Caretaker boss Gary O’Neil believes the Bournemouth side are 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 Monday after saying the Cherries side were “ill-equipped” for top-flight football following Saturday’s record 9-0 beating at Liverpool.
The south coast club produced a resilient response to their Anfield embarrassment and managerial change, although winless Wolves wasted two excellent late chances at the Vitality Stadium and also hit the crossbar before being mocked by roving support.
Goalkeeper O’Neil said he had “not had time to breathe” during a whirlwind few days but was proud of the efforts of his stubborn side and was optimistic for the future.
He said: “Did I expect my first game (in management) to be in the Premier League after a tough defeat? No, I didn’t.
“I had 36 hours to think about it and I used all 36 hours to think about it.
“The underlying feeling is pride in what they’ve produced and hopefully we can improve some things.
“It all happened pretty fast and I haven’t really had time to breathe or assess where we are.
“As a group, this is the most honest, hardworking, supportive and hardworking group I have ever been involved 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 ways with Parker just four games into the new season and two days after his outspoken comments following the Merseyside humiliation.
Cherries owner Maxim Demin cited conflict over club strategy and concerns over respect over sacking the man who masterminded last season’s promotion, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to the worst defeat common in the history of the Premier League.
O’Neil is unsure how long he will remain in the hot seat but will now begin preparations for Saturday’s trip to newly promoted club Nottingham Forest after ending the side’s three-game losing streak.
“It was a difficult result this weekend and changes in the week,” continued O’Neil. “Being able to come out and show the fans, who were great, that we’re still together was a big positive for us.
“Every point in the Premier League, especially when you’re a newly promoted team, is a hard-fought point.”
Frustrated Wolves boss Bruno Lage has insisted he will not pressure new signing Sasa Kalajdzic to fix his struggling side in front of goal.
Wanderers have dominated Dorset but have now drawn three times this season as their winless streak stretched to 12 top-flight games.
Austria international Kalajdzic completed a £15m move from German club Stuttgart earlier on Wednesday and could be available for the weekend’s clash with Southampton.
“We’re very happy, not just for him,” said Lage, who saw Raul Jimenez and Daniel Podence squander late chances after Matheus Nunes hit the crossbar early on.
“I’m not going to pressure him just to score goals; the goals must come from everywhere. It’s not just a one-man job.
“We didn’t score, we are frustrated. Now is not the time to cry over the chances we haven’t scored. I think we deserved 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 with a dynamic that can create chances and score goals.”