Stoke chairman Peter Coates has handed his backing to Tony Pulis following just one win in their last nine Premier League games. He told the Stoke Sentinel: "We are clearly having a bad run and not playing well but I think these are fine margins.

"We did enough in the second half at Fulham to get something out of the game and I didn't think we deserved to lose against West Ham.

"If your team is not doing well, your crowd gets restive. It's no different in Stoke than anywhere else."

But Coates added: "Our current squad is the best we've had and to me that represents progress.

"He (Pulis) has been here seven years and I think fair-minded Stoke supporters would think they were seven good years.

"Our worst finish in the Premier League has been 14th. We would like to finish higher, but this is a highly-competitive game and we are playing in the toughest league in the world."