Stoke City: Tony Pulis tells critics to look at the big picture
TONY Pulis believes Stoke City's critics are being too harsh in their assessment of the club this season.
Stoke go into tomorrow's home game with West Ham amid plenty of grumblings from fans frustrated with performances and the club's away record.
Pulis acknowledges Stoke's poor run away from home after just one victory in 23 in the Premier League, but insists they have played and competed better than those figures suggest.
"You take Manchester City, Swansea and the first half at Fulham last week out of it," he said, "and our performances away have been better this season.
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"Even against the top teams, we've got draws at Liverpool and Tottenham, we went to Manchester United and gave them a game, went to Chelsea and were unlucky and went to Arsenal and got beat by a deflected goal."
He continued: "What we are doing is putting an infrastructure in place that a lot of Premier League clubs would like – and we are doing that and staying in the league at the same time.
"And all because we want a future with a good side in the Premier League."
His passionate defence comes as Stoke aim to extend a home record of just one defeat in their last 20 league games at the Britannia where, Pulis insists, fans have shown their true colours.
"Our home form has been fantastic this year," he continued, "and we've got to continue to make sure we get results.
"We must never forget what a tough league this is. There's a certain complacency that can creep into places and we mustn't let that get too deep."
West Ham's eight points on their travels is only one better than Stoke's this season, but Pulis warns that the absence of defender Robert Huth through suspension and the possible loss of winger Matthew Etherington through injury could tilt the balance away from Stoke.
"Every game between now and the end of the season will be tough," he added.
"We've got to get those points for safety. We will need help off our fans, especially with Robert out and maybe Matty as well."
Huth starts a three-match ban for violent conduct at Fulham last Saturday, while Etherington remains under treatment for the back injury he suffered at Craven Cottage.
Pulis says it is a toss up between Marc Wilson and Geoff Cameron to replace Huth and play alongside skipper Ryan Shawcross at centre-half.
"Marc has played there plenty of times for Portsmouth in the past," he said, "and Geoff has played there for the United States and Houston."
Michael Kightly stands by for Etherington on the flank.
West Ham are without skipper Kevin Nolan after he broke a toe against Tottenham on Monday.