Tony Pulis: Stoke City fans should criticise me, not the players
TONY Pulis is asking angry and frustrated Stoke fans to spare the players and let him take the flak.
The Stoke boss acknowledges there will be unrest among the faithful after one win in nine and a serious lack of goal threat ahead of tomorrow's visit to Newcastle (3pm).
He said: "When you are losing games you have to take the criticism. People are allowed to have their opinions and rightly so.
"If I was a younger manager I'd be wondering what was going on, but I know things can change quickly.
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"You accept criticism from your own supporters because they are the ones who pay and they will be here long after I've gone.
"But if they are going to criticise, I would rather they criticise me because you need the players to be playing with confidence and freedom."
Stoke travel to St James' Park with just one win in their last 23 away games in the Premier League, but Pulis maintains that only at Manchester City, Swansea and the first half at Fulham were they poor.
"Performances haven't been as bad as results," he argued, "and we've played really well away at times. Apart from those three games, we have been competitive.
"We don't do anything different for away games to home games. We only change it around to suit the players available. We just try to get a formula to try to win games."
On the subject of lack of goals and lack of entertainment, he was both sympathetic and forthright in his assessment.
"We've got to get through to the end of the season and then we'll look at it," he stated.
"The supply to the forwards hasn't been as good as we would expect and it's something we have been talking about for a while.
"You've got to give the forwards opportunity to score goals, and if there is a weakness it's that we haven't been getting enough end product. You can't just blame the forwards for that.
"But we have to turn it around now and get some results."
Matthew Etherington has trained for the past couple of days to put himself in contention to return after injuring his back at Fulham a fortnight ago.
Michael Owen has also come through training this week with no ill-effects, leaving him as a possible substitute against one of his former clubs.