Brendan Rodgers has said Liverpool's patience could be tested on and off the pitch against Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday evening as the overhaul he has instigated will not impact "like a bolt of lightning" at Anfield. Liverpool must overturn a 2-0 deficit against Russia's champions in the last-32 tie to preserve their final prospect of silverware this season with Rodgers adamant that the first goal will be decisive.
He will be without Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho due to ineligibility and the injured Fabio Borini for the second leg, however. The former Zenit defender Martin Skrtel is also expected to miss out with a knee problem.
The Liverpool manager has called on Anfield to recreate the frenzied atmosphere that swept Rafael Benítez's team into the Champions League final at the expense of Chelsea in 2005. Rodgers was present at Anfield that night as Chelsea's youth team manager and, while seeking a repeat of the noise that he believes prompted the referee to award Luis García's controversial early goal, he does not want a chaotic start against Zenit.
"The legend of this club has been based on nights like this, big games and big comebacks," said Rodgers. "I was here for the first Chelsea semi-final, for the 'ghost goal'. For me, it wasn't a goal. That was the sheer force of the crowd that got the goal. José 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. The crowd will be so important for us but equally we need patience. It is not a game where we need the first five or 10 minutes to be chaotic. We have to be aggressive in attack and to have intensity in our pressing. The first goal is important. 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."
Rodgers has "quiet confidence" about a recovery thanks to the amount of chances Liverpool created in St Petersburg last week and the Liverpool manager says the outcome of the tie will not alter the size of his long-term task at Anfield.
"This was never going to be a bolt-of-lightning season," he said. "Some people can come into a really mature, strong group of players and take it forward very quickly. Whatever people look at, that was never going to happen here with the size and depth of the group.
"The squad 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. 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 the group."
The Liverpool manager confirmed Jamie Carragher will make his 150th European appearance for the club against Zenit. Despite describing Carragher as his "best defender" following the first leg in Russia, Rodgers says he was correct to give Skrtel and Daniel Agger time to develop their central defensive partnership during the first half of the campaign.
Rodgers explained: "Initially we lacked goals, defensively we were alright. Obviously we are trying to look to the future in terms of giving the two central defenders an opportunity to form a partnership. It is one of the few positions that I don't want to change, if I can. Your two central defenders are your pillars.
"I just got to the stage where I felt that – and this had nothing to do with how Martin Skrtel was playing – we needed to be more vocal. The team was quiet and lacked organisation and leadership on the field. My gut feeling was to put Carra back in.
"His performance level since then has been remarkable, really. Why did I not do it earlier? Sometimes it takes time for you to see it. That is the simple explanation."
Liverpool (probable 4-3-3) Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Henderson; Shelvey, Suárez, Downing.
Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-2-1); Malafeev; Anyukov, Lombaerts, Hubocan, Criscito; Witsel, Denisov, Shirokov; Hulk, Danny; Kerzhakov.
Referee: B Kuipers (Netherlands)