hen Eddie Howe called Jason Tindall to tell him he would be taking a break from management, the latter’s holiday in Croatia was about to get a lot more hectic. “Every couple of hours I had my son in my ear, saying: ‘Dad, are you going to be a manager, are you going to be manager?’” says Tindall, smiling. “The more I said to him: ‘I’m not sure,’ he said: ‘Well, what else are you going to do?’ When I asked myself that question, it made my decision that little bit easier.”
Tindall, whose 10-year-old son, Levi, is in the club’s academy, returned to Bournemouth last Friday and, having sought assurances from the club’s Russian owner, Maxim Demin, that there would not be a mass exodus of prized assets, he signed a three-year contract to succeed Howe, with whom he played before sharing an office for 12 years after 569 matches as his assistant manager.
Together they went on a remarkable journey, from putting their hands in their own pockets to cover the cost of a fitness coach and masseur in League Two to the heady days of the Premier League, where they spent five seasons before relegation last month, prompting Howe’s departure that signalled the end of an era.
Nathan Aké has since joined Manchester City for £41m, while Sheffield United are expected to increase their offer for their former goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale after having a £12m bid rejected. Callum Wilson and Joshua King, who is out of contract next summer, are also likely to depart but Bournemouth are determined to compete for promotion next season.
“If the club turned around and said: ‘There’s going to be a fire sale, you’re going to end up losing eight or nine players,’ then I wouldn’t be sitting in this seat now,” Tindall says.
He insists he will not be Howe’s “clone” but recognises he could scarcely have had a better apprenticeship and acknowledges that following in the footsteps of the club’s greatest ever manager has the makings of a trying task, with Howe’s departure leaving behind a similarly shaped hole to when Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger departed Manchester United and Arsenal respectively or, more recently, when Paul Tisdale relinquished his title as the country’s longest-serving manager after 12 years at Exeter City.
“I think for anyone replacing Ed, trying to fill his shoes is a tough, tough task, as was Ferguson and other guys,” says Tindall. “But is there anyone that knows the football club better than me? Is there any guarantee with anyone else stepping in that the club would achieve success? From my point of view, I have learned and lived by Ed who is one of the best managers and coaches out there. The pressure is there, always, but I feel I am ready to take the club forward and hopefully get back to the Premier League.”
Tindall played for Senrab, the east London team formed by his father, Jimmy, where John Terry and Jermain Defoe started their careers, and spent five years on the books of Arsenal. In the early days of his coaching career, he and Howe visited Wenger at training on numerous occasions.
“When you first step into coaching you’re so wet behind the ears so to speak, with so much to learn,” he says. “We were fortunate enough to go and watch Arsène and Arsenal work. We were big fans of the way they played and his philosophy and that was a really big driving force in terms of what we wanted to try and bring to Bournemouth.”
Tindall, who has a Uefa pro licence – the highest coaching qualification in the game – believes he can lead Bournemouth back to the Premier League at the first attempt. As an internal appointment, continuity also presents challenges. Gareth Ainsworth, the Wycombe manager, highlighted the importance of shifting from “Gaz” to “gaffer” in his players’ eyes after initially struggling to assert his authority among former teammates, while last week Harry Redknapp explained how calling the shots as a manager compared to being a coach “is a different ball game” – in effect how leaving out players from starting lineups can cause your popularity to plummet.
There are already decisions to make before Bournemouth return to pre-season training on Monday. Before then, determining the futures of Simon Francis – the club captain – Andrew Surman and Charlie Daniels is high on the to-do list.
Not that taking charge is alien to Tindall, who found himself in at the deep end as player-manager at then fifth-tier Weymouth in 2007. “I only went there to train for a few days with some friends, [but] all of a sudden the club went bankrupt, pretty much everyone left and I had someone come to me asking if I’d like to manage the team, which was about six players at the time,” he says. “It was a great learning curve. It was something at the time I wasn’t prepared for but it was part of the journey I’ve had up until now.”