By Andy Cryer
Tony Pulis is becoming a victim of his own success at Stoke City, says former Potters boss Lou Macari.
Pulis’s side travel to fellow strugglers QPR on Saturday three points above the relegation zone and with only two wins in their last 17 Premier League games.
“Expectations are much higher now and that is unfair on Tony,” said Macari.
“I am surprised the feeling around Stoke has changed and it is because of the success Tony has brought here.”
Macari, 63, who had two spells as Stoke manager, believes growing criticism towards Pulis is harsh and takes confidence that Stoke remain in control of their own fate.
“It has been a fantastic journey at Stoke under Tony Pulis, unbelievable really,” said Macari. “That journey is not over either as Stoke can still stay up – it is in their own hands.
“Now it seems as though fans expect Stoke to be pushing on and finishing in the top 10.
“The sacking of managers these days is ridiculous but every time one of these changes works, it makes it even more dangerous for managers in work.”
Appointed manager for a second time in 2006, Pulis helped Stoke end a 23-year top-flight absence in 2008 before guiding them to 12th-, 11th-, 13th- and 14th-place finishes over their four Premier League campaigns.
Supporters have grown frustrated this season as Stoke failed to progress up the table despite significant summer purchases, with their net spend over the past five seasons reportedly close to £80m.
“I don’t think the money they have spent has raised eyebrows in terms of how much they have spent on individual players,” said Macari, who took Stoke to the Division Two title in 1993 and to the First Division play-offs during a second spell at the helm in 1996.
“It is big money for Stoke but I don’t think it has been that big for the Premier League.
“Every team in the Premier League should set their objectives at the start of the season. At Stoke you should be talking about making sure you don’t get involved in relegation. Tony has delivered every season.
“Saturday is QPR’s last chance. If they don’t win the game they are gone, so Stoke are probably facing QPR at the worst possible time.
“If Stoke win at Loftus Road it would be a big step towards safety.”