Robbie Fowler after being appointed Brisbane Roar’s new coach. Picture: AAP
Robbie Fowler after being appointed Brisbane Roar’s new coach. Picture: AAP

Babbel: Fowler brings something special

To this day, Markus Babbel has trouble understanding Robbie Fowler's Scouse accent.

That's his only downfall, though, and the Western Sydney boss has backed his former Liverpool teammate to succeed in his first head coaching post at Brisbane Roar.

"I'm very glad for him," Babbel told The Daily Telegraph.

"Top lad, great player. To be fair I don't know much about him as a coach, but with his experience and as a person he brings something special to the league.

"The league needs guys who bring a big reputation. He's a face, he will be a face of Brisbane Roar.

"I only can say positive things about him."

Fowler's two-year deal with the Roar has been met with both praise and incredulity.

 

The back page of London’s Daily Mirror after Liverpool won the UEFA Cup in 2001. Robbie Fowler (left) and Sami Hyypia lift the trophy. Markus Babbel is at right.
The back page of London’s Daily Mirror after Liverpool won the UEFA Cup in 2001. Robbie Fowler (left) and Sami Hyypia lift the trophy. Markus Babbel is at right.

Supporters speak of the English Premier League legend's extensive football nous as a former player, Uefa Pro Licence-holder and Liverpool academy coach.

Sceptics cite the 44-year-old's lack of senior coaching credentials coupled with the A-League's fondness for international celebrity over local experience.

"This is definitely where you can have a discussion," Babbel said.

"But I can't believe Robbie has nothing to say to the boys, that would be a big surprise because he has so much experience as a player.

 

Robbie Fowler celebrates scoring another goal for Liverpool. Picture: PA
Robbie Fowler celebrates scoring another goal for Liverpool. Picture: PA

"There's also a discussion in Germany that just because you are a good player doesn't mean you are a good coach, but it definitely helps.

"I'm not saying that's the only reason, but he knows what's going on in the changing room, he knows what's going on on the pitch because he had 300-400 games in the Premier League.

"Robbie is a smart guy and he'll bring good people around him so if there's a weakness someone else can fill the gap.

"This is why you have a coaching team. So for me it's not a big problem."

Babbel and Fowler go back to 2000-01, when the former joined Liverpool from Bayern Munich.

Fowler was then at the back end of his first and longest spell with the Reds, often on the fringes of Gerard Houllier's preferred strike partnership of Emile Heskey and Michael Owen.

Nevertheless both he and Babbel, the German defender and club cult figure, were integral members of that FA, League and UEFA Cups-winning side also featuring Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Babbel's close friend Didi Hamann.

"I had the luck to play together with him," Babbel said.

"It wasn't easy for him because the coach changed a lot so he was not playing as many games as before, but he was always professional.

"For me he was a great help to settle down quickly and feel welcome quickly.

"The only problem I had with him was he had a really bad accent. He's a Scouser, oh my God. Especially to begin with it was very difficult to understand what he is saying.

"Once, he was talking to (Jamie) Carragher - Carragher is exactly the same - and I was sitting there listening and couldn't understand a word.

"Gary McAllister said 'Markus, do you understand a word?' I said no. He said, 'don't worry, me neither'. And he's Scottish."

Babbel last saw Fowler in 2014 when the pair played against each other in a Hillsborough 25th anniversary charity match at Anfield between a team of LFC Local Legends and a Liverpool International XI.

 

Robbie Fowler playing for North Queensland Fury in 2010.
Robbie Fowler playing for North Queensland Fury in 2010.

 

They shared old stories, neither with the slightest clue that five years later they'd meet again at the helm of A-League rivals, in a whole new meaning to Merseyside derby.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing him," Babbel said.

"He is a lovely person, top guy and one of the best players from the Premier League.

"I hope he brings this mentality to this league, because this is what the league needs.

"Especially the young ones have to learn what it means to work hard every day and come to your dreams. Robbie is a good example."

News Corp Australia


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