02 Dec Howe looking for consistency as Bournemouth seek to ease relegation concerns
Eddie Howe believes Bournemouth are in a Premier League relegation scrap but feels his team have done little wrong during a concerning run of one just win from eight games.
The 12th-placed Cherries travel to Crystal Palace on Tuesday evening on the back of three successive defeats which has left the club only four points clear of the bottom three.
Howe, who refused to be drawn on speculation linking him with replacing under-pressure Everton boss Marco Silva, has seen his side finish each of their previous four seasons in the top flight comfortably clear of the drop zone.
However, the 42-year-old thinks final league positions can mask the difficulty of remaining in the division and has called for greater consistency from his players to arrest the current slump.
“In the four seasons that we’ve managed to stay in the Premier League, I think in those four seasons they have been a relegation battle, it’s just we’ve managed to keep our heads above the line in all of those seasons,” the Bournemouth boss told a press conference.
“In other people’s eyes from the outside you go, ‘that’s quite comfortable’.
“The reality is it’s always been very tight and we’ve just managed to get a big result when we’ve needed it, we’ve managed to always stick together through the difficult periods and this season is going to be no different.
“I don’t think there’s a lot wrong with the team, I think we’re in pretty good shape but we have to be more consistent throughout the games.
“There have been slight inconsistencies that have ended up costing us the games, so we have to put a complete performance together, starting tomorrow.”
A 1-0 win over Manchester United at the start of November is Bournemouth’s only success since suffering Carabao Cup embarrassment at League One Burton in September.
The Cherries were beaten 3-2 at Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham on Saturday following successive 2-1 losses to Newcastle and Wolves.
Despite current form, Howe’s name continues to be touted for other jobs, with the Toffees now reportedly interested following recent links with Spurs and Arsenal.
Asked about a potential switch to Goodison Park should Silva be sacked, he replied: “It’s not right in any way for me to comment on that.
“I’m working hard here now to get a result tomorrow, so with the run of form we’re in, I find that not the right question to answer.”
Howe also offered words of comfort for former Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe following the death of his daughter.
Afobe, who played for the Cherries between 2016 and 2018, announced on Sunday that two-year-old Amora died on Friday following an infection.
“It’s tragic news for Benik, (partner) Lois, and the whole Afobe family. Knowing them as well as I do, we really feel their pain and share their pain,” said Howe.
“The whole club from top to bottom is united in supporting Benik at this time and we send our best wishes to him and his family.”
Bournemouth will have captain Simon Francis and midfielder Philip Billing back from one-match suspensions at Selhurst Park.
Cherries winger Harry Wilson is pushing for a start after scoring twice as a substitute against Tottenham and full-back Adam Smith could return from illness but forward Joshua King is not expected to overcome a hamstring injury in time to feature.