Pulis: Time to push on

Tony Pulis wants Stoke to finish the season on a high after two wins in a row all but guaranteed their Premier League survival.

Last Updated: 03/05/13 at 16:15 Post Comment   

Tony Pulis wants Stoke to finish the season on a high after two wins in a row all but guaranteed a sixth successive season of Barclays Premier League football.

After picking up only five points from their first 13 games in 2013, Stoke appeared to be in major danger of slipping into the bottom three, but back-to-back wins over QPR and Norwich have settled nerves.

The Potters now sit 12th, eight points clear of 18th-placed Wigan and only two points adrift of a top-10 place, ahead of Monday's trip to Sunderland.

Pulis said: "We've got 40 points and a good goal difference, which is what we wanted. Now it's the time to push on.

"We have to get more points. Mathematically we're still not safe. It would be lovely to finish the season with a few more wins.

"The worry is the longer (the bad run) goes on, you get dragged into it.

"Winning breeds confidence and confidence is a massive factor in professional sport, individually and collectively. We'll go up to Sunderland on Monday, we know it will be a tough game, and we'll give it our best shot."

There has been plenty of doom and gloom in the Potteries in recent months but wins from their remaining games against Sunderland, Tottenham and Southampton would see Stoke reach 49 points, their highest Premier League total.

A first top-10 finish is also within sight, but Pulis' mantra throughout the club's time in the league has revolved around staying on an even keel, and that will not change.

He said: "If we win the remaining three I think that will be the record number of points that we've returned in the Premier League, but that's the Premier League, there's thin lines between success and failure.

"Success for us, and always will be, is staying in the Premier League. Anything else then is a bonus. We've got to maintain that focus. I don't think we can get above ourselves.

"There's seven or eight clubs who you can say are guaranteed Premier League football, the rest of us are fighting for our lives. And that will happen unless something dramatic turns around."

Pulis has come in for plenty of individual criticism in recent weeks, especially from supporters unhappy with the Potters' style of play.

Speculation about the Welshman's job has been rife, but he is keen to stay and it would be a surprise if chairman Peter Coates, with whom he has a very good relationship, opted to remove him.

Pulis said: "As a person you have to stay as level as you possibly can and, while the guns are firing and the arrows are flying past you, you've got to make sure you're strong enough to take them and move on.

"You have to accept you're going to get pats on the back and other people are going to kick you up the backside, that's part and parcel of management.

"It's one of the great countries in the world because everybody's allowed to say what they want to say. We've got to make sure we keep that part of our tradition. I understand how privileged I am."

Pulis does concede, though, that he and the club have made mistakes this season.

The boss has been disappointed with the number of chances his team have created - they have scored only 31 goals from 35 matches - while he failed to address deficiencies in the side in the January transfer window.

He said: "There are certain aspects that you look back on and you think you could have dealt with that better and maybe we should have done one or two things a little bit different but that's for me to discuss with the powers that be.

"Hopefully we can make sure we learn from those one or two mistakes. But if we end the season well we could end up in the top half of the table, which would be a great season for us."


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