FOR a forward-thinking manager who is always looking to progress, Eddie Howe admits it is “crazy” to look back at his time spent with Cherries.

The legendary Dean Court boss is this weekend set to celebrate a magnificent seven years at the helm during his second spell in charge, having come back from Burnley in October 2012.

The Daily Echo described it as a “fairytale return” for the Dorset club’s “prodigal son” when putting together the headlines for Howe’s return.

But nobody could have guessed the astounding journey was still in its infancy.

Howe had already rescued the club from going out of the Football League during his first spell, after taking his inaugural managerial position during the 2008-09 campaign.

He then masterminded promotion from League Two 12 months later, before being appointed at Turf Moor in January 2011.

He spent 21 months in Lancashire before returning to Cherries.

Howe cited family as one of his reasons for leaving Burnley. However, he dismissed suggestions that he lacked ambition after dropping down a level to League One from the Championship.

Addressing the media on his return seven years ago, he said: “My ambition and desire to succeed are the same as they have always been. Jason (Tindall, assistant) and myself have not come back to settle for second best.

“We want to push on and try to bring success to Bournemouth. That is our only focus at the moment and it will never change.”

The Cherries boss has certainly been true to his word.

After gaining promotion from League One in 2013 and winning the Championship in 2015, Howe’s legacy has helped Cherries enter their fifth year at England’s elite level.

So what was the Cherries manager’s reaction when put to him by the Daily Echo that it been seven years since his return?

“Where are the years going?!” he smiled. “That’s my thought on that – it’s crazy. I say it every time you give me a landmark! It’s just gone in the blink of an eye.

“I think in seven more years, where will we be?

“It’s been an incredible journey. I could never have thought seven years ago when I came back we would end up in this position now.

“There have been so many good times, a few bad ones along the way but you have to take that. So, so many positive memories that I will take into later life.”

In English football’s top four divisions, only Wycombe’s Gareth Ainsworth and Morecombe’s Jim Bentley have served their respective clubs longer, since Howe began his second spell at Cherries.

Directly below him on the list – his successor at Burnley, Sean Dyche. Howe remains thankful for his time with the Clarets.

“For my development, for my experiences. I don’t think I would be sat here in the Premier League if I hadn’t experienced what I had at Burnley,” he said.

“I think it did me the world of good personally. In some respects, it feels like a continuous journey from the first spell (at Cherries) through – but the spell at Burnley was so important for me.

“That feels like quite a short spell away now during the two times at Bournemouth put together.”

With a host of Cherries’ international stars this week jetting across the continent to represent their respective countries during the international break, Howe has once again piloted his side into Premier League’s top 10.

A new training ground is now on the horizon - he has a core of talented young players pushing for first-team spots as his playing squad continues to evolve.

One thing that has always remained constant however, is Howe’s affinity with the club he grew up with.

He said: “I feel hugely privileged to have experienced every up and down that we have gone through together but very, very proud to still manage the club.”