Tuesday 22 August 2017

Eddie Howe impressed by Craig Shakespeare at Leicester

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe (left) has been impressed by the way Leicester have responded under caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe (left) has been impressed by the way Leicester have responded under caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe feels interim boss Craig Shakespeare has done an "outstanding job" to guide Leicester through a testing spell and see them ready for another Premier League challenge next season.

The Foxes have ended the campaign safe in mid-table having at one stage looked set to be going from champions to the Championship before manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked at the end of February.

Over the closing months of the season, former assistant Shakespeare has overseen an upturn in fortunes as well as take the east midlands club into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where they were edged out by Atletico Madrid.

It remains to be seen whether Shakespeare will be given the job full time at the King Power Stadium next season, but Howe has been impressed as he prepares to take the Cherries to Leicester for Sunday's Premier League finale.

"I think he (Shakespeare) has done an outstanding job," said Howe, whose own side also pulled clear of the relegation scrap after losing just two matches from the past 10.

"When he took over, they were in trouble - a lot of teams were, including us to try to stay in the league.

"Leicester had a really tough run of fixtures, and I don't think that should be underestimated, and they were involved in the Champions League. When you have that level of tournament within your league programme, it can be very difficult to manage the league programme while that is there.

"They did that very well and managed to pick up some big wins (in the Premier League) and now they look very comfortable in the position they are in - it is actually difficult to remember how difficult a position they were in."

While Leicester's form has improved since the change in the dugout, Howe does not believe their style of play has altered from what brought them an unlikely title triumph 12 months ago.

"Tactically and personnel wise, I don't think they are too different, there are subtle differences, but nothing to make you think you are playing a totally different team," Howe said.

"Their strengths are obvious ones they had in their title winning season - the way they counter, the pace they have in their team and they have potential match winners in the side.

"I don't think it is a massively different test, but everyone knew how they played last season, stopping them was incredibly difficult so if they are at the top of their game it will be a very tough afternoon for us."

Leicester were thumped 6-1 by Tottenham on Thursday night, so will be looking to sign off with a much-improved performance against Bournemouth.

Howe intends to tackle their 38th game just as any other in the Premier League this season and will resist the temptation to make too many alterations to the side, with prize money up for grabs as the Cherries target a potential finish of eighth place.

"We don't want to do anything that will have too much of an effect on the team," said Howe.

"We are reluctant to make too many changes because we are chasing the wins and every position in the league is worth so much."

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