'The season starts now' for Stoke City says Tony Pulis after loss to Manchester United

The Potters lost 2-0 at home to United

Tony Pulis has told his players the season starts now and challenged them to win two of their final five games to ensure Stoke will have a sixth consecutive season of Premier League football.

The Potters looked well placed to achieve their target of a top-10 finish when they went on a 10-game unbeaten run through November and December, but Pulis has always been careful to stress survival is the priority, and it has become increasingly clear why.

Stoke have picked up only five points since the turn of the year and yesterday's 2-0 defeat by Manchester United extended their miserable run to one point from seven games.

That left Pulis' side in 16th, three points clear of 18th-placed Wigan but having played two games more.

With games against QPR, Norwich and Sunderland coming up, Stoke's fate remains well within their own hands, and Pulis is determined to look forward with optimism.

He said: "I've just spoken to the players. It's a five-game season. There's eight, maybe nine teams that are in the scrap and we've just got to make sure, no matter what's happened before, the season really starts for us now. I still say 40 points will do it.

"We just haven't had the breaks, and that's what happens in runs like this. The most important thing is that you all stay nice and positive - and it's difficult to do that - and focus.

"What's gone has gone, the important thing is looking to the next game and then the next game."

At the other end of the table, United restored their 15-point lead over Manchester City and need only another seven points from six games to secure a 20th top-flight title.

Michael Carrick opened the scoring inside four minutes but it was the second goal, scored by Robin van Persie from the penalty spot midway through the second half, that really pleased United.

The Dutchman had gone 10 United games without a goal and celebrated exuberantly by embracing Sir Alex Ferguson and then being swamped by his team-mates.

Van Persie told Sky Sports: "It was relief but it was an important time in the game. I had to score that one and thankfully it went in. The relief of a couple of weeks came out I would say.

"I wanted to celebrate with everyone as they have been great to me from day one, even when it is a little harder they still support me and believe in me and help me when they can."

As well as the title, United also have Chelsea's record Premier League points tally of 95 in their sights - six wins would give them 98.

Van Persie said: "There are six to go and we have to go for all of them. If we win them all we get the record in our pockets, so it is a good aim."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee