Serial winner Gary Cahill says he has no plans to change his mindset after lining up in the Championship for the first time in almost 14 years.
Cahill marked his AFC Bournemouth debut by helping the Cherries record a 3-0 win over Barnsley on Saturday – the same opposition he faced in his last outing in the second flight.
The defender, who last month penned a one-year contract at Vitality Stadium, was 21 when he turned out for Sheffield United against the Tykes during a loan spell from Aston Villa in 2007.
Cahill went on to become one of the leading appearance-makers in the Premier League, playing 394 games for Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea and Crystal Palace.
During eight years at Stamford Bridge, he won the Champions League, the Europa League twice, two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the League Cup.
Asked whether he would have to change his mindset having dropped into the Championship, Cahill said: “I don’t think I should change my mindset. I always play games knowing they are going to be very tough and knowing we’re coming up against good players.
“The moment you think ‘oh, you’ve dropped down a level, it’s going to be easy’ – that’s a very dangerous attitude to have and one I definitely won’t be going into any of these games with.
“In terms of coming to a club like this, I could have stayed in the Premier League and played in the Premier League. But the days of challenging for the title and playing Champions League football have gone past.
“The decision for me in the summer was ‘what’s going to drive me this next season?’ Am I going to just add appearances to my record in the Premier League or is there going to be another challenge?
“A challenge where I come into an exciting new group, with a new manager, a young squad, a squad that’s fighting for promotion along with six, seven, eight other teams. I’m not deluded in that aspect, it’s going to be very tough as well.
“But the mindset, it’s almost like going back to when I was at Chelsea, the mindset here should be you try to win every single game. A draw is not good enough, not enough. That should be the mindset.
“In terms of the way I approach games, I approach every game that we need to get three points if we want to get to the eventual target at the end of the season.
“We know that’s not always going to happen but that’s the mindset I have and that’s the one everyone else here should have.”
Cahill added: “It’s totally different here, there’s a freshness. It’s something I thought long and hard about in the summer.
“I have played in the top league for the majority of my career and that is where you always want to be and it’s where these young boys should want to get to. What I am seeing in training is a desire and passion that that’s where they want to play.
“It’s almost like you see yourself in some of these younger players. When I was on loan in the Championship, all I wanted to do was play Premier League football.
“Then, you play in the Premier League and you want to play for a top team. You’ve got all these hurdles. I’m looking at the young players and thinking that should be their motivation and drive.
“For me, winning football matches is my drive and trying to help this young team. That’s why I needed something to go at, hence, why I came to this club. My attitude and the way I approach football matches is to win.”
Asked to compare the Championship now with the one he played in during the 2007/08 season, Cahill replied: “It’s very different. I knew it was going to be different because it had been many years since I last played in it when I was on loan.
“I enjoyed my time in the Championship. It developed me hugely from a young reserve team player into the transition of playing for points and playing professionally in men’s football.
“It was always going to be new and different but I have to adapt. I chose to come here and play in this league so now it’s about adapting for me.”
Having played his part as the Cherries maintained their unbeaten start against Barnsley, Cahill will be hoping to feature against QPR on Tuesday, another team yet to have tasted defeat this season.
“I thought we played well and made it difficult for Barnsley,” said the 35-year-old. “There weren’t too many attacks we had to deal with and it was more building from the back and being on the front foot going forward.
“It was a good game for me to come in to. It had been three-and-a-bit months since I last played so that was important because the more I play, hopefully, the sharper I’ll become.
“QPR have started the season terrifically well so it’s going to be a tough test. We’ve done work, we’ve seen the videos and seen how they play. Tactically, we’ve got our plan and we’ve just got to adapt to that and also adapt to the game and how it goes.”