That's a big win, that was my thought on the final whistle and still is now for so many reasons.
We finished last season in chaos and had to face the humiliation of that final day result and when the fixtures computer sent us back there for the very first fixture of the new season, I was concerned. Stoke is a hard enough place to get anything from, our record there is terrible and they well, really well at their ground against everybody, add to this the extra pressure from that result last year, the worries, the concerns that the players must of had and you can see why I think we were all concerned.
Stoke are simply a horrible team to play. I hear people tell me how they have changed styles, "that's not them anymore", "they like to get the ball down and play", " under Hughes they are different" but I saw different very physical all over the pitch, dirty even, huge long balls to the head of Walters throughout the game who played on Gomez trying to intimidate him throughout the match. A big reliance on set plays that were again pumped into the box and so on for me not much has changed. Not a criticism, all legitimate tactics to win a Premier League game, but horrible to play against and not the new Stoke we have been fed by the media. Liverpool had to stand up to the physicality, win individual battles, stay organised and strong at the back and hope the extra class would tell, they achieved all this and that is a credit to all the players.
Our manager, and players were under huge pressure to get a result following last seasons result at Stoke, the general failure to perform last year in particular in the run in, the pressure on the manager due to this failure last season and many fans belief that he should have been replaced, I'm certain that the manager has been put under extra pressure from the owners they have spent money they have given him the support in every way and I believe that they will expect a better level of performance for everybody.
The fixtures computer has given us a tough start to the season with a string of very difficult away games, to pick up points and stay in the race is going to be very difficult, extra pressure on everybody, again I'm not sure the manager will survive a poor start to the season with the expectations the owners must now have.
All the above combined made this fixture in my eyes before the game almost impossible, probably the worst possible opening day fixture we could have had and I think if before the game we were offered a draw we would have taken it, beyond any doubt. But we did better far better than that.
if we are honest it was a dog of a game it had to be we had to dog it out it's Stoke and they are horrible, we had to try and be strong, solid, compact we couldn't take another defeat like last year and we had to get something from the game to keep fans and owners happy or jobs may be at stake even this early,mother pressure would certainly been added to my media and the support, but we dodged it out well defenders did ok when last year they would have crumbled new full backs did very well under pressure midfield players covered huge amounts of ground and forwards battled and tried to find space with little quality service and then our quality told one moment of pure magic and we had the three points. We have players who can do that.
Because of the reasons listed above this game was hugely difficult and Liverpool overcame them all and won they got the three points and that could be huge, we will gain confidence, we will get belief the support will remain optimistic and positive, at least for one more week, a little of the pressure on the manager has been lifted, new players get more time to settle, to show us what they can do and perhaps most importantly we have a start, just a hint of momentum.
It meant a lot to everybody players, supporters, management and I sure owners you could tell by the players passion on scoring the goal and the away end went off, but let's keep our feet on the ground Bournmouth next and three more points badly needed.