Stoke City; Pulis determined to address defensive issues
STOKE City's entire team, not just their goalkeeper and back four, have felt a cold stare from their manager following their collywobbles in defence.
Tony Pulis is desperate to avoid more errors creeping into Stoke's game ahead of tomorrow's collision with Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Co.
A repeat of the blunders which have left Stoke conceding 13 in their last four league games – after conceding just five in their previous 11 – would spell curtains to their hopes of reaching the fifth round tomorrow lunchtime.
And that's why Pulis has been back to basics on the training pitch this week and running through regular drills with his players ahead of the Manchester City tie.
"We've got really sloppy in the last few weeks," Pulis conceded, "and I think we have conceded six goals from set-pieces, first or second phase, and that's not like us.
"We have gone through the reasons and the lads will know and understand what they have to do and not do.
"We defend as a team and that's most probably where we have fallen down a bit because one or two have stopped doing their job.
"If you defend as individuals, it's much easier for clubs to score against you."
Not that the Stoke boss wants anyone getting too down in the dumps after three straight league defeats – however depressing the 3-1 loss at Swansea City six days ago when his players were eventually outclassed on the day.
"We never played well and it was a poor result," he acknowledged, "but a couple of weeks ago we'd gone 10 games unbeaten and people were jumping around.
"But as quickly as you can go on a good run in this league, you can then go on a bad one.
"You must never get too carried away with the good times, or get too despondent when it goes the other way."
Three defeats and the loss of all those goals have done nothing to weaken his resolve to try and conduct some transfer business ahead of next Thursday's deadline however.
"We need to freshen it up," he said, "and we are certainly weak in one or two areas, so we are trying."