Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has warned no-one at the club can afford to get “complacent and lazy” by thinking they are an established Premier League side.
The Cherries have won only twice since beating Chelsea 4-0 at the end of January, but just about did enough to keep themselves clear of the relegation scrap.
Howe knows the Dorset club, promoted to the top flight for the first time in 2015, have come a long way since being on the brink of financial meltdown and starting the 2008/09 League Two campaign on minus 17 points.
As he prepares the team for Saturday’s visit of Champions League semi-finalists Tottenham, Howe wants everyone focused on continued progress.
“People will use ‘established’, I don’t know if we have ever used that word. For us, it’s not a useful thing to look at, you can then get complacent and lazy,” he said at a press conference.
“For us it is about having to prove we deserve to be here first and foremost every season, so that means starting the campaign with a really good mentality to go to achieve and progress.
“Hopefully we can keep doing that and getting stronger.”
Howe accepts this season has proved a “challenge” and been “very demanding” as his side failed to maintain a promising start, before seeing resources stretched by injuries.
“Every year you can consolidate yourself in this division I think you can make yourself stronger from within,” he said.
“As a club we are still looking to do that – from the infrastructure side to support staff, to our coaching, to the players.
“That ambition and that drive to keep moving things forward will have to gather pace again because the league is only going to get harder next year.”
Howe will check on the likes of Dan Gosling, David Brooks, Adam Smith and Dominic Solanke, who are all carrying injuries, while Junior Stanislas has joined the long-term absentee list.
“We are trying to look at that as a positive in the respect that we have given opportunities to other players to see how they perform at this level,” he said.
“You have to overcome these things. It has been nothing new for us in the second half of the season and has been one of the challenging parts.”
Bournemouth were hammered 5-0 away to Spurs at Wembley on Boxing Day, but Howe feels they can be competitive in their final home game of the campaign.
“We have found the exchanges tough, but I think we have learned so much from the games, and trying to adapt our game to do better the next time,” Howe added, quoted on the club website.
“They have an outstanding manager and a great group of players who have done so well this season considering the fact they haven’t been active in the transfer market so huge compliments to (manager) Mauricio (Pochettino) and his staff.”