Stoke City boss Tony Pulis ready for relegation battle

 

Manager Tony Pulis has challenged his Stoke players to "step up to the mark" to ensure the Potters fight their way clear of Premier League relegation.

A routine 2-0 defeat by Manchester United saw Stoke drop to 16th in the table, only three points above the drop zone with five games left.

Stoke on the slide

  • Stoke have picked up fewer points (five) in 2013 than any other Premier League team.
  • They have scored fewer goals than any Premier League side netting 28 goals in 33 games.
  • Stoke have now won just one of their last eight league games at the Britannia

"It is a dogfight with eight or nine teams down there battling," Pulis said.

"But this is when you need characters and you need people to step up to the mark. We need to roll our sleeves up."

Goals from Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick saw United restore their 15-point lead at the top of the Premier League and deepen Stoke's relegation worries.

Pulis's side have won only one of their past 14 league games, picking up just one point out of a possible 21, and face four of their fellow strugglers - Queens Park Rangers, Norwich, Sunderland and Southampton - in their final five matches.

"Now it is a five-game season, we have to rally the lads, rally the crowd," Pulis added.

"Every year since we have been in this league it has been tough. What we need is a break, a little bit of luck. I am very confident we can get out of trouble, it is just making sure the players and everyone at the club sticks together. The season starts now."