Tony Pulis has called on his Stoke City players to step up to the mark.
A crushing 3-1 defeat to fellow strugglers Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon was Stoke’s ninth Premier League loss since the turn of the year, and leaves them just four points above the relegation zone with six matches of the season left to play.
Whilst Pulis feels his side were unlucky not to get at least a draw against the Midlands club, citing the refusal of the officials to award them two penalties, he accepts they are now in a battle to retain a top-flight status they have held since winning promotion in 2007-08.
“There are six games to go, we have got to get to 40 points, and it’s tough,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s a test of everybody’s character around the place. You have got to believe. We have as much as anybody else. But the players are the ones that you have got to give the belief to and they have got to be the ones that have got to step up to the mark.”
Manchester United travel to the Britannia Stadium next weekend, when they could be in a position to wrap up the title. Stoke then head to Loftus Road to face Queens Park Rangers, who have only won twice at home all season, before Norwich City visit on 27 April.
The Potters travel to another club fighting the drop, Sunderland, for their first match in May, before Tottenham Hotspur provide the opposition for their final home game of the campaign. And on the final weekend, Pulis takes his side to Southampton, who are heading towards survival after beating Reading 2-0 at the Madejski Stadium in Saturday’s early kick-off.