By Graeme Hanna

24th May, 2023 | 1:10pm

Gary O'Neil makes relegation confession ahead of Everton v Bournemouth in Premier League

Bournemouth head coach Gary O’Neil heaped praise on his players with his comments that many thought they would be in opposite positions with Everton, ahead of the final day of the season, as featured in the Liverpool Echo.

O’Neil made the relegation confession as the Cherries head to Goodison Park at the weekend with their top-flight status secure for another campaign but for the hosts, it is a must-win encounter if they are to avoid the drop to the Championship.

He has steered his side to safety since their early struggles this season after he took over from Scott Parker.

The 40-year old elaborated on his thoughts ahead of the massive encounter on Sunday as the Toffees seek to benefit from the competitive edge that they will have.

“I think everyone felt that the Everton game would probably be pivotal for both of us,” he said.

“Definitely us, maybe not Everton, so the fact that it isn’t for us shows what a good achievement it was from the players (to avoid the relegation battle).

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“One thing to stay up, another thing to stay up with four games to spare. So very impressive, from a group without quite a lot of people, and you saw again, they’ll run, they’ll work, that they do whatever is asked of them.

“It’s obviously nice that we get to come in, enjoy training, start to switch focus a little bit, discussions around next season and sort of things taking place with the recruitment team, now we know what league we’re going to be in.”


O’Neil’s comments are very interesting, particularly about the switch of focus after they avoided the fight to the end to avoid relegation.

In recent weeks, their form has been up and down so what will they bring to Merseyside on Sunday? Is the motivation still there to really threaten Sean Dyche’s side?

Much of that will come down to how Everton impacts the game, especially in the early stages but there is no doubt that there should be more intensity from the hosts. They will be fighting for survival on the last day of the season, Bournemouth will have no such pressure.

The passion and emotion of the supporters will set the scene at Goodison in what will be a highly charged atmosphere, with Dyche preparing his team to respond accordingly.

This will be a very different test for O’Neil’s team and one that they may not have the answers to, at this late, critical stage of the season for their hosts.