Football - Pulis urges critics to direct ire at him

Thick-skinned Tony Pulis will continue to take supporters' criticism on the chin as long as they direct it at him and not his players.

PA Sport

Stoke were booed off the pitch after last weekend's 1-0 defeat by West Ham at the Britannia Stadium, extending their bad run to only one win from the last nine Barclays Premier League games.

Pulis said: "If they're going to criticise, I'd rather they criticised me. I'm on the bench, you can't affect the game that much, and you need the players to be playing with confidence and freedom.

"Those players don't deserve criticism. They've been absolutely fantastic for this football club. If there's a gripe, have it with the manager - leave the players alone.

"If they go out there feeling the supporters are behind them, it's a lot easier than thinking the supporters are just waiting for a moment to criticise. We need to instill that little bit of strength and steel into the players without a question of a doubt.

"When you go on a run of games when you're not winning, you always get a dip in confidence but you have to accept that. You have good times and you have bad times.

"Football is a reflection of life and it ebbs and flows. You have periods where you think you can rule the world and the next day it feels like everything's on top of you."

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