Isolated and alone: Celtic target on the making of his managerial career at Portsmouth

Eddie Howe believes his Pompey injury nightmare made him a better manager.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 6:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 7:59 pm

But the former Blues defender has told how he felt ‘isolated’ and ‘alone’ at Fratton Park following the injury which wrecked his playing career.

Howe was Harry Redknapp’s first signing as Pompey manager after he arrived at Fratton Park in March 2002, sealing a £400,000 move from Bournemouth.

But his time at PO4 took a dark turn when he suffered a knee injury on the opening day of the 2002-03 season against Nottingham Forest. His career was never the same again.

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Howe often cut a disconsolate figure at Pompey’s Eastleigh training ground through his rehabilitation and he never made another appearance in royal blue, before returning to Dean Court in 2004.

Now he has spoken of a desperate period in his life, and the impact that had on shaping his managerial career.

In an interview with The Coaches’ Voice, Howe said: ‘There’s no doubt that my injuries accelerated my move into coaching. Without them I would have continued to play; with them, I was forced to look at the game differently.

Eddie Howe. Picture: Scott Heavey/PA Wire

‘I knew I wouldn’t be playing very long after the serious injury I got at Portsmouth I was well aware that my career was going to be cut short – I could feel it in my body – so I was looking at alternative ways to find employment in the game.

‘There’s also no doubt that that period has made me a better manager. I felt very isolated and alone – not through any fault of Portsmouth – and, when you’re in that place, you feel detached from the bubble that is football.

‘Even though I wouldn’t have wanted it for myself at the time, in hindsight it was probably a very good thing for me.’

Howe has also told how watching Redknapp and his assistant Jim Smith work, was helpful in his coaching education.

Eddie Howe up against Richard Hughes during training at Eastleigh in their Pompey days. Picture: Steve Reid

The 43-year-old explained how their approach was poles apart from his former Bournemough manager Sean O’Driscoll, who is now part of the Pompey academy set-up.

He said: ‘Harry, and his assistant Jim Smith (both below), were really good. They were totally different again to Sean (O’Driscoll), but I learned a lot – even if injuries meant I didn’t really kick a ball for them.

‘I was watching a lot, and analysing from afar. Theirs was a team that got promoted to the Premier League, and stayed in the Premier League. It was a great experience.’

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