Wilson, Bruno Guimarães and Allan Saint-Maximin returning from injury to face the Cherries:
“Everyone’s improved. I’ll leave my team news until the time when we get it. It’s been a slightly difficult period for us, but hopefully we’re coming out of that. They’re big players for us – we need them back quickly.
“Naturally when you’ve got a couple of injuries like we did have, more time is beneficial – but obviously the circumstances around that game being canceled were immensely sad.”
On whether the sidelined Jonjo Shelvey could return from a hamstring problem in the first half of the season:
“We hope so. Jonjo’s making good progress. He’s out on the grass, he’s running, he’s looking good. He’s in a really good physical condition, he’s looking after himself, so we anticipate that hopefully he won’t be too long.”
On Loris Karius, who joined the Magpies on a short-term deal following an injury to Karl Darlow:
“The injury to Darlow was strange, how he picked it up. He was just doing goalkeeping training with two or three goalkeepers, normal shot action, and just twisted his ankle. Then with that news, and our 25-man squad still being open at that stage, we decided it was wise to move for someone with experience who could complement the goalkeepers we have.
“Loris was the outstanding candidate when we looked at the goalkeepers available, which was quite a small pool. He’s a really good age, he’s had some incredible experiences in his career, and he’s come in and trained very well.
“I think there’s been a period where he hasn’t had that day-to-day contact with a team, so I think he’s improved and got better with every training session that we’ve had, and certainly he’s been really good with the team.”
On coming up against Bournemouth for the first time as a manager:
“It’s not just about me – we’ve got a lot of people who’ve got a lot of connections with the club. I personally feel a huge sense of gratitude to the club, to everyone connected with the club during my time there.
“I wouldn’t be sat in this position now if it wasn’t for AFC Bournemouth and I just want to say a big thank you to everyone there. Obviously we’re competing to win the game and desperate to do so, but it will be a special game.
“I do look back from time to time in terms of my work but in terms of sitting down and thinking about what we did, I’m not that way inclined. At this stage of my career, for me it’s always about the next achievement rather than looking back.
“Hopefully I’ll get gray and old and there will come a time when I probably will look at it differently, but at the moment it’s about the future and it’s about tomorrow.”
On seeing former friends and colleagues from his time at the Vitality Stadium:
“Steve Fletcher’s always there – touch wood, he’ll never leave! There’s a few constants there, brilliant people that have got Bournemouth in their hearts and I think every club needs that; we have people here – players, staff that have been here a long, long time, and the football club is their life.
“People that really make the club in my opinion. There’s a few people there who I haven’t really stayed in contact with a great deal because it’s difficult in my position – you have to move on and sever ties really, but they’re still with me and in my heart in some way.”
On Kieran Trippier and Nick Pope being named in the England squad to face Italy and Germany:
“It’s great to see players excel at club level and then take that form onto the international stage. Those two players are passionate about playing for their country, they want to go to the World Cup. They’re desperate to do so but they know that their performances here will dictate that so I think at the moment both of them are in a really good place, they’re performing well, and hopefully that continues.”
On the importance of picking up points before the international break:
“It’s a key stage, because we’ve gone from a period where we had game after game in a really short period of time, and how with the break last week we’ll have one game in four weeks. So that one game you have in that spell, you want it to be a good one.
“You want it to leave everyone with good energy, positive thinking about what’s going to happen beyond, so this is an important match for us.”