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Mar 4, 2013

Pulis: You have to accept criticism

Tony Pulis insists he can put up with the criticism that is accompanying Stoke City's struggle to get over the finishing line in securing a sixth successive season in the Premier League.

Stoke remain on 33 points and have added only five to their tally since beating Liverpool on Boxing Day. Even so, the booing that greeted the final whistle of Saturday's defeat against West Ham United smacked of fans who overlook the fact that their club spent almost a quarter of a century out of the top flight until being returned to it by Pulis in 2008.

"You have to accept there's going to be criticism if supporters want more," he said. "And supporters do want more. Whatever you do and whatever you don't.

"It's such a tough job, especially at this level. They want improvement year after year. But someone has to take a reality check now and again. I went and watched Bolton last Tuesday. Look at Wolves as well on Friday night - and Blackburn. They are three clubs who have been relegated. We are fortunate to be in the Premier League.

"The problem you have is that the more successful you are in terms of what we have achieved and the size of the club, people want more. But that's life. If you don't accept that, you shouldn't be a manager."

Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez have both recently been publicly critical of sections of their club's support but Pulis, who is the top flight's fourth longest-serving manager behind Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger and David Moyes, has always acknowledged and appreciated the special atmosphere created at the Britannia Stadium.

He is clearly aware of the need for maximum vocal backing and the statistics would appear to bear out that the two factions are largely in harmony. This was only Stoke's second home League defeat of the season.

There has been a shift in public mood, though, while the side have struggled for the first two months of 2013.

"Football reflects society in many respects and people expect instant things," the manager added. "I worked here before when things weren't going well and took some stick then.

"I've got broad shoulders. I know where I am and what I'm about. I also know where the club is and what it's about, with regard to the owners and everything else. I understand the frustration of the supporters."

Pulis recognised the lack of quality in his side's attacking at the weekend but is unsure whether the deft touches of Matt Etherington will be available to him for Sunday's game at Newcastle.

The former Hammers winger still has a sore back after being taken off in the first half of the defeat at Fulham nine days ago and is causing some concern in the Potters camp.

Michael Owen will also be assessed as he steps up his work after returning to training on Thursday and Friday.

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