WHEN informed a couple of weeks ago that the five-year anniversary of his return to Cherries is coming up, Eddie Howe's reaction is one of surprise.

"Is it really five years?"

Yes, it really is. On Saturday, October 13, 2012, on the morning of the home clash with Leyton Orient in League One, Howe and assistant Jason Tindall's 21-month stint at Burnley was formally ended when they were unveiled at Dean Court.

A matter of hours later, the duo looked on from the stands as their team – managed by caretaker-boss Dennis Rofe for the final time – concocted a 2-0 win thanks to second-half goals from Lewis Grabban and Marc Pugh.

At the start of the day, Cherries had been 21st in the table. They ended it in 20th. Even though Howe had not formally taken the reins, the rise had begun.

And so it continued and accelerated, the next five years proving the most successful in club history.

Swiftly leaving behind a poor start to the season presided over by Paul Groves, Verwood-raised Howe took his boyhood club straight up to the Championship.

Then, an impressive mid-table finish. The following season, promotion to the top flight for the first time with a Championship title to boot. Remember the pitch invasion after Bolton and the trophy presentation at Charlton? Thought so.

After a stable first campaign in the Premier League, Howe steered Cherries to ninth, the club's highest finish in the English football ladder and a remarkable effort in a division regularly labelled the world's best.

All of which must surely leave the 39-year-old feeling his return to Dorset had proved one of the best decisions of his managerial career. Well, much as he has relished being in the Cherries hot seat for a second time, he would not phrase it quite like that.

"It's very difficult to put yourself back in that situation," said Howe. "It wasn't a decision, it was something I felt compelled to do on a number of levels.

"I had no doubts about coming back, even though it was dropping a league and outside of Bournemouth, eyebrows were raised at what I had done.

"I had no hesitation, even though it was perceived to be a backwards step. I had family reasons as well but just looking at the football reasons, I had no doubts at all.

"You hope and dream and you have your wishes about what could be achieved. Certainly, the Premier League was not something I was thinking about, I can guarantee you that.

"The main focus was trying to move up League One and trying to stay away from the bottom. That was the initial aim and then of course things took off straight away and we sit here now."

Renowned as a workaholic with a keen eye for football's finer details, Howe does not like to waste time on matters which do not result in his team scoring more goals and conceding fewer.

Moreover, he likes to squeeze every last drop out of each moment he has with his players, all of which results in time – to him, at least – appearing to rush by.

"When you are working in this environment, the days and weeks and months merge into one blur," said Howe. "It's very difficult to stop and reflect and analyse.

"Time seems to go so quickly because every day you are at your maximum to make the team better and you lose track of time. The past five years has gone by extremely quickly."

So given the chance, would Howe like to be in the manager's chair in 2022?

"Yes, I would. If someone said to me 'you will still be sitting here in five years', I would be absolutely delighted.

"I would hope we would still be in the Premier League and enjoying the league and the challenges which it brings.

"But there is no guarantee of that – it is a results-driven business and I have to get results to make sure I stay as manager here."

Rewind to the day five years ago that a suited and booted Howe faced the cameras and microphones at Dean Court. 'Fairytale return for prodigal son Howe' boasted the Daily Echo's headline at the time.

Two promotions and a club-record top-flight finish later, little did we know how much of a fairytale it would turn out to be.