Eddie Howe warned his Bournemouth players they remain at risk of relegation after their 3-1 defeat at home to Burnley left them with only one victory from nine.
They sit 10 points clear of the bottom three and 18th-placed Cardiff, who have a game in hand, but again played with such a lack of confidence that the gap could narrow over the coming weeks.
By falling to 13th they also find themselves within two points of Burnley, who at kick-off had appeared at greater risk of losing their Premier League status, and do so after first taking the lead and then conceding three sloppy goals.
At the end of October Howe’s team were challenging for European football, but with only five victories since then their form has become a significant concern, and the 41-year-old Howe said: “I don’t know how many times I’ve got to say that we’re not safe.
“I don’t consider myself safe and on my holidays and the players are the same. Until someone says we’re mathematically safe that will be the case. You can’t take liberties in this game.
“We had a good start and you thought that was the lift we needed but we didn’t deal well with Burnley’s threats. We came under pressure, the wind was against us and we didn’t deal with it.
“The biggest disappointment for us was the second half. You expected us to pen them in and put them under pressure but that pressure didn’t really come.
“We made individual mistakes for which we need to take collective responsibility.
“We made too many bad decisions on the ball in that second half.”
In every way the afternoon was a disappointment for Bournemouth, for 14th-placed Burnley it brought a sense of relief.
If their present points tally of 36, with five remaining fixtures, is not enough for them to be considered safe despite being eight clear of the bottom three and on a largely upward trajectory, they can essentially achieve that ambition with victory next week at home to Cardiff.
They fell behind after an early own goal from Ashley Barnes, before finishes from Chris Wood, Ashley Westwood and then Barnes rewarded a fine performance, and their manager Sean Dyche said: “The calmness was key and I was really pleased with that. We’ve done that better since Christmas.
“Twenty-four points in 14 games since Christmas, that’s a fantastic return. With performances like that you can see why we’ve got that return.
“When you think you’re 1-0 down early in the game then it’s up there with our best performances.”
Asked of the latest promising display from Dwight McNeil, 19, the 47-year-old Dyche responded: “He continues to enjoy the challenge, he continues to enjoy his performances.
“The midfield two were excellent and Westwood is having a fine second half of the season.
“We’ll be focused on the next game; we’ll take the next game on.”
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