Eddie Howe has insisted he will not concede defeat in Bournemouth’s relegation fight, even as he accepts that others might have already written his side off.
Watford’s win over Norwich on Tuesday night left the Cherries four points adrift of safety with five games to play.
With Howe’s side winless since February and in the middle of a run of fixtures against European and Champions League hopefuls, it is difficult to see where the next win might come from.
“I understand why people have written us off,” Howe said ahead of Thursday’s match against Tottenham.
“I understand why the emotions are very negative towards us at the moment, but nothing changes my thought process. One win for West Ham, who were perceived negatively, and suddenly they’re now safe.
“A lot depends on the next few games before anything is decided and we have to maintain our belief that we can do this, and I certainly do.
“It’s been a hallmark of the team and this club that in adversity and difficult moments we can surprise people and we have to do that more than ever. Why should we raise the flag or sink into the negativity that surrounds us? No chance.”
The relegation fight is personal for Howe given his long association with the club where he came through the ranks as a player and then began his managerial career, clocking up over a decade in charge across two spells.
“You want to do your very best for the club,” he said. “I love this club, I love every part of it, and I’m determined to do everything in my power to preserve our Premier League status.
“My love of the club is driving me to give more in the fight against relegation.”
Bournemouth have conceded nine goals in their last two outings, a 4-1 home defeat to Newcastle and a 5-2 loss to Manchester United, but Howe took some encouragement from the way his side played at Old Trafford as they were able to take an early lead and pose a threat going forward.
“Tactically they were very minimal tweaks for us, no wholesale changes,” he said of the match. “We just performed better as individuals within the system we gave the players…
“Of course there’s a balance and we have to defend better than we did against Manchester United the other day. If we can get that balance right we will be a threat and then it’s up to our players when we get those chances to try and take them.”
But life will get no easier for Bournemouth in the coming days. After Jose Mourinho brings his side to the south coast on Thursday, the Cherries face Leicester and then Manchester City next, desperately needing to upset the odds in order to extend their five-year stay in the top flight.
The fixture list might be daunting, but for Howe the level of opposition is a reminder of what he and his players are fighting for.
“It’s the best league in the world,” he said. “Some of the teams that have come down here to this pitch, some of the games we’ve had were so memorable, and I want those moments to continue.”