Lou Macari: Video nasty no way to get over City's Hammers horror
TONY Pulis will have spent the weekend thinking long and hard about how to approach training this week.
After a home defeat, and when you're struggling for results in general, it's left to the manager to come up with the answers.
But what to do with a tricky trip to Newcastle United coming up this Sunday?
Do you have a go at the players, or do you soft soap them to help build up their flagging confidence?
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Do you break the usual routine and give them a treat to help with team bonding, or do you just get out on to the training pitch and put them through their paces?
Or do you take them off to Dubai for a few days in the sun?
That worked a treat for QPR last week after they returned home and got a result at Southampton, but I'm not sure a few days in the desert is the answer for everyone.
It might just be that Rangers got the right breaks at the right time at St Mary's to win a tight game.
Those breaks certainly aren't going for Stoke right now judging by Charlie Adam's injury-time shot against the West Ham cross bar on Saturday.
It's when you are in a bad trot that you notice such misfortune.
You are probably getting the same breaks go for you when you win tight games, it's just that you prefer to put it down to a great header or a fantastic shot – and forget about the foul you got away with in the build-up to a goal.
So how do you approach the start of the week after a bad result?
When I was manager at Stoke, I wouldn't give the players the choice of 90 minutes in the pouring rain on the training ground or a re-run of Saturday's game on video in a nice warm room.
They were good characters in those days, but they'd still plump for the warm room if given the chance.
But bcause they were good characters, you knew they could take any criticism coming their way.
In fact, I'd often get into the dressing room after a bad performance and they'd be having it out among themselves, so I wouldn't have to say anything myself.
Nowadays, however, I'm not so sure the modern Premier League player is quite so happy accepting criticism.
How often do we hear a Premier League manager come out publicly after a game and say that their players were a shambles.
Did we hear it from Arsene Wenger after Arsenal's shambolic defending against Tottenham on Sunday?
Sometimes, if I thought it would help, I would treat the players to a meal out to break the routine a bit.
The bill would be on me or the club... and it was a treat for the lads.
But today, your average Premier League player could foot the entire bill himself with the loose change in his pocket.
He might even think about buying the restaurant as well if he fancied it, so that option isn't really open to Tony and his Premier League counterparts.
So what is the answer for Stoke? Well I'll take a stab at what I believe is a pretty simple solution when you think about it.
I would have them on the training pitch working hard, but then I would have them in the nice warm room to watch a DVD afterwards.
But instead of re-running the West Ham defeat, or the loss at Fulham the week before, and risk one or two falling asleep or sending a shiver down their spine at any mistakes they made, I'd instead re-run the Boxing Day win over Liverpool.
I watched the game that evening and have to say it was not only a terrific display by anyone's standards, it was also a typical "Stoke City" performance.
What you saw that night was players closing down the opposition, pressuring them up the pitch to win corners and throws in dangerous areas, getting their tackles in when they had to, and generally busting a gut for the cause.
There was fine finishing as well when it counted, but in the main there was hard work from start to finish.
I wasn't at the game on Saturday, but whatever else was or wasn't going on, I can't believe for one moment that the Stoke players worked as hard as they did that night against Liverpool.
It doesn't matter whether or not you decide to play a man in the hole, or employ this tactic or that.
Unless you carry out the basic of working hard, you are in trouble.