WE’RE OK NOW – O’KANE

Eu­nan O’Kane says Bournemouth are over an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

BOURNEMOUTH mid­fielder Eu­nan O’Kane has ad­mit­ted that the Cher­ries be­gan the sea­son with an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex.

Pro­moted from League One last term, the south coast side were thumped 6-1 at Wat­ford and 5-1 by Hud­der­s­field in their first two away games and by early De­cem­ber lay just four points above the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

But a goal-laden run of eight wins in ten games since the start of March has seen Ed­die Howe’s men climb to within touch­ing dis­tance of a play-off place – and O’Kane says it’s all down to their new found con­fi­dence.

“The Cham­pi­onship is a bit in­tim­i­dat­ing,” said the 23-year-old, who started out at Col­eraine in his na­tive North­ern Ire­land be­fore join­ing Torquay in 2010. “Al­though you want to be there, there’s also an el­e­ment of doubt.

In­tim­i­dat­ing

“You play in those games where you get beat four, five, six and you go home and ask yourself ‘Am I good enough to be at this level? Can I re­ally do this?’

“But in the end, you have to an­swer those ques­tions yourself. You’re not there by chance or be­cause some­body is do­ing you a favour. You’re there be­cause your per­for­mances earned you the right to play in this di­vi­sion.

“At first, it’s in­tim­i­dat­ing go­ing to places like Wat­ford, who are a huge club. Go­ing to Read­ing, to Leeds.The names alone are enough to make you stop and think.

“But you have to get past that.You have to think ‘Yeah, they’re a mas­sive club. But they’re in the Cham­pi­onship be­cause they de­serve to be here, just like us’.

“Once you get past the his­tory and the rep­u­ta­tion, you re­alise that on the pitch, you’re as good as they are. I think that’s the rea­son we’ve picked up so many points since Christ­mas – we’ve stopped play­ing the name and started play­ing the game.”

O’Kane also hailed the Cher­ries’ back four, which has fi­nally stopped ship­ping goals for fun.

At the turn of the year only Mill­wall had con­ceded more goals than the Cher­ries, who had been breached 46 times in 27 games.

How­ever, af­ter a few home truths in the dress­ing room and some as­tute coach­ing from Ed­die Howe, O’Kane and his com­rades have con­ceded just ten goals in the 14 games since.

“The first few months of the sea­son, we got handed some harsh lessons,” says the Ire­land Un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional. “And it was ob­vi­ous why – we just weren’t tight enough.

“So we sat down and had con­ver­sa­tions, high­lighted ex­actly where we went wrong when we got those beat­ings.

“Over a pe­riod of time that’s given people a bet­ter un­der­stand- ing of their own jobs and made us all feel more re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing the goals out. We all work tremen­dously hard when we don’t have the ball and that’s been a big part of it, def­i­nitely over the last month.

“At the start of the sea­son, we’d go be­hind early then lose four and five on quite a few oc­ca­sions.

“But since the turn of the year, those kind of per­for­mances have com­pletely gone out of the win­dow.

“I’m not go­ing to stand here and tell you that we’ve cracked it. But we are a lot more ma­ture and we are a lot more solid.

“We’re still try­ing to play the free-flow­ing foot­ball that the man­ager and the fans here ex­pect, but no longer at the ex­pense of clean sheets.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

CON­FI­DENT: Eu­nan O’Kane scores for Bournemouth

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