Bournemouth head coach Gary O’Neil knows just how valuable finishing the season with a win at relegation battlers Everton could prove for the club’s summer transfer budget.
The Cherries’ top-flight status is already secure ahead of a dramatic final day as Everton, Leicester and Leeds all battle it out to avoid joining Southampton in the Sky Bet Championship.
Following a run of four wins from five games last month to pull clear of the relegation zone, Bournemouth currently sit 15th.
Another three points, coupled with results elsewhere going in their favour, could see the south-coast club finish in 13th – and with that receive an additional £4.4million in merit payments.
O’Neil understands how welcome any extra revenue would be for future plans.
“From a head coach’s point of view, you are aware of the financial implications of staying in the league and where you finish, but that was never a motivating thing for me,” said O’Neill, who replaced Scott Parker at the end of August and has gone on to win 11 Premier League games.
“The whole way through the season was all about what the players need and how well we can perform.
“Of course a win and climbing to 13th place would be great for everyone at the club.
“But it would also be great for me and the players to know that we have gone to a real tough place and put in a real good showing to beat a side who are desperate to win in front of their own fans.”
O’Neil added: “From the club’s view, then going into a summer where we will try to do something on the transfer front, finishing higher up the league and the financial implications would be beneficial.”
Everton sit two points clear of the drop zone, so have their fate in their own hands, while the teams below must win and hope for Bournemouth – in the bottom three themselves at the beginning of April – to do them a favour.
O’Neil is under no illusion about what his side will be running out into at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon.
“Of course they will be well up for the game,” the Bournemouth boss told a press conference.
“They will try to make it as tough and intimidating as possible, but it is an exciting task for me.
“I have been in a few of those as a player, but it is a first for me as a coach.
“We have been to a few tough places, but this will be on the extreme side of that because of what it means to Everton and the size of the football club.
“They really test you and are a vocal support and it is a close-in stadium, so it feels a real intense atmosphere and I am looking forward to it.”