Eddie Howe opened up after his Bournemouth side suffered an ‘incredibly painful’ relegation despite an excellent performance and 3-1 victory over Everton on the final day of the season.
Bournemouth went to Everton knowing they needed three points and other results to go their way in order to avoid an end to their five-year stay in the Premier League.
The Cherries started the game with intent and were a goal up after just 13 minutes when Josh King converted a penalty following Richarlison’s handball inside the area. Despite their dominance though, Bournemouth saw their lead wiped out when Moise Kean prodded home Theo Walcott’s cross for the home side.
However, just moments before the interval, Bournemouth were back in front after Dominic Solanke headed home a Sergio Rico ball into the box. Bournemouth had not won an away game since their 1-0 win over Chelsea back in December but they came out after half time determined to end that miserable run and keep their survival hopes alive. Junior Stanislas duly notched a third for his side with just ten minutes to play, after his tame effort squirmed through the gloves of Jordan Pickford in the Everton goal.
Howe’s men put in an excellent display and would have climbed out of the bottom three had West Ham beaten Aston Villa at the London Stadium. But as news filtered through that Villa had hung on for a point, the Bournemouth players left the field in despair as their relegation was confirmed.
Reflecting on his side’s demotion from the Premier League, Howe took full responsibility, admitting his side had simply not been good enough over the course of the season.
“It’s incredibly painful, we always believed we were capable of a last-minute escape. We had the scores on the scoreboard here so it was teased in our face but that’s the best we’ve played in a long, long time,” Howe told BBC’s MOTD.
“When it went 3-1, our focus was glued to the West Ham score. We needed it to fall for us but ultimately you look at the points we’ve not got during the season that we should have got.
“Collectively over the piece we haven’t been good enough, the table doesn’t lie, it tells the story. We’ve dipped below the levels of previous seasons, there’s no denying that.
“I have to take this on my shoulders and I’ve no issues with that. It’s how you respond to the setback, at the moment it’s too difficult to see that.
“The fans have been so good with me, I feel desperately for them. Our supporters have always been brilliant home and away and they have made the difference for us down the years. We missed them, it took us a while to get going after lockdown and that slow start has cost us.”