HARRY Arter has no doubt Cherries can handle the weight of unprecedented expectation this season – with a little help from the home crowd.
Hopes have never been higher at Dean Court after Cherries achieved the highest league finish in their history – 10th in the Championship – on their return to the second tier last season.
With the exception of Lewis Grabban, the club have so far fended off significant interest in their prized assets and added to their artillery with the capture of midfielder Dan Gosling, winger Junior Stanislas and striker Callum Wilson.
But while Arter knows there will be heightened anticipation in the stands, the 24-year-old midfielder insisted any pressure on the squad would be self-inflicted and called on the crowd to maintain their unflinching support.
Arter told the Daily Echo: “It was always going to be different with the way we ended last season. With a couple of months to go, any thoughts of relegation were long gone and everybody felt we could crack on and reach the top six.
“Going into this season, everybody is thinking about the play-offs. We have a team that wants to succeed and get to the highest level so play-offs and promotions are part of the expectation we have for ourselves.
“If we take that mindset into the season then, game by game, I’m sure we will find ourselves in a positive position but the most important thing is that nobody gets too carried away whether we start well or not.
“At the start of last season, a few of the results weren’t great and if the crowd had got on top of us it could have had a negative impact but they helped us through those tough times.
“From the day Eddie Howe came back you could see how much influence he has on the crowd and that reflected in the team’s performances straight away.
“Before that, they didn’t have as much motivation to get behind us because they weren’t too pleased with who was in charge. That had an effect and without doubt, the change in mood has played a part in our success over the past couple of years.
“It’s important to remember, though, that we have only been in the division one year. Some big clubs have come in with financial clout so we need to be realistic because the club is still growing compared with others.
“This season we need everyone behind us again and I’m sure we can be successful. We have a manager who expects high standards and I think the crowd realise that everyone is giving their all.
“We’re aiming to go as far as we can but we will need them to stick with us if we’re not having a good time.”
- Cherries’ Championship clash at Watford on Saturday, September 20 will now kick-off at 12.15pm and will be broadcast by Sky Sports.