Massively behind in preparation but 100 percent sure we will get it right: Fowler
Robbie Fowler speaks of life in a bubble, his time at Brisbane Roar and of the days that made him a Liverpool hero.Updated: Oct 29, 2020, 10:08 IST
Robbie Fowler says his job is to get SC East Bengal supporters excited. “We know how important football is for people who support our club,” says the new coach in this exclusive interview. Still in quarantine in Goa ahead of ISL7, Fowler also speaks of life in a bubble, his time at Brisbane Roar and of the days that made him a Liverpool hero.
Before your Liverpool debut, Graeme Souness praised your sixth sense. What does the sixth sense tell you about this assignment where you could spend six months in a bio-bubble?
I don’t really know. Regardless of what I was as a player, I think it doesn’t really matter. My job now is to try and simplify things. We know how tough it is for everyone in this situation. Being a professional, we know that if you want to play football and you want people to enjoy football, you have to adapt to certain situations. That’s just what we are doing. As much as we love what we are doing, we have got to make certain sacrifices and that will be all throughout my career. This is just a bigger sacrifice. When you want something, when you love something, sacrifices for me are pretty easy.
SC East Bengal are the only ISL club with a set-piece coach. Could you talk us through Terence McPhillips’ role?
He has coached at a high level. He came through the Blackburn (Rovers FC) academy… went on to be assistant-manager at Blackburn and manager at Blackpool. No one bats an eyelid when there is a goalkeepers’ coach. Why can’t you have coaches all over the pitch? Why can’t you have a free-kick coach? Liverpool last season had a specific throw-in coach (Thomas Gronnemark). If we get, maybe, a little bit of advantage in terms of how we approach set-pieces, throw-ins, corners, we are certainly going to use that.
Given that most Indian players haven’t had any football for seven months, how long a pre-season would you have wanted?
Goes without saying that we obviously wanted more (time). When we got this opportunity, we knew that we were massively behind in terms of preparation, in terms of getting players, getting everything right. We have still got a lot of players in isolation now so our pre-season is effectively three weeks. It’s not ideal but it is what it is. We will get it right. I am 100% sure of that.
Many fans described your brand of football at Brisbane Roar as “Brexit Ball”...
That might have been just an anti-English thing. We were taking a team that had struggled massively the year before and were trying to make them competitive. I have no doubt we did that. The team the year before shipped in 70+ goals, finished second bottom. Then we went in there, got the team defensively rock solid, we were compact, we were a good team in terms of possession. We obviously wanted to keep possession but we wanted to win games. There were lots of people who didn’t want us to succeed and could not accept that we did.
Talk us through your time at Liverpool and your most memorable moment there
When I started, I did score a lot of goals (116 in his first 188 games at Liverpool). I wanted to work hard and try and emulate great players from Liverpool’s past. I didn’t really notice at the time but I had a serious injury and that may have affected my career later on. As much as I did play for years afterwards, I probably wasn’t the same player. But I still scored goals and I think my goals per game (ratio) was very good.
I think my most memorable moment at Liverpool would probably be re-signing for the club (in 2006). It was something I had dreamt about. It made me appreciate the club a little bit more… because I had seen other places, other clubs.
As a Liverpool ambassador, you have got to know Juergen Klopp well. What is it about Klopp you would want to incorporate as a coach?
Every manager I have played under have had different traits, different ideas, tactics. And you try and take a little bit of everything. What I love about Juergen is he ticks every box. I have played for lot of managers who don’t necessarily do that… With Juergen, his players are technically, tactically very good, you see how much they enjoying playing for him.
He is absolute first-class. The way people see him on the television talking about football, he is exactly the same person off camera. With him, what you see is what you get.