Eddie Howe's AFC Bournemouth have face a very difficult start to action in 2017 and face Manchester United in the Premier League this Saturday with an aim to put their dismal start to the year behind them.
Howe has found victories hard to come by, the Cherries haven't won a game since the turn of the year. However, the manager is still confident with his players and believes they can turn the tide in their favour.
Cherries excited for Old Trafford clash
Howe has the squad working hard in preparation for the clash, with the aim to build some good momentum despite the poor start to the year for the Cherries.
Howe explained the team's approach in preparation and said that it's a "delicate balance" between doing "something different" and "going away" from what needs to be done.
He spoke on the side's preparation for the game and said that,"We’ve worked the players hard this week and we’re excited by this game". He insisted that the team can "only be positive" and that they are as "confident" they can be.
He added that the team knows that,"a win is needed to truly feel good about ourselves but hopefully that’s not too far away."
Howe looks to past for inspiration
Howe spoke about how the Cherries recent exploits in the Premier League can give them inspiration for this difficult clash coming up against United.
He said “if you look at our recent history we need to take a moment to think, reflect and look back on what we’ve achieved; when you do that it can give you strength.
Howe acknowledged the struggles that the Cherries have gone through throughout their careers in order to reach where they are today. He said that "things haven't always been easy" for the team and him as well.
The 39-year-old has faced some criticism of late for not being able to overturn the club's fortunes so far this season and he admitted that he is his own "harshest critic".
He added "as a player and manager, the buck stops with me first and foremost so I shoulder the responsibility. I’ve never been more motivated at this club to do what we have to do."
Some of Bournemouth's victories have been incredible, the 5-4 victory against Liverpool earlier in the season was a memorable one for the Cherries and Howe insists the club has always tried to "defy the odds".
Motivation not a problem according to Howe
Bournemouth are one of the most hard-working sides in the Premier League and the statistics do not lie, the Cherries have always covered huge distances in matches.
Howe spoke about the motivation the team and dismissed any notion that there was a "lack of motivation" in the group. He said that it isn't an "issue" for the team and said that "against many teams, we’ve played very well".
He added that in recent weeks the Cherries haven’t had a "collective team performance" which they’ve been looking for.
Howe revealed that the "main focus" of training this week was for the team to help everyone perform at their "best level" once again.
Howe impressed by United's progress
United won their second final at Wembley stadium last weekend as they beat Claude Puel's Southampton 3-2 in a final which gave Jose Mourinho his second piece of silverware with United this season.
Howe has been very impressed with United's growth under Mourinho and said that "they’ve progressed and improved". He added that "that’s been obvious and they won the Cup last week so they’ll be buoyed by that. They have some key players but we’ll have to deal with them".
Howe spoke about Ibrahimović and his form so far this season and said that "the day we played them here on the first day of the season I was very impressed by him," said Howe of Ibrahimovic. "He’s then gone on to prove himself this season."
He added that Zlatan's appetite was what "struck" him last weekend and also how he "approached" the game. He acknowledged Zlatan's exploits and said "full credit to him but it’s up to us to match Manchester United and give them a game."