Interim boss Gary O’Neil believes the Bournemouth team is good enough to be competitive at Premier League level after life without Scott Parker began with a goalless draw against Wolves.
Parker was sacked on Tuesday, saying the Cherries squad was “ill-equipped” for top-flight football after Saturday’s record-equalling 9-0 drubbing at Liverpool.
The south-coast club produced a resilient response to their humiliation at Anfield and the change of manager, although winless Wolves wasted two great late chances at the Vitality Stadium and also hit the crossbar before being jeered of traveling support.
Caretaker O’Neil said he had no “time to breathe” during the whirlwind few days but was proud of his side’s efforts and optimistic for the future.
He said: “Did I expect my first game (in management) to be in the Premier League on the back of a heavy defeat? No, I didn’t.
“I had 36 hours to think about it and I used all 36 hours of thinking.
“The underlying feeling is proud of what they produced and hopefully we can improve certain bits.
“Everything moved pretty quickly and I didn’t really have time to catch my breath or assess where we were.
“As a group, they are the most honest, hard-working, together, relentless group I have ever been with, even in my playing career.
“You can throw everything at them and they will never give up. And I think we have enough to be competitive at this level.
Bournemouth parted company with Parker just four games into the new season and three days on from his outspoken comments following the Merseyside embarrassment.
Cherries owner Maxim Demin cited conflict in the club’s strategy and concerns about respect when sacking the man behind last season’s promotion, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to joint-worst defeat in Premier League history.
O’Neil is unsure how long he will remain in the hot seat but preparations will now begin for Saturday’s trip to fellow newly-promoted club Nottingham Forest after ending the team’s three-match losing streak.
“It’s a tough result at the weekend and changes during the week,” continued O’Neil. “To be able to come out and show the fans, who are great, that we’re still together is a big positive for us.
“Every point in the Premier League, especially when you are a newly promoted team, is an uphill battle.”
Frustrated Wolves boss Bruno Lage insists he will not put pressure on new signing Sasa Kalajdzic to solve his struggling side’s problems in front of goal.
Wanderers have dominated Dorset but have now drawn blanks three times this season as their winless streak stretches to 12 top-flight games.
Austrian international Kalajdzic completed a £15million move from German club Stuttgart on Wednesday and could be available for the weekend clash with Southampton.
“We’re very happy, not just about him,” said Lage, who saw Raul Jimenez and Daniel Podence waste late chances after Matheus Nunes hit the crossbar early on.
“I’m not going to push him just to score goals; goals must come from everywhere. It’s not just a one-man job.
“We didn’t score, we were frustrated. Now is not the time to cry about the chances we didn’t score. I think we deserve more.
“We know we need points, points come from goals, goals come from good performances and chances like we created today.
“I can’t score goals but I can prepare the team to play in a dynamic that can create chances and score goals.”