Stoke City: Peter Coates urges fans to back team during poor run
STOKE City chairman Peter Coates admits results must improve after just one win in the club's last nine Premier League games.
But he insists there will be no panicking in the boardroom in the wake of growing discontent among Stoke fans.
"We are clearly having a bad run and not playing well," he acknowledged, "but I think these are fine margins.
"We did enough in the second half at Fulham to get something out of the game and I didn't think we deserved to lose against West Ham."
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Coates declined to give manager Tony Pulis the dreaded vote of confidence, but clearly remains supportive in the face of growing disquiet.
"If your team is not doing well, your crowd gets restive. It's no different in Stoke than anywhere else," he added.
However, Coates is hopeful supporters will continue to see the bigger picture and believe, like him, that overall progress is being made.
"Our current squad is the best we've had," he argued, "and to me that represents progress. He (Pulis) has been here seven years and I think fair-minded Stoke supporters would think they were seven good years.
"Our worst finish in the Premier League has been 14th. We would like to finish higher, but this is a highly-competitive game and we are playing in the toughest league in the world."
Coates remains confident that when the team are up against it, the fans will still back them. He said: "The best help they can give the club is to get behind the team. They have in the past and, when push comes to shove, I am sure they will again."
The first team returned to training today ahead of Sunday's visit to Newcastle (3pm) with Matthew Etherington still under treatment for a back injury.
Pulis is hoping Michael Owen will complete a full-week's training to leave him in contention for the bench.