Sheffield United: Rival boss Eddie Howe backs The Blades to be a hit in the Premier League

Eddie Howe knows the challenges facing Chris Wilder and his Sheffield United side as, following two promotions in the space of only 35 months, they attempt to establish themselves in the Premier League.

Sunday, 11th August 2019, 12:34 pm
Updated Sunday, 11th August 2019, 18:25 pm
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder (left), AFC Bournemouth assistant manager Jason Tindall, and manager Eddie Howe (right): Mark Kerton/PA Wire.

AFC Bournemouth completed a similar journey under the 41-year-old's stewardship, climbing out of League Two and into the top-flight during his first eight and a bit seasons - interrupted by a brief sojourn at Burnley - at the helm.

So after watching Billy Sharp's late goal secure a point for United at The Vitality Stadium, Wilder and his team will have been encouraged by Howe's post-match assessment of their credentials. Particularly, given the Bournemouth manager's reputation as a shrewd tactician, the part where he described them as being "very difficult" to outsmart.

"They (United) are a very good," Howe said, despite admitting he was disappointed with Bournemouth's own attention to detail. "They've got a way of playing, a way of going about things, that's different and very difficult to play against. They showed they can change, as well. Yes, there's going to be times when it's tough and you have to dig in, we know that from experience. But to do what they've done, we also know you have to do some exceptional things. I've got a lot of respect for them."

Bournemouth, who took the lead when Chris Mepham scrambled home midway through the second period, spent hours analysing and studying United's strategy ahead of kick-off. With strong, determined personalities being a pre-requisite for any club hoping to reach, let alone establish itself at the highest level, Howe was not surprised by the desire the visitors demonstrated to drag themselves back from the brink. But one sensed, as he continued the trace the course of the game, he had been taken slightly aback by their strategic flexibility. With time ebbing away, United changed shape on three or four occasions during the closing stages of a fixture which proved a test of both squad's intelligence and industry.

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"You expected them to keep going," Howe said. "They showed the bravery to do that, not to give up and take something away with them. Everybody likes to think they can do that, but it's not always the case. That should serve them well for what's ahead."