AFC Bournemouth v Leyton Orient, 3pm
13 October ~ Despite languishing in the League One relegation zone, the mood at Bournemouth will have been lifted by the return of Eddie Howe. Today's match against Orient will come too soon for the new-old manager, who left the Cherries to take over at Burnley in 2011, to be in charge of the team but the homecoming of a crowd favourite will boost the fans, who have expressed their discontent with the poor start and running of the club by chairman Eddie Mitchell. Howe replaces Paul Groves who never endeared himself to the fans with some dull football, a constantly changing team and an uninspiring public demeanour.
Groves's unhappy spell as Bournemouth manager – he is holder of the briefest tenure at the club with only 18 league games in charge – was ended by Mitchell on October 3, the day after a 3-1 loss away to Crawley. Two days earlier Mitchell told the local paper he had "no immediate intention to relieve anybody of their duties".
With six managers in seven years this scattergun approach to managerial hiring is replicated on the playing side; the club now have over 30 professionals, a far cry from a few seasons ago when the matchday squad couldn't boast a full complement of substitutes. Six-figure sums have been splashed out for midfielder Shaun MacDonald and striker Matt Tubbs, while Dutch players have been plucked from the top flight in Germany and the Netherlands with decreasing returns on the pitch.
This new recruitment policy is bankrolled by Russian businessman Maxim Demin, who lives locally in the super-affluent Sandbanks neighbourhood. Variously described as a petrochemical millionaire or billionaire his exact riches, terms of investment and motivation are a mystery as he remains as tight-lipped as fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich.
Previous managerial appointments under Mitchell have been proudly trumpeted for their lack of cost as both Groves and his predecessor Lee Bradbury were promoted internally. The reappointment of Howe will mean compensation being paid to Burnley – a national newspaper states that the full figure could be over £1 million – which is quite a reversal of policy. With new Russian investment you might think that money was no object for the Cherries but just last month chief scout Steve Gritt left by "mutual consent" – his position remains unfilled as the club hierarchy state that games can be reviewed on DVD more cheaply.
Such decisions have baffled fans unhappy with how the newfound riches have been spent. Questions remain over why Howe would want to leave a team in a higher division to come back to a club he seemed keen to leave two years ago. However, an answer to that won't be required by the Bournemouth faithful just yet, especially if the first home three points of the seasons can be won today. Simon Melville