Gary O’Neil played down talk about any potential manager of the year nomination but expressed his pride after Bournemouth likely clinched Premier League football for another season with a month to spare.
The Cherries stormed to a 4-1 thrashing over struggling Leeds on Sunday to put any relegation concerns to bed with Dominic Solanke and Antoine Semenyo on target after Jefferson Lerma’s first-half brace at the Vitality Stadium.
O’Neil’s side have now drawn level with Chelsea on 39 points to all but secure safety with four games left, which appeared a long shot at the beginning of April when they were in the bottom three.
Since replacing Scott Parker following a 9-0 loss at Anfield in August, Bournemouth’s rookie boss has won 10 matches, beaten the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham and navigated several injury crises during his debut managerial campaign.
It has led to calls from Jamie Carragher, amongst others, for the 39-year-old to be nominated for Premier League manager of the year.
But O’Neil insisted: “I’m not interested but people will make decisions.
“If Mo Salah had scored his penalty (in the 1-0 win) and a few other things had gone another way, people would have been calling me the worst manager in the league and nowhere near ready for what was a big job.
“Fine margins and proud of the work the group have done. Proud I have managed to play a part with them and really looking forward to the next four to see how many points we can put on the board.
“I’m just really proud of a group I’ve worked with for quite a while now in different positions.
“To have had as many questions asked of them as they have, to have been written off by so many people and to get to 39 points with four games still to play is an incredible effort.
“I’m very proud of the group and that is everyone. Whether you have played one game, 34 games or been in the treatment room, physios, everyone has played a part. It’s been a big effort to get to this point.”
A surprise 4-0 defeat at home to West Ham last weekend increased the pressure on Thursday’s trip to local rivals Southampton but Bournemouth claimed a vital 1-0 victory before they put Leeds to the sword.
Having experienced the dejection of conceding deep into stoppage time in a 3-2 loss at Arsenal in March, the Cherries have responded with six wins from nine matches to all but guarantee their Premier League status with a month of the campaign to go.
“The players have suffered some tough moments this season,” O’Neil reflected.
“You think away to Arsenal and we were bottom of the league when we suffered that late goal so not many people saw us going on the run we did. A big effort from everyone.”
Leeds head coach Javi Gracia is under pressure only two months into his tenure but insists he has total belief in his young squad.
“There is only one way to try to change, to work and believe in the players we have,” he said.
“We are a young team and young players many times need this process to make mistakes and to learn from them, but it is something that in this moment is hard to accept.
“I believe in my players from the beginning until the end.”