Adam: Struggling Stoke must stay united
Charlie Adam believes Stoke City's players need to be mentally resilient to overcome the criticism that is blighting their season.
Tony Pulis's side were booed off following Saturday's 1-0 home defeat against West Ham United and have now lost seven out of 11 league and FA Cup games in a so far unhappy 2013.
The club are still in mid-table but the reaction of the Britannia Stadium masses, who have been praised down the years for their partisan backing, suggests some have become blasé about life in the middle of the Premier League.
"It is difficult," the midfielder said. "Supporters have their opinions, the same as anybody else, and if they want to voice them that way, that is fine.
"We are frustrated as players because we know we can do better. Sometimes you just need a little bit of luck to change the season.
"We have to be strong enough characters to go on and deal with that and win games. It is not always rosy in the garden and you have to take criticism when things are not going as well."
Stoke have now been beaten 1-0 in three of their last four matches, around a home victory over Reading, and the "underdog" spirit that helped carry them in their first two or three seasons back at this level appears to have dissolved.
A lack of goals - only five in eight league games since successive sets of three against Liverpool and Southampton in the Christmas week - is at the root of their current struggles but they still have their heads above water and are well placed to secure a sixth successive season of top-flight football with time to spare.
"This club has been in the Premier League for the last five years," Adam added. "When the previous owners were in charge, it was nearly going under. It was struggling.
"I don't think the fans have disbelief in what the manager is doing. But it is expectation because we have good players.
"Do the club want to be fighting relegation every year? No. We want to be finishing in the top ten but it takes time. We are stable in the Premier League, we have terrific owners who back the club and back the manager, and he has done a terrific job.
"The thing is ... we need to progress every season. The manager has done that since he has come into the Premier League. He has brought quality every year and, with that, comes expectation.
"You never know what can happen. For us, it is about finishing as high as we can and trying to do well in the cup competitions. We need to regroup, knuckle down and go again next week. We would have taken this position."
Adam went as close as anyone to saving the day against the Hammers when he chested down and volleyed against the bar from outside the area in the dying moments.
It was a glimpse of the finesse the side's recent performances have been lacking and the midfielder will hope he did enough in his appearance as substitute to warrant a starting place for the first time in a month and a half when Stoke play at Newcastle next Sunday.
"It is the manager's decision," he said. "He makes the decisions and that is football. But, when called upon, you have to try to make an impact. Hopefully, I can do that.
"We should be winning at home. These are the games we need to win and we are disappointed we didn't.
"I thought we huffed and puffed a little bit and never had enough crosses in the box. When we have someone like Crouchy, or Kenwyne or Cameron up there, we have to put quality into the box. I think that is right throughout the team. We never had the cutting edge to get in the game."