CHERRIES legend Brett Pitman hailed as “special” Eddie Howe’s drive to improve every player he works with and admitted: “When you look back you realise just how good you had it.”

Striker Pitman enjoyed prolific spells under Howe’s stewardship as the Dorset club rose through the Football League, culminating in the Championship-winning season five years ago.

The Cherries academy graduate netted 96 goals across two stints at Dean Court, which left him as the club’s fourth all-time leading league marksmen.

Throughout his career to date the 32-year-old has worked under many experienced managers, however, his progression with Howe stands out.

The current Cherries manager’s passion to get the best out of a player’s abilities has been well-documented and Pitman described as “massive” the role Howe played in his development.

Pitman told the Daily Echo: “He has always had an awareness of what people are good at. It started in League Two but definitely developed later on as I went up the leagues with him. His hunger to improve players, however old you are, whether you are in the team, out of the team, is incredible.

“I would say that is one of his best traits. He just wants to make people better on and off the pitch – he has a hunger for it.”

“The one thing he did more than any other manager is he believed in me,” added Pitman.

“He looked at what I could do rather than maybe what I wasn’t so good at.

“He knew I would score goals and it is weird that some managers seem to overlook people who score goals. They want people who can do other things when really scoring goals is the most difficult thing you can do in football.

“Eddie was always on me to work hard and I think it eventually clicked to do that and the goalscoring part was the bit I found easy to be honest.”

Discussing Howe’s work with players on a one-to-one basis, Pitman said: “It wasn’t just strikers and I did it quite a few times with him on a day off or if you had not played at the weekend, he would say to you or text you or ring you and say ‘do you want do a session’.

“Of course, you would always want to do it because it wouldn’t just be ‘do you want to do a session’ and a coach would be there. He would be the one taking it, with all his staff – that is special.

“People might think that is a norm in football but it really isn’t. It is what makes him different.”

Pitman admitted time away from Cherries had highlighted just how unique this approach was.

“When you are working under him you maybe take it slightly for granted,” the Jersey-born ace said. “When you leave you definitely don’t take it for granted.

“The amount of players I have spoken to who have played under him and left then look back and say ‘maybe we did take that slightly for granted’ because what he does is different to pretty much all the other managers I have worked under and all the other managers other players have worked under.

“When you are there you might take it for granted but when you look back you realise just how good you had it.”

When asked about suggestions Howe had taken Cherries as far as he could, Pitman said: “The best man for the job is the one in the job. You are not going to get a better manager to come in at Bournemouth.”