The Premier League this weekend features just three Saturday games and two Sunday games due to a clash with the FA Cup weekend, meaning that there will be more emphasis on those sides that are playing. One of those games, taking place at Dean Court, sees Bournemouth host Newcastle as Eddie Howe and Rafa Benitez go head-to-head.
The Magpies go into the game in better form having won three and drawn one of their last five games, whilst the Cherries have picked up just four points from their last available 15. The matchup between the two midtable sides will certainly be an interesting one as the old-timer who’s won it all in Rafa Benitez travels to face the up and coming super-manager-to-be in Eddie Howe.
You only have to look at Rafa Benitez’s trophy cabinet to understand how well-respected he is in football. The former Napoli, Liverpool Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan boss, to name a few of his ex-clubs, is now residing in the Northeast of England where he has an entire legion of Geordies behind him, supporting his every move, and it isn’t hard to see why when you consider his achievements at St James Park.
In the last three years since his appointment in March 2016 the Spaniard has seen the Magpies relegated from the Premier League after he jumped aboard a sinking ship, swiftly brought them back above water and then guided them to a 10th placed finish in their first season back. The current season has been a shaky one, but the 2005 Champions League winner has started to get his side back on track, and a win at Dean Court would be a great example of that.
TT GRADE: A
Eddie Howe is a credit to young English managers. At the age of just 41, the Dean Court boss is the longest-serving gaffer in the Premier League having been appointed in charge of the Cherries way back in October 2012. However, signs of stagnation still aren’t showing as the ex-Burnley man continues to show what he’s all about, playing progressive attacking football in the top flight.
The only slight issue that Howe has in this current Bournemouth side is that the Cherries ship goals for fun. If he could tighten up his side at the back then there’s no reason why he couldn’t have the Cherries competing amongst the likes of Wolves, Watford and West Ham for the title of ‘the best of the rest’ outside of the top six, and with his side in a respectable 12th place, a win against Rafa’s Geordies could help him on his way there.
TT GRADE: B
There is absolutely no shame in a manager like Eddie Howe coming in second when compared to a great of the modern game like Rafa Benitez. The Bournemouth man is a whopping 17-years-younger than Benitez and has plenty of time to learn the game and become successful like Rafa, but until then it’s impossible for Benitez to not win this battle over the impressive Englishman.