Chris Burton talks young managers and future ambitions with Bournemouth's Anton Robinson.
Last Updated: 22/03/10 7:31pm
Football is littered with tales of nearly men, those who came close but did not quite have enough to make the final step.
In fact, life is made up of such stories, with those who fall narrowly short providing more of a spectacle than those who run away with things.
Everyone loves a plucky loser, especially Brits. Everyone that is apart from the person/team in question.
To them, hours-days-months-years of hard work have gone to waste and they are left all alone to contemplate what might have been.
Their mind is full of 'what ifs'. If only I had done that. If only we had done this.
They frantically try to kid themselves that what has just occurred was, in some way, not entirely their fault, that someone else is to blame for their downfall.
Of course, most of the time this is a fruitless display of ignorance as there is normally only one person to blame - and they only need look in the mirror to find out who that is.
Life has a habit of putting your destiny in your own hands and it is up to us whether we take it or not.
Such a dilemma currently faces AFC Bournemouth, a side wobbling dangerously towards the top of League Two and whose fate could fall one of two ways.
Situation one sees the Cherries recover from a minor blip, rediscover their early-season form and strut confidently to automatic promotion.
Situation two sees the South Coast outfit slip from their lofty perch, crash into the play-offs and enter the lottery which is the end of season shake-up.
Obviously, those connected with the club are hoping the former proves to be correct, keen to ensure that a season which has promised much actually delivers.
Among those hoping to see those dreams to fruition is midfielder Anton Robinson, a man firmly in the belief that Bournemouth have what it takes to avoid the nearly men tag.
"We have been around the top for the last seven months and the teams below us are closing the gap, so it's getting very tight," he told skysports.com's Chris Burton.
"We just have to take every game as it comes and treat each game as a cup final.
"I'm still pretty confident. We have got nine games to play and I think we are still capable of beating any team on our day. It's still in our hands.
"If we don't get automatic then we will only have ourselves to blame. To mess up now, the boys would be kicking themselves."
Robinson feels Bournemouth have been dealt a difficult hand over recent weeks, with their untimely wobble a result of events out of their control.
He said: "I think we have been hard done by. We have got our captain, Jason Pearce, out and he has been a big loss. We have had a bit of a makeshift team for quite a while, but we have still been getting results and once everyone gets back fit we should get some more.
"We are confident of going anywhere, playing any team and picking up a result. We have just got to pray that everyone stays fit and that we don't get too many suspensions.
"If that happens, I am sure we will pick up wins along the way. We just need a good run-in now. I'm confident we can do that."
While Robinson admits Bournemouth are in danger of seeing a top-three finish slip through their grasp, their progress over the past 12 months has been nothing short of remarkable.
Facing financial ruin at the start of the 2008/09 campaign, the club's very existence was under threat.
They began the season with a 17-point penalty and appeared to be staring relegation in the face.
However, a massive effort from all concerned saw safety secured under highly-rated young coach Eddie Howe and the club have kicked on impressively this term.
"If you looked at the start of the season, people would have jumped at the chance to be third at this stage," said Robinson.
"We have done well and we owe it to ourselves to get automatic promotion. From last year, from being in a relegation dogfight all season, to being in an automatic promotion push, it's credit to the lads and credit to Jason (Tindall, assistant manager) and Eddie."
He added: "When Eddie took over, if you look at our form when we got out of relegation, I think we were in the top three in terms of form.
"We had the points deducted and then Eddie took over and the team turned it around. I think the form we showed we just carried over into this season. I think we were always up there and hopefully we can now just give it another push."
The monetary matters have also been laid to rest, with new owners taking charge at Dean Court last summer.
"We have got the new owners and they are Bournemouth people through and through," said Robinson.
"They are passionate about the club, so hopefully the club can push in the right direction off the field. Hopefully we can do it as well on it.
"Bournemouth deserve to be a League One club, so if we can get the off-field stuff right, the club will move forward."
Howe, though, deserves much of the credit for the reversal in fortune, with the 32-year-old having made the switch from player to manager look frighteningly simple.
Robinson said of his boss: "He deserves so much credit, he and Jason. To take a team inside the relegation zone, maybe having only two weeks to bring in players and then have the embargo, and to turn them into a top-three team, you have got to hand it to them.
"You deserve what you get in football and he and Jason watch the games, do their homework and they drill into us what we need to work on. They don't rest on their laurels and I am a strong believer in you get what you deserve, and they are getting it. They have been excellent."
On playing for a manager still younger than some members of the first-team squad, Robinson added: "It's funny. Look at Big Fletch (Steve Fletcher), he's good friends with Eddie, they played together and I think they even roomed together.
"I think it's weirder for the older lads, but Eddie has got an aura around him and you don't see him as a young manager. You respect him as a manager and that's that.
"He made the transition very well and as soon as I got here you knew that whatever he said was final. I think he has done very well, because it's hard for a player to cross that line."Robinson joined Bournemouth from Weymouth in January 2009, having slipped into non-league after failing to make the grade at Millwall.
He insists he was always confident he would bounce back onto the League ladder and believes his 'gamble' to join the Cherries has been more than justified.
"I was always confident in myself," said the 24-year-old.
"There are a lot of lads in the Conference now who are good enough to be in the League, you just have to keep playing and hopefully someone will take a chance on you. But I was always confident.
"When I first signed for Bournemouth the club was in financial turmoil and potentially, if they had got relegated, there might not have been an AFC Bournemouth.
"I had other offers on the table, but because I knew Bournemouth as a club, and I was living there, I knew they were good enough to get out of it and I gambled on that choice. I have never looked back."
Robinson feels he was denied a fair crack of the whip during his time at Millwall, unable to show what he is truly capable of, but harbours ambitions of showing the Lions just what they are missing by helping his current employers fulfil their potential and begin climbing the divisions.
"Any footballer wants to play as high as possible and I got a taste for it when I was at Millwall," he said.
"I was disappointed that I didn't get more of a chance to breakthrough there, but hopefully I have taken concrete steps, with the Conference and playing for Bournemouth, and I can get into League One and play regularly there."
He added: "First and foremost, I want to get Bournemouth promoted. Then I want to get a good season in League One and my biggest ambition is to play as high as possible.
"I would like to get back in the Championship if I can and see if I'm good enough to hold my own there."