After hours and hours and hours of silence Burnley finally made a statement on Eddie Howe this evening, writes Kevin Robinson.
The official line as played out by chief executive Lee Hoos is that Burnley have turned down “an unsolicited and unwanted approach for manager Eddie Howe”.
It’s not the statement that we expected – multiple sources at both ends of the country have been clear that the manager’s departure was a matter of when and not if.
When Hoos visited the training ground and Eddie, his team and the Club hid away in silence and it seemed the details were being ironed out to finalise his return to the south coast.
So what does it mean? In reality it tells us very little at all and it’s unclear why it took until 8pm given that speculation has been erupting all day.
Let’s go through the main points of the statement.
No agreement has been reached
“Burnley Football Club would like to stress that no agreement has been reached and Eddie Howe is still Burnley manager.”
Read: Negotiations are ongoing, give us more money
The language is telling here. The statement goes out of its way to avoid saying that we have rejected an approach. Instead they tell us ‘No agreement reached’, ‘no permission has been given’, ‘no agreement has been reached’ and ‘no permission has been granted’.
The timing of the statement – the approach was clearly made this morning yet it took until late this evening for anything official to come out – all but confirms that we have not said no to Bournemouth. The two clubs are locked in talks.
The extended negotiations are of little surprise – negotiations with Bournemouth will undoubtedly be more complex than they would be with any other club given we still have payments due to the Club for Marvin Bartley and Danny Ings.
As if it wasn’t clear enough – almost in sync with the Burnley statement was Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell telling the Daily Echo the two clubs were “close” to reaching an agreement.
An unwanted approach
“Bournemouth have made an unsolicited and unwanted approach for manager Eddie Howe.”
Read: Eddie has pushed this through
This is the most interesting line of the statement and taken at face value suggests we want Eddie Howe to remain as manager and are fighting to keep him.
The cynical view: that’s exactly how they want us to take it.
At a time when the Club and the board are coming in for more and more scrutiny losing our manager to a Club battling relegation in League One is going to be a PR disaster.
When Owen Coyle walked away, while the vast majority of hurt was directed in his direction the Club didn’t escape without criticism – many suggesting they didn’t fight hard enough to keep him. This way the Club are telling us explicitly that they are fighting for him, even if that’s not strictly the case.
This allows the Clarets to push all the blame on to Howe when he does eventually leave – he has gone against their will and against their efforts to retain him as manager.
It’s also important to remember that this is a negotiation and remember just what a negotiaion entails. Burnley are trying to get the best deal for Burnley, while Bournemouth are trying to get the best deal for Bournemouth.
Burnley are putting on their best poker face to try and get as much money from the Cherries as they can.
Read: Bye bye
When the story first broke last week we were given statements from both Lee Hoos and Eddie Howe. This time around it’s just Hoos.
“I think this is a Bournemouth story and one I don’t think I should comment on,” Howe said origionally.
“I am proud to be Burnley manager, we have a lot of work to do here and it’s still very early in the job.”
This time around Howe’s feelings are arguably more important than those of the chief executive. Sources close to both clubs have reported that Eddie was eager to return to Dorset and there have even been suggestions he actively encouraged Eddie Mitchell to make the approach. If this was false we would again have been given words from Eddie, even if as empty and meaningless as the ‘proud to be Burnley manager’ line from last week.
Howe’s comments are deafening in their omission – he wants the job.
What does it mean?
Summary: Eddie Howe will be gone within days
The Club have made it very easy to read between the lines here. Essentially what the statement tells us is that Eddie Howe will be Bournemouth manager as soon as we’ve got every penny we can from them.
What do you make of the statement? Comment below.