BURNLEY are bracing themselves for the departure of manager Eddie Howe.
The Clarets boss is on the brink of returning to his former club AFC Bournemouth, where he was last week installed as the Cherries’ No.1 choice to replace Paul Groves.
Family reasons are thought to be the overriding factor in Howe’s decision to return to the south coast.
Howe took training as scheduled on Wednesday and this morning, as his return home has seemingly only delayed by the compensation package.
That will need to take into consideration Howe’s backroom staff – assistant Jason Tindall, fitness coach Jon Dalzell, academy manager Jason Blake and scout Des Taylor – as well as money outstanding for the transfers of Marvin Bartley and Danny Ings to Turf Moor, though Bartley could also return to Dean Court.
The club insisted it was “business as usual” this morning, but sources close to Howe and Bournemouth suggested it was virtually a done deal.
I understand the parties met over the week and Burnley gave Howe their blessing to leave, with the switch expected to go through on Wednesday, only to meet a snag over compensation.
MK Dons boss Karl Robinson was also in the frame for the post at Dean Court – although the Cherries immediately set their sights on Howe after dispensing with Groves’ services last Wednesday.
Last Thursday morning, Howe delivered a statement in his pre-match press conference, saying: “This is a Bournemouth story, it’s not really one I should comment on. But I’m proud to be Burnley manager, we’ve just started the job and we feel there’s a long way to go.”
Earlier, chief executive Lee Hoos had also made the club’s position clear: “Burnley Football Club would not welcome any approach for Eddie Howe from any club.
“We are in the process of building for the future with Eddie and his staff and speculation is an unwanted distraction.”
But Bournemouth remained confident they could land the 34-year-old, who played for and managed the club, remaining the odds-on favourite for the post over the week.
Bournemouth chairman, Eddie Mitchell would only say on Wednesday that figures of £1.4m in compensation reported in a national newspaper were wide of the mark.
He said: “It is just not feasible for the club to offer £1.4m – whether it be for Eddie Howe or Sir Alex Ferguson.”
But certainly the Cherries will have to stump up a significant sum to prise Howe away, with his contract running until the summer of 2014.
Should Howe go – and until he leaves, anything remains possible following his U-turn at Bournemouth in January 2011 – speculation has already begun as to who his successor would be.
Bolton Wanderers’ sacking of Owen Coyle on Tuesday could not have been timed more coincidentally, though four of the five board members at Burnley were at the club when he left for the Reebok Stadium, and the hurt he caused is still palpable, if Clive Holt’s emotional speech at Barry Kilby’s chairman’s dinner in May is anything to go by.
A vast amount of supporters would also rail against such a return.
Up and coming young managers – with a Burnley connection – will also feature promimently on fans’ forums, such as Fleetwood Town’s Micky Mellon, Paul Cook of Accrington Stanley, Crewe boss Steve Davis or Warren Joyce – Manchester United’s reserve team boss.
Out of work managers Mick McCarthy and Billy Davies are likely to be put off by the budget they would have to work with – one of the lowest in the Championship – and there is the further complication that Bolton and Blackburn Rovers are also looking for a new manager.