SYDNEY (Reuters) – Robbie Fowler believes his decision to move to Australia was a gamble that paid off and that his Brisbane Roar side would have been contenders for a third A-League title had the coronavirus outbreak not intervened.
The former England and Liverpool striker only had the experience of the 2011-12 season as player-coach at Thai club Muangthong United on his CV when he took over at the Roar at the start of the season.
The 45-year-old led the club, which had finished second last in the league the previous season, to fourth place when matches were suspended in March with six rounds of the regular season and the playoffs remaining.
“I took over a team that was struggling, for a couple of years they’ve struggled really bad, last year they conceded 71 goals,” he told Optus Sport from lockdown in England.
“(I knew this) was a massive gamble for me. I knew I wanted to do it. I knew I wanted to be a coach. I think me going to the other side of the world showed how dedicated I am, how passionate I am, how much I wanted it.
“It was a huge gamble because it could have gone either way but thankfully I took to it. To me it was a gamble that has definitely paid off.”
Until COVID-19 “put a little bit of a kibosh on it”, Fowler felt the Roar were well placed to challenge for another A-League title to those they won in 2010-11 and 2013-14.
“Since the turn of the year, the team over there have been absolute class, I couldn’t have asked any more of them,” he added.
“We accumulated more points than anyone else and were probably the form team going into the playoffs. I honestly believed that we had as good a chance as anyone in those playoffs to win the grand final.”
With Football Federation Australia (FFA) hoping to resume the season in late July or August, Fowler could still land the title and so further his ambition that his coaching career might one day match the heights of his years as a player.
“I would never disrespect Brisbane Roar by saying I’m using this as a stepping stone straight away,” he said.
“(But) I am ambitious … I want to try to manage at the very top level.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Richard Pullin)
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