Eddie Howe interview: Reflecting on relegation battle lessons from League Two and collective spirit

"We're facing a huge challenge but it's a challenge we're ready to take on, and we're ready to embrace," says Eddie Howe, striking an optimistic note as he speaks to Sky Sports ahead of a brutal run-in for his relegation-threatened Bournemouth side.

Bournemouth are four points from safety and have a mightily difficult five remaining fixtures, with Thursday's match against Tottenham followed by Leicester on Sunday and Manchester City next Wednesday.

Southampton and Everton round off the list, with Bournemouth knowing they will most likely have to pick up a couple of wins from those games to survive. After five commendable seasons in the Premier League, Bournemouth are facing the real prospect of a return to the Championship.

But context is key and for Howe, who took charge in his first spell at the club with Bournemouth in the relegation zone of League Two after a 17-point deduction, there is still real belief the Cherries can overcome the odds once again.

"It probably is and it probably does," he smiles, when asked if this felt like a key moment in the club's history. "But you look back through previous seasons where we've just kept our heads above the line in the Premier League and it's always been quite tight, and they've been pivotal moments.

"Now this is a pivotal moment - and I'm sure in seasons beyond there'll be pivotal moments in there as well. เดิมพันฟุตบอล10บาท We just have to stay very present in our next day's training, in our next game, don't look too far ahead and try to enjoy and embrace the challenge."

Reflecting on those early days in the lower reaches of English football's fourth tier, Howe says it was the "togetherness" of his Bournemouth players in 2008 and 2009 which was key to their success, escaping relegation to non-league football and remarkably going on to win promotion the following season.

He feels a similar unity among his current squad, who are facing up to their own defining moments.

"There was a really stern focus on what we needed to do," Howe told Sky Sports via video call. "When I look back to the League Two days, we were all absolutely focused on the team.

"There were no individual agendas, no thoughts of, 'what happens if the worst happens, what's my own situation going to look like?' It wasn't even contemplated.

"It was all on: 'we will do this, we have to do this' - and then, 'how can I help the team achieve it?'. We're going to need all of those qualities in the next couple of weeks.

"It's a different group, it's a different era, it's a different league, there are so many differences I think it's a very tough one to compare. But I still think we have very, very good professionals, I think we have a group that care deeply about the team and the club.

"We don't have anyone, that I see and that I hear, that's not focused on helping the team achieve their objectives. Although it's a different group and different individuals involved I still feel the collective is there."

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