Former captain Fletcher: Eddie is Cherries' miracle man
CARL Fletcher is backing miracle worker Eddie Howe to put the finishing touches to Cherries' promotion push and go one better than the class of 2003. Fletcher played a starring role when he netted twice and captained Cherries to Division Three play-off final glory over Lincoln City seven years ago. His exploits at the Millennium Stadium helped the Dorset club claim a memorable 5-2 win as Sean O'Driscoll's charges bounced back at the first attempt. But with Howe's heroes close to securing automatic promotion, Fletcher is tipping his former team-mate to ensure Cherries complete the job without extending their season. Fletcher, who also tasted Championship play-off success with West Ham in 2005, could face Cherries next season after his current club Plymouth were relegated on Monday. He told the Daily Echo: I've spoken to Ed a lot this season and he has done fantastically well. You can't underestimate the job he has done with pretty much no budget and all the off-field troubles. I knew him when I played with him and I lived with him when I was at Bournemouth. I have seen a change in him and he has embraced becoming a manager. He deserves all the praise he gets. He always had a fantastic winning mentality as a player and has taken that into his management career. They have had some excellent results over the past few weeks and I have every faith they will get the final points needed to go up automatically. Welsh international Fletcher was a mainstay of Cherries' 2003 promotion campaign before he left Dean Court in a £400,000 move to West Ham and helped them clinch a place in the Premier League. He added: When I was at Bournemouth, we were disappointed not to go up automatically in 2003 but you wouldn't change for the world the way we did eventually get promoted. The final at the Millennium Stadium was a fantastic experience for everybody connected with the club. But the play-offs are a lottery and it's all about who turns up on the day. Subconsciously, relegation the previous season probably toughened us up because we were all fairly young at the time. Our home form was excellent in the play-off season. We used to go out thinking we weren't going to lose and that's a rare feeling in football. We also had it the season we just missed out on the play-offs in 2001. Although we flirted with the top three in 2003, we always knew there was a real possibility we would finish in the play-offs. It would be demoralising for them to drop into the play-offs now but I can't see it happening. They have been in the top three virtually all season and deserve to go up automatically.
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