Liverpool have several players they need to protect this Thursday in the face of inevitable racist abuse from Zenit St Petersburg fans.
Liverpool will head into their Europa League tie full of confidence at the way their young squad has been playing through recent weeks.
However, Zenit have some of the most racist supporters in the world who even tried to get a campaign going, which prevented black players from joining or playing for the Russian side.
Liverpool have several black, young players in their team that they need to protect from the abuse they will receive on Thursday. It’s a shame it’s inevitable but Brendan Rodgers is clever enough to know how to go about it.
Oussama Assaidi, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom are all players who could be on the end of offensive chants and verbal abuse.
Rodgers can protect these players in a very simple way through making sure there is key experience out on the pitch to help them.
Experience via the likes of Jamie Carragher is very important because the experienced players at the club can realise if the abuse is starting to get to the younger players.
If it’s that severe that it starts to upset these young players, the more experienced pros can relay that message to the bench and they can make a decision over it; whether to leave that player out on the field or bring him off.
It’s going to happen because that’s the way Zenit supporters have been and always will be. Not all Zenit fans are immensely racist but there will always be a core group that hold backward views.
How Liverpool react during and after the match is important. It will have to be horrifically offensive and intense for Liverpool players to start walking off the pitch but the club can put pressure on Uefa.
They are bound to put in a complaint which will be met with the token investigation before a pathetic fine is given to one of the wealthiest clubs in Russia.
Liverpool could do a lot worse than taking someone to the match, whose job it is to catalogue every incident of racist abuse throughout the 90 minutes. Therefore, they have evidence, timelines, information etc which they can give to Europe’s football governing body.
How do you think Liverpool should protect their players this Thursday?
image: © Sorren Lissner