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The tragic death of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others recently put football on hold for a few days as we all took time to review our own mortality.
Like other tragedies before (Munich and the more recent plane crash in Colombia that wiped out an entire Brazilian football team), sport will always take a back seat for a a few days or weeks while we share joint grief over the deaths of people who have contributed so much to the game loved by billions around the world.
For Leicester players, staff and fans it was a tough week before they headed to Cardiff City and an emotional pre-game remembrance before Demarai Gray clinched victory for the Foxes.
In a previous business life, working in the game, I often travelled in, or organized helicopter travel for football owners – never once thinking I was at risk of crashing, let alone dying.
How cruel life can be sometimes – but life, as they say, has to go on and Leicester City proved that with a 1-0 victory in Wales.
The Foxes have been quiet achievers -– mid-table ‘average’ – for most of the 2018-19 season, but I wonder if this tragedy might galvanise the squad to begin to put a run together.
Motivation comes in many forms and out of such tragic circumstances, it may well prove that for Clause Puel’s side as we head towards the half-way mark and the busy Christmas period.
With Liverpool and Manchester City favourites for honours there are still a few others chasing top six spots – and one in particular a newcomer to such dizzy heights.
No bookie in the land would have given odds on AFC Bournemouth sitting in sixth place at the beginning of November.
Last year it took them until the New Year to amass the points they currently have.
But the Cherries under coach Eddie Howe are the ‘Leicester City’ of this season, with a fast-paced, high pressing game that even had Manchester United on the ropes for 45 minutes.
Howe, a former player at the club, has overseen a transformation like no other on the south coast. Remember it was not too many years ago (10 to be precise) they were in what we still call the Fourth Division.
Administration and financial meltdown – a club looking to exit the Football League via the trapdoor of relegation, not via promotion to the Premier League.
What a difference a decade makes. Add Howe, a young coach forced to retire as player at the age of 29, and the journey began.
Howe’s first spell saw the club promoted to league One before he headed north to Burnley – the Clarets obviously seeing something on this youthful young man.
When he returned to Dorset in October 2012 it was the start of a fairytale journey that would see them reach the promised land within three years.
Favourites for relegation in their first two seasons, the Cherries are now firmly established as a Premier League club, despite their modest surroundings – a stadium with a capacity of just 10,500 – and without the wealth of those they now sit among in that top six group.
Russian money and then a US hedge fund investment has enabled growth. And what growth!
Howe has scouted the land for players to fit into his way of playing, a high tempo, often complicated system where fitness is key, alongside the ability to play in many systems.
Three or four at the back; one, two or three up front, wide men, and all often interchanging. It has been a while in development – last year they still looked vulnerable at the back, but that has changed.
Howe has clearly worked on that with Dutchman Nathan Ake, the key man. But look at that defence, which apart from Ake, cost almost nothing in Premier League terms. Fullback, and sometimes centre back Simon Francis, cost $500,000. Others for similar fees.
It is only in recent years has Howe splashed the cash – Jordon Ibe was until last year at $30m – their record signing, from Liverpool. Colombian Jefferson Lerma was double that when he signed from Spanish club Levante earlier this year, after a successful World Cup.
Lewis Cook was signed from Leeds in 2016 and has slowly grown into a Premier League player. He even captained England to under-20 World Cup success – their first major trophy since 1966.
Then this pre-season Howe reached down to the Football League to pluck another youngster. $21m prized David Brooks from Sheffield United as many asked, David who?
Brooks, a former Manchester City youngster, born in Warrington,  but with a Welsh mum – hence the current Wales allegiance –  was signed by the Blades in 2016 for, wait for it, $250 a week. Yes, there are bargains to be found in the lower leagues.
A man of the tournament performance at the prestigious Toulon event in France soon saw the youngster graduate into the Blades’ first team and the rest is history.
Howe snapped him up during the pre-season and the 21-year-old has quickly developed into a star in the making.
The problem Bournemouth now have is when (not if) a big club comes knocking, can they stand in Howe’s way?
At 41, he is a new breed of English coach. Some say a future England manager. Right now Eddie Howe is totally in love with his AFC Bournemouth project.
His ability to find and develop young talent is being watched by many. Individuals – is being noticed in boardrooms.
There is much still to do on the south coast, and if a new planned stadium comes to fruition, coupled with more investment, he may achieve even more. But if a Liverpool or a Manchester United come calling?

FIXTURES

Saturday 10 November 2018
Cardiff v Brighton
Huddersfield v West Ham
Leicester v Burnley
Newcastle v Bournemouth
Southampton v Watford
Saturday 10 November 2018
Crystal Palace v Spurs
Liverpool v Fulham
Chelsea v Everton
Sunday 11 November 2018
Arsenal v Wolves
Man City v Man Utd
Saturday 24 November 2018
Brighton v Leicester
Everton v Cardiff
Fulham v Southampton
Man Utd v Crystal Palace
Watford v Liverpool
West Ham v Man City
Spurs v Chelsea
Sunday 25 November
Bournemouth v Arsenal
Wolves v Huddersfield
Monday 26 November
Burnley v Newcastle
Saturday 1 December 2018
Cardiff v Wolves
Crystal Palace v Burnley
Huddersfield v Brighton
Leicester v Watford
Man City v Bournemouth
Newcastle v West Ham
Southampton v Man Utd
Sunday 2 December
Chelsea v Fulham
Arsenal v Spurs
Liverpool v Everton

Golden Boot race

Player Goals Assists Mins per goal Mins played
Hazard
Chelsea 7 3 95 667 14 79
Aubameyang
Arsenal 7 1 110 767 16 63
Wilson
Bournemouth 6 4 161 967 25 52
Aguero
Man City 6 2 108 648 29 48
Kane
Tottenham 6 1 164 984 29 66
Richarlison
Everton 6 0 125 719 14 50
Murray
Brighton 6 0 140 842 13 54
Mane
Liverpool 6 0 147 882 20 65