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Cherries: Howe relishes the challenge of becoming league leaders
Manager Howe tasked his men with embracing the challenge of staying ahead of the chasing pack as he gave his verdict on Cherries’ dramatic transformation.
Cherries continued their impressive form since Howe’s Dean Court return by marching to the top of the standings with a 2-1 victory at Crewe on Tuesday night.
Already installed as clear title favourites by the bookmakers, that latest win saw Cherries move into pole position as the closely-fought race for promotion places took another twist.
The Dorset outfit lead rivals Doncaster by a point and hold just a four-point cushion over seventh-placed Yeovil, who have a game in hand on Cherries.
Howe admits his club’s new lofty status will make them a target for every other team in the division – but he is adamant Cherries will maintain their professional approach.
He told the Daily Echo: “Now we are at the top of the league, we are there to be shot at.
“We are the scalp that everybody wants so we are going to have to make sure we adapt to that and use it to our advantage and try to use it in a positive way.
“A lot of people talk about pressure at the top but, for me, you won’t find any more pressure than when you are at the bottom and scrapping for points.
“I think you should, as much as you can, try to enjoy being at the top of the league and try to really enjoy that pressure that comes with being successful. Hopefully, we can do that.
“I think you have got to relish it and enjoy it.
“If you can’t enjoy being top of the league and in that position, then you are not going to enjoy anything in football.
“The players shouldn’t be feeling any pressure. We are a club which has gone through a lot of changes in the past few years but it is not very common that we have been in this position in our history.”
Howe plans to ensure his players quickly switch their focus to preparing for Saturday’s trip to Preston as they look to maintain their push for a place in the Championship.
He added: “What is key for me is that we try to focus on the next game and try to stay there. That is the most difficult part now – to try to stay there.
“Everyone will want to try to take our place so we have got to make sure nothing changes from our side and we continue to approach every game in the professional way that we have done.”