Fowler’s British lions add bite to Roar
LIVERPOOL legend Robbie Fowler's Brisbane Roar revolution is underway. Fowler's methods have already come under scrutiny, but he's adamant he's going about his long-term goal of bringing the A-League title back to Queensland the "right way".
Your recruitment of several players from the United Kingdom has seen Brisbane Roar dubbed "Britain Roar" by some critics. Why have you gone down that path?
We've got these players in because they're all good players. I always thought to myself if I ever got a job over here I'd go down a route of getting players from the same area. They can galvanise with each other a bit quicker, and get into the culture a bit quicker. Regardless of what people think about the football over here, the culture is maybe similar to the UK, the standard of football, the players, the attitudes … so if you're getting the same type players with the same attitudes and same cultures coming over here, for me that's a good fit.
Is that the best way for the Roar to recapture their past glories?
It might not be to everyone's cup of tea, but for me it works. I think it's better for a club if you want to grow and get to that end result pretty quick. By getting the players in who I brought in, I think we can get there a bit quicker. I know what Brisbane's like, I know the history of the club, I know they've won the three championships playing wonderful football, and I also want to play wonderful football, but I want to do it the right way as well.
Your inexperience as a head coach/manager has been a talking point since your Brisbane Roar appointment. Does that annoy you?
This is a big bugbear of mine. Regardless of experience, it doesn't mean you're going to do a good job anyway. I'm here to learn. Sometimes it's better to learn on the job. I'm bringing into this a little bit of everything I've learned from managers. Just because I'm inexperienced doesn't mean I can't do that. I know football, I know how players work. I know how to deal with people and I know how players react. I'm here to do the right job.
What have been the benefits of having to wait so long for a genuine head coach opportunity?
Maybe the chance to be a manager came a little bit later than what I first envisaged, but if I was somewhere else I might never have had the opportunity to come here, so there's always positives in everything. This is a great place to play football, a great place to manage … it's a very good place to get me going.
What is your coaching style?
I've played under good managers, Managers who are technically very good, tactically very good … I want a bit of everything. I think the right way is getting players in and trying to simplify it as much as you can by doing video analysis after training, video analysis after games, players can see that you're doing it properly, and probably give you a little bit more. As a player I've witnessed all this, and when you've got coaches and managers who will give you a bit more time, that works wonders.
You didn't always see eye-to-eye with your coaches and managers during your career, notably Gerard Houllier at Liverpool. How does those experiences help in dealing with players now as their coach?
Because I'm a player and I love playing, it upset me when I wasn't playing. I would be upset with any of the players here if they're happy with not playing. You want players to be committed and to have that little bit more drive. You want to be mates with your players but within reason. They've got to know who the boss is, but you've still got to give people the time of day, you've still got to respect them. I want people to respect me, and I will give them everything I've got to try to make them better players.
Who is the best Australian player you've seen in your time in football?
I've played alongside a good few Australian. Harry Kewell was incredible but in terms of strike partners, I was a big fan of Mark Viduka. I had a good relationship with 'Dukes" on and off the pitch - he was incredible. Obviously Tim Cahill as well, but in terms of players I've played alongside, it's the likes of Harry and the big man Dukes.
If Liverpool could only win only one of the UEFA Champions League or the Premier League in the 2019-20 season, which would it be?
The Premier League because it's eluded them for so long. We've proven to people we can win the Champions League, we need to prove we can win the Premier League. Winning the Champions League last season was a massive bonus, but anyone within the club, any supporters, they would give anything to win the Premier League. There's the problem that Manchester City are just so good, and they'll probably be the same in the upcoming season. City and Liverpool will be fighting it out again.
Despite your stellar history with Liverpool, is it true you grew up supporting the Reds' Merseyside rivals Everton?
My mum's side of the family were all massive Everton fans, my dad's side were all Liverpool fans, but my dad was an Everton fan so he was maybe the black sheep of the family. I was brought up an Everton fan but I respected Liverpool. I probably had the best of both worlds. As much as I wanted Everton to do well, when Liverpool did well I wasn't upset. The way I looked at it was it was my city doing well. I was blessed in being brought up in a time when the football in Merseyside was unreal.
Will England win next year's European Championships?
Of course England can, they have the players, but maybe England's problems is their lack of depth in the squad. Whether it's club football or international football, there's no divine right to win anything. You've got to earn that right. If England can do that and maybe get a little bit of luck, because you need a bit of that, they've got a chance.
How do you reflect on your international career of 26 caps and seven goals for England?
I wanted to play more games, but it wasn't through the lack of trying. In major tournaments I was very unlucky with injuries. But I can't really complain too much, because the players who were playing were great players. I've got 26 England caps and no one can ever take them away from me.