THERE’S something about Stoke away which is so off-putting as to almost make you not want to watch it.

Memories of the 6-1 when everyone at Liverpool should have been dismissed instantly, a horrible drive to get there; it’s further than you think, you know, them M6 roadworks go on for ever. It’s not pleasant at all. By the way, the extent to which I am going to town when them M6 roadworks are finished is beyond comparison to any other town shouts. I’m basically going to get in me car, drive to junction 15, do a massive “Uey” (how the frig do you spell ‘Uey’, by the way… ‘U’ey? Editor – He means a U-turn) batter back with abandon straight into town while shouting “town, town, town” over and over until I get to Upper Parli, where I’m going to leave my car to fall into the river while I run straight into the nearest boozer.

It’s relatively fair to say that Stoke is not the most aesthetically pleasing gaff in Europe. In fact while we are on the subject of Europe, it’s also the self-proclaimed capital of Brexit — putting it immediately in the top five worst capitals in the world, along with the likes of St Helens (capital of wool) and Blackpool (capital of fairs and stag dos).

The only thing I can liken the thought of going to Stoke to is a Friday night Ryanair flight. You know the ones, where stag and hen dos get a little bit too excited and basically turn into animals who forget how to eat and behave in public. I was on a Friday night Ryan recently and witnessed some of the most appalling eating and finger licking from what can only be described as a medieval cave dweller wearing a wig and a bit of a blouse. I’m not being funny but I nearly had to get off, somewhere over Toulouse.

You can picture the scene. At my funeral, people huddling outside waiting for the procession, whispering: “How did he die?”

“Well, he jumped out of a plane.”

“That’s heavy, isn’t it? Why? Was he depressed?”

“No, he just seen some bad ming licking lasagne off her fingers and decided he’d take his chances with the 36,000ft drop.”

Wools, mate. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately and trying to categorise them a fair bit. Worst wool categories as follows:

  1. Bad wools
  2. Excitable wools
  3. Eating wools
  4. Friday night, Ryanair flight, bad, excitable, eating wools
  5. Wools

There is no comparison to number four, there. It’s the equivalent of spawning a clone of one part each of big Donnie Trump, Katie Hopkins and Johnny Vegas, injecting the offspring with lemo, giving it the insides of a meat and potato pie to eat without a knife and fork and then sharing a lift with it to the moon.

Before you all start crying about woolism on The Anfield Wrap, while the standard definition of a wool is someone from Liverpool’s surrounding hinterland, I prefer Gibbo’s oft overlooked statement that wool is more of a state of mind rather than a geographical-related issue. I think Alicia Keys wrote a song about it once. I’ve met a fair few bad wools who have got a purple bin, and a load of strictly speaking wools who are absolute Scousers. Relax, bro.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 8, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after the 2-1 victory over Stoke City during the FA Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Anyway, Friday night Ryan. Christ knows you have to get on the plane because you really want to go on holiday, but what an ordeal. The same as Stoke away. Traumatic, off-putting, but hopefully a nice time for all concerned when the Redmen rock up and put on a show.

Saturday, had the potential for another harrowing day.

The Reds, fresh from Wednesday’s disappointment, and with all our best players either injured, sick or knackered, looked there for the taking if we are honest. The team was announced and everyone’s head went because it looked a lot like all of our best players were either injured sick or knackered but I was made up with the pragmatism of it.

I don’t see any issues in us trying to buy time in a game, to tire the other side out until you can get your better players onto the pitch once everyone else has got an hour in their legs. Nil-nil on 60 is a good result, there. We were on course for it until that dreadful refereeing decision and some equally appalling defending from Nathaniel Clyne and Ragnar Klavan. Aside from that, while not playing well, we weren’t exactly getting battered.

We need, as a team, to learn how to stay in games. When we can’t play at our brilliant best we need to learn how to stay in games. This was a good start. For one, Big Si Mignolet, figured a way to keep us in this game, and it’s a good job really. Imagine getting beat 2-0 with a Tory wool scoring the first and Charlie Adam, suitably sluggish from his half-time plate of fried eggs, bumbling the second home, before having to take an egg-related breather.

A lot of our defeats this year have come from us not managing difficult periods in games. One-nil very quickly becomes two and then we are done. This was brilliant because 1-0 became ‘what a save’, which became momentum, which became 1-1 and then became tops off in the sun. Staying in games, Redmen, find a way.

It felt like a massive result, not just for this season but for future successes. Hopefully Big Si likes the feeling of getting clapped into changing rooms and figures out a way to have it happen to him more than once. Hopefully, Liverpool’s players like the feeling of grinding teams down into submission and having boss players on the bench to come on and make a difference. Hopefully, the Reds go out and buy a massive big load of pragmatism in the summer and work out how to win these games every time. Couple that with our Plan A of being absolutely boss most of the time and that sounds like a pretty good idea.

Stoke next year doesn’t seem quite as harrowing a place to go now. In fact, I might see if Ryanair will book me a special from John Lennon. Geographical wools welcome, state-of-mind wools absolutely barred. Free lasagne for everyone.

Up the pragmatic knife-and-fork using Reds.

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