TONY PULIS has stressed the importance of Stoke City sticking to what they have done best over the past six years as they look to get their season back on track in the Barclays Premier League match at Newcastle United on Sunday.
Pulis’ side have managed only one win in their last nine matches ahead of the tough test at St James’ Park and the manager accepts and understands the frustrations of supporters following that dip in fortunes since the turn of the year.
As well as their recent record, City will also be aiming to improve their disappointing away record which has seen them win only once on their travels in the current campaign, a victory that came at West Brom back in early December.
“It’s been a disappointing run, and when there is a disappointing run, supporters let you know,” conceded Pulis at his pre-match press conference.
“As we know from previous seasons at this level, it ebbs and flows. Before Christmas we went 10 matches unbeaten, now we’ve had one win in nine matches, but if you look back, we’ve had spells like this before in the Premier League.
“We have to believe in what we have been doing and make sure the players aren’t affected by it. The important thing is putting the players out there in a positive frame of mind, so they can give their best. That’s what we intend to do.”
He added: “The thing is that we are playing in the toughest League in the world where you have good runs and you have bad runs.
“What you have to do is stick together. You need that little bit of support, you need that little bit of help from everyone around.”
Pulis will be hoping to give supporters something to cheer about, especially those who make the trip to the North East for Sunday’s game.
“When you’re losing games, you have to take the criticism,” said Pulis. “I’ve been in the game long enough to recognise and understand that people have their opinions.
“You have to accept criticism from supporters because they pay their money and so they have every right to criticise when they are not happy.
“But if you look at what we’ve done over the past six years, I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved and so is everyone else at the Club. It’s also important to remember that as we are talking at the moment, we are eleventh in the table.”
Pulis does not necessarily share the view that City have picked a good time to be playing Newcastle United following their Europa League exploits.
Alan Pardew’s injury-hit squad claimed a highly-creditable draw out in Moscow on Thursday evening before facing a long journey home.
“Only two or three of those players who played on Thursday will probably face us,” commented City’s manager ahead of the match.
“The good thing from their point of view is that they are at home, whereas nine out of ten times we played in the Europa League last season, we then played away from home, which made it very doubly difficult to cope with the demands.
“Newcastle had injury problems at the start of the season and they had the Europa League to contend with as well, but they used the January transfer window well to bring in some quality players and they now have a very strong squad.”