Bournemouth’s spirit brings back Portsmouth memories for boss Gary O’Neil

Gary O’Neil feels Bournemouth have a similar “togetherness” to the Portsmouth side he was part of that beat Premier League relegation in 2005-06.

That season saw Pompey recover from being eight points adrift of safety to finish four points above the drop zone in 17th place, losing only twice and winning six times in their final 10 games of the campaign.

Bournemouth have won five of their last nine matches, including three of their last four, and moved from the bottom three to being six points clear of it with seven fixtures to go.

Asked about any comparisons between 2006 and Bournemouth at the moment, Cherries boss O’Neil said: “Togetherness, maybe. I think that group that I was in at Portsmouth, we were a real together group.

“Maybe slightly different because we were cut adrift that season a little bit at Portsmouth. Halfway through, we were a long way behind or maybe slightly later than halfway through, whereas we’ve sort of been in the fight always from the start of the season, we’ve always been in and around everybody.

“So slightly different, but this group definitely has that togetherness and that drive to try to achieve something.

“A lot of work still to do over the next six weeks to make sure that we do achieve what we set out to, and it would be a big achievement.”

Bournemouth on Sunday will look to secure a third successive victory, after winning 1-0 at Leicester and then 3-2 at Tottenham, when they host West Ham, another club O’Neil spent time with during his playing career.

David Moyes’ Hammers, who were in Europa Conference League action on Thursday as they advanced to the semi-finals with a home win over Gent, are two points behind Bournemouth having played one match fewer.

O’Neil said: “I’m looking forward to getting back home. We’ve obviously had two away games on the trot.

“It will be a very tough game against a West Ham side that can be stubborn and hard to break down.

“So we’ll need a good atmosphere here on Sunday and will try to make sure the lads are in a real good place to go and attack the game, and make the Vitality (Stadium) what it can be when it gets bouncing.

“I’d be very surprised if West Ham turn up here at anything less that 100 per cent full throttle and ready to go. It’s a very important game for them as well as it is for us.”

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