Eddie Howe speaking about Bournemouth staring relegation in the face is not a fun watch.
Bournemouth will be relegated from the Premier League if Watford draw or win against Manchester City on Tuesday, as the Cherries are three points from safety with one game to go and no longer control their own destiny. Time and time again Bournemouth have upset the odds but now time is running out.
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After a five-season stay, Premier League fairytale for Eddie Howe and Bournemouth is almost over but the much-lauded coach is hopeful in their relegation battle. He’s been here before as he rescued the South Coast club from being on -17 points in the fourth division in his first season in charge back in 2008-09.
Fast-forward 11 years and the Cherries lost 2-0 at home to Southampton and now their fate is out of their hands heading into their final game of the season, as they’re three points from safety and four goals worse off than Watford who have two games remanning albeit against Man City and Arsenal.
ProSoccerTalk asked Eddie Howe after the defeat to Southampton if the chances they created and the way they’ve been playing fills him with hope ahead of the final day of the season.
“That gives us hope, of course it does,” Howe said. “Next week, we want to still obviously be in there with a chance. It is very much out of our hands and we are reliant on other teams so we will have to see how the week progresses.”
Howe admitted he may not watch Watford’s game against Man City on Tuesday, and that Bournemouth just haven’t been their free-flowing selves this season with the goals drying up and until recently their textbook creativity was missing. They scored in the 95th minute but it was ruled out by VAR and they never quite made the most of promising chances.
Howe isn’t sure why that keeps happening, but ProSoccerTalk asked if his strikers are now snatching at chances because they’ve been so starved of opportunities this season.
“Usually we’ve been a really free-scoring team, free-playing team that has created a bundle of chances throughout a season. For this season, for whatever reason, that didn’t happen in the early stages of the campaign and goals were at a premium for us,” Howe said. “We’ve worked on vast different things to try and change and probably the best spell has been this last few games for us where we look like we’ve had that back. Today it was the chances missed but I think that’s a very good sign for us because that is how we’ve always been. Maybe you’re right, maybe there’s an element where the strikers haven’t had those moments enough during the season, and it’s not just them it’s the whole team, they’ve become a bit snatchy in front of goal. That’s the high pressure game we’re in.”
The stakes don’t get much higher than this and if Watford lose to Man City on Tuesday, Bournemouth get a chance to enter the ‘last chance saloon’ at Everton next Sunday. Given the way they’ve played and the way Everton have struggled in recent weeks, you’d fancy Bournemouth to grab the win they need and then hope for a miracle.
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On the flip side, Bournemouth’s neighbors are now up to 11th in the table and have their highest points tally since 2016 as only Liverpool have picked up more points on the road compared to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side this season.
ProSoccerTalk asked Hasenhuttl about their superb away form this season, which is their best-ever on the road in a top-flight campaign.
“I see the whole season and it is maybe a coincidence that at home we conceded a goal right away and away we are a bit calmer but especially since the lockdown where we have no crowd in the stadium there is no real difference between home and away games,” Hasenhuttl said. “We go everywhere to win, even at home. We don’t play different, we don’t fight different. We changed a few things after the lockdown so we now have a little bit more success at home and we won against Man City which is definitely one of the biggest wins we have made since I am here. We don’t think about this. It is more stats for you and for us it is now important we have 49 points and this is amazing.”
Asked about the potential relegation of Howe and Bournemouth predicament, Hasenhuttl had sympathy for them as his team were in a relegation scrap earlier this season but have turned things around in miraculous fashion.
“Hard to understand why they are where they are in the moment because we’ve had two very tough games against them. I see them as someone who is very well organized and fighting very hard, they have quality in every position. But you know, this is the Premier League and we had also such a moment and we were in a spiral down. It is very hard to come out of this. For us maybe it was this 9-0 that made the turnaround where we had to completely reset and from that moment on it went better and we found back to our philosophy. This is the key, in the end, this is what makes the league so interesting. You can do a fantastic job and even then you will not be successful. Anything is possible.”
Howe and Bournemouth know anything is possible because they’ve made the impossible possible many times in the past.
With a little help, they can still do it again.