Gary O’Neil fears another ‘kick up the backside’ if Bournemouth are complacent
Gary O’Neil feels contrasting results against Tottenham and West Ham this month show Bournemouth cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal as they seek to secure Premier League safety.
Dango Ouattara’s stoppage-time winner gave Bournemouth a 3-2 win at Tottenham a fortnight ago but the Cherries were shell-shocked last weekend after a 4-0 home defeat by fellow strugglers West Ham.
Bournemouth rebounded by edging out local rivals Southampton on Thursday to give themselves some breathing room in the bid to beat the drop, moving to 36 points, seven clear of the bottom three.
With five matches left this season, O’Neil insisted Bournemouth will not be resting on their laurels ahead of Sunday afternoon’s clash against Javi Gracia’s Leeds, who are also scrapping for survival.
“It’s still about avoiding the bottom three,” said the Bournemouth boss. “I don’t feel any more comfortable at all. I still feel like, at this moment in time, we could be relegated.
“I think maybe the world felt when we left the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that we were fine and then you get a performance against West Ham where we let ourselves down.
“That’s a real good lesson for the boys around achieving a good result that everyone thinks means that you’re OK and everything’s good and rosy and then you get a real kick up the backside a few days later.
“We learned that lesson last week and hopefully that prepares us well for what will be a tough ask against Leeds.”
Leeds defeated Bournemouth 4-3 in an enthralling encounter when they met in November at Elland Road and the Whites go into the return fixture having had two extra days to recover after playing Leicester on Tuesday.
A 1-1 draw against the Foxes snapped a three-match losing streak and while Bournemouth have won three of their last four, O’Neil is reading little into the form of the respective teams.
“There needs to be a lot of work done in a short space of time to make sure we turn up right from the start against Leeds,” added O’Neil.
“We don’t have time to ease ourselves into this one, they play in an intense way.
“They’ll have seen the start against West Ham, I’m sure, and they’ll be keen to come and impose themselves in front of our crowd and try and make it an awkward afternoon for us.
“There’s a real focus from me on trying to get the boys ready to start off all guns blazing.”