Twitter spats and Brexit Ball: Robbie Fowler’s strange year at Brisbane Roar


Fast reads

While Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have seen a promising transition to management, Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler has not been quite as successful.

Fowler is one of the most revered players in Anfield's history. He scored 183 goals in 369 games in his two games with the Reds, but his resume as a manager is exceptional for completely different reasons.

His first job as player manager of the Thai team Muangthong United in 2011 was strange enough, but eight years later, when he was repeatedly overlooked when vacancies in the Football League showed up, it got really interesting when Fowler signed a two-year contract as chief signed Brisbane Roar's coach in the Australian A-League where he had previously played.

Fowler inherited a roar page that staggered from one of the worst campaigns in its history. In 2018-19, they won just four of their 27 league games and finished second from below.

So you might think that with the fourth roar (out of 11) when the season was stopped, under Fowler they would be excited about the future.

But the two split up without playing the last four games in the campaign. Fowler claimed that the club had refused to sort its travel arrangements for returning to Australia, and the club released a statement indicating that it was Fowler's decision. "We fully understand this. This family comes first," said Vice Chairman Chris Fong.

It ended up being rocky for 12 months.

Britannia rule

With ex-Everton midfielder Tony Grant as an assistant, Fowler immediately monitored a major overhaul of the squad. Fourteen players dropped out and as a replacement for them, with little knowledge of A-League players, it was no surprise to absolutely no one that they looked at what they knew best: English football.

They raided England's lower leagues to attract players from Carlisle United, Salford City, Bury, Rochdale and Shrewsbury, and suddenly the Roar had a distinctly British feel. Maybe that was Fowler's first mistake.

He also changed the club's walk-in music and changed the club's benches to help his coaches influence the assistant referee, a classic tactic from England, but Fowler was soon scrutinized without victories in his first four games.

Given Fowler's incredible goal record, it may have been surprising that his team were accused of playing grumpy football and battling for goals when they reached the A-League's common closing point in 2019.

Meanwhile, Fowler publicly criticized the league for its salary caps, game planning, and referee services.

Then, in December 2019, he made headlines when he refused to shake hands with the manager of Western United full-time, another classic from England.

"Foreign managers are not exactly accepted by the powers that be out there," said Fowler The athlete in April 2020.

“They want Australian coaches to lead the team. It is really ridiculous because they are more than happy to go overseas and train there.

"We were there and ripped a few noses out of our joints, but that made us even more determined to be successful."

Brexit ball

Sure enough, Fowler started turning things around at the turn of the year, collecting the A-League Manager of the Month awards in a row in January and February.

When the season was interrupted, he had put the Roar in fourth place after losing two of his last 12 games.

Despite their upswing in shape, people criticized Fowler's defensive tactics and style of play, which were dubbed "Brexit Ball ’from some parts of the Roar fan base.

"Whether it's because there's an English manager here – everyone's talking about this" Brexit Ball "or this" Brexit Football ", which is ridiculous," said Fowler.

"People say we park the bus – you look at some stats before the game and we have more entries in the last third than any other team. If you are a team that parks the bus, you will not get these statistics. "

Fowler even had an angry confrontation with a fan on social media after criticizing the team. It hasn't done much good for his reputation.

Whether you believe Fowler or the club's side, the nail in the coffin of the relationship was probably hammered in during the break when the 45-year-old suggested he was not a "priority" for the Roar because he is not an Australian.

"Since I am a foreigner as such, it just seems that I am not a priority," he said. "As a manager stuck in the UK, I still resigned, so it's a little nightmare. But we have to wait and see how it develops."

It turned out exactly as we all knew.


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