Reds boss says crowd can be the club’s 12th man against the Russian title holders.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has called on the Anfield crowd to play its part on Thursday night as the Merseysiders look to overturn a two-goal deficit in the second leg of their Europa League round-of-32 clash with Zenit St Petersburg.
Rodgers was a member of the Chelsea coaching setup back in 2005 when Luis Garcia’s now famous ‘ghost goal’ sent the Reds through to the European Cup final at the expense of the West Londoners, and he wants a similar atmosphere at the ground against the Russian champions.
“I was here for the first one, for the ‘ghost goal’. For me, it wasn’t a goal,” Rodgers said in his pre-match press conference.
“That was the sheer force of the crowd that got the goal. Jose (Mourinho) spoke at that time of how he didn’t think it was over the line but the bottom line is that the referee gave it. It was under massive influence, there is no doubt about that. The atmosphere was as good as you will ever get.”
“This was never going to be a bolt of lightning season,” said Rodgers. “Some people can come in to a real mature, strong group of players and take it forward very quickly. Whatever people look at, that was never going to happen here because of the depth of the group. It got to two cup finals last season but it was broken up. Players left. I moved some on. Last year the Carling Cup was a clear priority for Liverpool.
“For me, it couldn’t have been. I didn’t have the depth of squad for that. As much as I wanted it to be, I never felt it was going to be that sort of season, unless we could get the reinforcements. This has been a great learning curve and we need to keep building now.”
“The legend of this club has been based on nights like this, big games and big comebacks,” he said. “We need the patience. We don’t need to score early, we just need to score first even if that comes after 40, 55 or 70 minutes, I still think we have the power of the crowd and the players to get the result as long as we stay super compact.”