Stoke City: Results have not matched performances on the road, says Tony Pulis
TONY Pulis holds his hands up to Stoke's poor away record ahead of tomorrow's lunchtime visit to Fulham (12.45pm).
December's win at West Brom is their only victory in 22 trips since the start of last year – and some fans don't even count winning at Albion.
But despite the grumbles of travelling Stokies, Pulis insists performances this season have improved on the road.
"I think we've played better away from home than we have in all previous years in the Premier League, but we just haven't had the results," he said.
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"There's only been one or two where we have let ourselves down.
"Some of our performances have been as good, if not better, than the best we have put on in the past.
"It is a concern because we have a smashing group of lads and we just need that bit of luck as much as anything else."
Luck? Ah yes, that final refuge for a manager under pressure, you might suggest, but no-one at Arsenal on Stoke's last trip out of the Potteries three weeks ago could deny fortune had flashed its backside at them that day.
"This year we've gone to Arsenal," Pulis added, "and where two or three years ago we are living on a prayer and hoping to get out alive, this year we've lost to a deflected free-kick late in the game.
"We haven't had the breaks and you always need those, especially away from home."
Pulis also acknowledged the graphic difference between Stoke's home results and away results during their four-and-a-half seasons in the Premier League.
There is always a gap between the two, of course, but that gap has tended to be widest where Stoke are concerned.
"Yes, we've had it ever since we were in the Premier League," he acknowledged. Our home form has been as good as most clubs and our away form as poor as most."
Stoke's dismal winning run away from the Britannia does include nine draws in those 22 games – but that's not enough for some fans.
Pulis acknowledges their right to complain, but has vehemently repeated his desire for onlookers to keep things in perspective.
"Never mind what you give certain people, they will always want a little bit more and you have to accept that," he said.
"They pay their money and so they have a right to moan or to do somersaults.
"Every year we stay in the Premier League is a massive result.
"You only have to look at the size of the clubs fighting for their lives to stay in the Premier to make you realise you should never take your foot off the pedal. You ask supporters of those football clubs if they are just happy to stay in the Premier League.
"People will demand more, but we keep our feet on the ground and accept the basics... and that's to keep ourselves in the Premier and improve at the same time, on and off the pitch.
"But it has to be done in a slow and calculated way.
"And our first priority is always to stay in the Premier League."
But he is equally vehement in denying any suggestion that survival is the limit of his ambitions.
"We want to get to 40 points as soon as we can. And when we have done that, come back and ask me what we want to do next and I'll tell you."