Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe feels his side’s achievement of staying in the Premier League again will probably take some time to sink in.
The Cherries travel to Leicester for Sunday’s finale safe for another campaign among the elite having eclipsed last season’s tally, now on 45 points following just two defeats – against the top two – out of their last 11 matches.
Victory at the King Power Stadium coupled with results elsewhere going their way and could see Howe’s side end up as high as eighth.
It has been some rise for the south-coast club, who started the decade in League Two.
Howe, a former Cherries player, understands just how far they have come – and the continuing battles ahead to retain that hard-earned status.
“It has been a good season to this point and we want to finish on a high if we can. Our end-of-season form has been very strong,” Howe said.
“The first year was tough, everything we expected it to be.
“The second season we felt would be different in many ways, potentially harder and I think that has been the case.
“I don’t think there has been any surprises for us, the pitfalls of the second season have been there, but we have managed to control them and the players deserve a lot of credit for not letting standards drop.
“The work rate has been there and the attitude has been there. When those two things have been there then we are a very difficult team to play against.”
Howe added at a press conference: “There have been several moments to look back on and it is difficult for me to really appreciate them in season, it is only when you sit back and reflect in the summer.
“The Liverpool games, home and away, were obviously big ones, they were special days for us, as well as beating Everton here, drawing with Tottenham here, which were not only great results but they were excellent performances.
“The draw at Old Trafford especially in the circumstances and how that point came about was also a heroic effort from the players.”
Having now established themselves in the Premier League, Bournemouth can look to bring in a calibre of player which at one time fans could only have dreamed off.
The Cherries have been linked with summer moves for Chelsea trio John Terry, Nathan Ake and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as well as Sunderland forward Jermain Defoe, who had a loan spell with the Bournemouth earlier in his career.
“The two years in the Premier League certainly help (attract players),” said Howe.
“The first year there is a hesitation before wanting to commit to the club because they don’t just want to be a Premier League player for one season, and a lot of players have that in mind.
“The fact we have been able to stay in the Premier League for two years gives us a stronger base to appeal to those players.”