This might be controversial but it isn’t a knee jerk reaction. I don’t envy the decision the board are going to have to make this summer.

On the one hand, you have an incredible 22/23 campaign where Howe showed he is a fantastic coach, capable of coaching players to be better individuals and work better collectively as a team. A freak season where we had a system that worked, had few injuries to dent this, and a momentum you get once in a blue moon, ala Leicester winning the league.

On the other hand, you have the 23/24 campaign where Howe has shown all too often that being a coach and a manager are two different disciplines. His persistence with the flat 3 across the middle up until the last couple of games has cost us so many points. His persistence to play Burn every single week is soul destroying, for both Burn and the fans. He hasn’t been the same player since his back injury and is continually targetted and exposed. He has no pace, he doesn’t stop crosses and he offers nothing going forward, he shouldn’t be in the team. His inability to change games has all been astoundingly poor for 95% of the season, he sits and watches, waits for the obvious mistake to happen, then makes the change. I don’t know if this is him being stubborn and wanting to take the fans and media on as a “I’ll show you” sort of mentality, or if he really is that blind to the glaringly obvious.

We are going to lose Ashworth, the little rat, and Bruno is nailed on to leave. We could potentially have circa 100 million incoming from those departures, along side some of the remaining dregs in the squad being shifted on. The question I have is, do you trust Howe to continue? I don’t have a fully formed opinion yet, primarily because I can’t lose sight of last year, and I can’t lose sight that we wouldn’t be as poor with a fit squad. On the flip side of this, have players been managed correctly in terms of their minutes on the pitch, to contribute toward this terrible injury situation? They absolutely haven’t, even with some freak injuries littered amongst this. Howe hasn’t been able to cope with the demands of this season, and for the next few years, should we be lucky enough to sign another player of Bruno’s quality, we will also lose said player as we try to close the gap and become a regular Champions League side, we need someone who can cope with the turn over of players and the different playing styles we will need to try and get back to the top 4.

I’d honestly aruge we have missed a boat the size of the titanic. We had Liverpool, Man Utd, Spurs and Chelsea all briefly dropping away last year and we had to capitalise with the summer transfer window to go again. We failed so badly here, and now Liverpool are back with a vengence, Man Utd are there or there abouts for 4th, Spurs are looking good again, and whilst Chelsea are still a laughing stock, I’d argue they are better placed right now to get it right and go above us in terms of our trajectory. I don’t think they we can realistically close that gap now in the next few years.

We had such a huge opportunity, in a league dominated by the so called “big 6” to close the gap for the forseeable future, and the chance has gone. Amanda Staveley said herself we can’t get a window wrong if we want to continue to climb, and we did, we got it so badly wrong that it hasn’t only cost us this season in terms of our on field performance, it will cost us in terms of the likes of Bruno, who might have been slightly, ever so slightly tempted to stick around with an improved contract could we get Champions League again. You take Bruno out of this team right now and we are a bottom half of the table side, and we are going to be left with that gaping hole in the summer, alongside the other obvious weaknesses we had going into this campaign, like no natural cover for Willock, not replacing Almiron, not sorting out the left back position despite signing two players for circa 75 million who can play in that area.

I don’t know what the answer is right now, but Howe is under scrutiny, there have been too many things happen this season directly related to him as the head coach, that mean he has to come under serious questioning as to whether or not he is the right person for the future. Right now it feels like he has turned us into Bournemouth 1.2, the old Bournemouth, the one where he had one way of playing and sod the rest. Sadly, the .2 is just a better standard of player, as his ability to adapt the squad at his disposal to get results has failed him massively this season.