We looked like we hadn't played in a while

Last updated : 25 January 2007 By Tony Scholes
Stoke boss Tony Pulis was dismayed at the way his side had been beaten at Preston on Saturday after taking an early 2-0 lead and he'd asked for more from his players ahead of this game against Burnley.

“Saturday was tough for us and it was important that we responded well. Burnley is a very difficult place to come because they work hard and it's a fantastic result. I said to the players, after bad results, it's not taking the punch and getting knocked down, it's about getting up as quickly as you can and that's what we've done.”

Steve Cotterill said we needed a game, and we were ready for it, but it turned into arguably the worst performance of the season but was counting the cost of this performance after the game. “I thought we started the game a little ring rusty and our tempo was too slow,” he said. “When we play like that, we don't get any team on the back foot.

“I have a theory on how many players you need playing well to get a good result. If all eleven play well you will win comprehensively, if seven or eight play well you will win, five or six and you'll get a win but if you get three or four you will lose, and we only had three or four tonight and we didn't do enough to win the game. Those are the cold, hard facts.

“We can skirt around it but at times we played with too much patience and at times with none at all. What happens then is you get a few moans and groans and then you're frightened to take the ball. We have to bully ourselves into accepting the ball at times.”

Cotterill singled out the one player he felt made the difference. “Fuller was excellent for them and he was the reason Stoke won. Had we had an on-song Ade Akinbiyi then maybe we would have won, but it looks as though he's spent a year in the gym and done no running, so he knows what he can look forward to. We have players who need to play some football. Ade, Joey Gudjonsson and Eric Djemba-Djemba all need more and they looked as though they did.”

He also commented on the performance of Michael Duff, a player who has been in excellent form this season. “Arguably, if the season stopped tomorrow, Michael Duff would be our player of the year, but you wouldn't have thought it from that performance. He will be gutted like the rest of them.

“We just had too many players off colour and we looked like we hadn't played in a while. All in all, Stoke deserved their win.