EDDIE Howe is passionate about a patient, passing game.
But for four days last week he had to play a patient waiting game, while Burnley and Bournemouth thrashed out a deal for his return. Despite the 34-year-old's compassionate reasons for wanting to leave – putting family before football – it was never going to be a straightforward exit.
He was 21 months into a three-and-a-half year deal. He had started a job that Burnley Football Club wanted him to finish. Personal circumstances – ones which, understandably, he preferred not to elaborate on – meant that he could no longer serve the length of his contract and see the task through.
He feels, however, he has made a good start for the next man. With the help of a top scoring former builder the foundations are in place.
“When we walked into the job that was the critical thing that was needed, and work on the infrastructure, facilities and staff.
“It meant a lot of work in that respect behind the scenes, but I do feel we were moving in the right direction,” said Howe, who made Charlie Austin – the country’s current top scorer – his first signing after taking the Turf Moor reins in January 2011.
“We’ve certainly gone a long way down the line and we feel the club is in a healthier position and hopefully whoever comes in now can take that forward.
“It’s a young squad now and a really good squad. “There are some really talented young players there – Danny Ings, Kieran Trippier, Ben Mee, Charlie Austin.
“In time, everything would have gelled in that respect.
“With the amount of goals we’ve scored, and conceded, this year it’s been an up and down season so far, but any team that scores goals like we have has a chance of being successful.
“It’s going to be difficult because you’re competing against richer sides.
“But anything can still be achievable this year. I really believe that.
“With Martin Paterson and Chris McCann there from previous regimes, Dean Marney and Lee Grant.
“There’s a lot of quality in the squad.”
Howe was speaking soon after leaving his house in Greater Manchester and starting the journey to the south coast – a route he has taken many times in almost two years, but this time was the last.
He had waited a while to make it. But he could not have foreseen this outcome when he took the job less than two years ago.
Howe had previously courted interest from Charlton, Crystal Palace, Peterborough and Southampton.
He has ambition, and carefully weighed up his options before dismissing those offers and choosing Burnley as his next move.
After leaving Bournemouth and League One behind, he was only looking up.
But the birth of his first child 14 months ago, followed by the sudden death of his mother, Annie, earlier this year had a profound impact on Howe and his family, and ultimately diverted the path his career had taken.
“We were enjoying the job, and desperately wanted to take the club forward, but in the circumstances this was something I had to do,” said Howe of his Bournemouth return.
“In my personal life there have been life-changing events.
“I know the responsibility that comes with the job I was in, I feel that responsibility, and that’s why I haven’t taken the decision lightly.
“I wouldn’t have left for anybody but Bournemouth.”
It says much about the character and honesty of the former Bournemouth and Portsmouth defender that he did not jump the gun on starting his journey back though.
He sat tight until both the Clarets and the Cherries had reached an agreement.
After four days of painstaking negotiations, Howe was given the green light to go home on Friday night.
“I understand why it dragged on. I’m pleased Burnley have been well compensated for our services. That was important from my respect,” he said.
“Burnley treated me very well.
“Everyone at the club is hopefully happy with the (financial) return and hopefully that will help them to make the right appointment.
“Doing things properly, honestly and above board was a high priority for me because of the people I respect so much at the football club.”
In summing up his time at Turf Moor he added: “For us it’s been a huge challenge.
“From a financial perspective we’ve brought in good money in transfer fees, we’ve reduced the wage bill, we’ve lowered the average age of the squad.
“We haven’t had the consistent run of results that we all crave but when you put all those things tog-ether it’s not going to be conducive to a consistent run of results.
“Hopefully we’ve played our part in a rosy future for the club, but it’s for other people to judge our time in charge.
“We’ve done our best to try to promote a long-term plan for the best for the club.
“There’s stability in the boardroom, and they have been fantastic with me and my team and helped us to implement what we wanted to do.
“I only wish Burnley the very best. Whoever takes the job will be taking over a fantastic football club.”