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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Is Fowler's future under threat?
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier has criticised the form of Robbie Fowler.
How will Fowler's continued absence from the Red's starting line-up affect his England future?
Houllier believes that Fowler is neither fit nor sharp enough to deserve an automatic starting place in Liverpool's front line.
It seems that he will again be relegated to the bench for Wednesday's Champions League clash against Dynamo Kiev at Anfield.
With England's World Cup qualifier with Greece looming, Fowler is running out of time to prove himself worthy of a place in Sven Goran Eriksson's line-up.
The England boss was in Glasgow watching Celtic's Chris Sutton in action on Tuesday, as competition for a starting place intensifies.
As Fowler's Liverpool career comes under the spotlight once again, is his England career under threat?
Or can he play regularly for England while sitting on the bench at Anfield?
I have to say that Fowler has not been looking sharp of late. He simply has to put more effort in. If he wants a regular team place, he has got to fight for it.
I can't believe the criticism Houllier has come in for. Talk about players resting on past glories, some of these fans are. We have done nothing for 10 years and Houllier is restoring the clubc reputation by winning silverware and some idiots are saying Houllier should go before Fowler! I for one crave more success for Liverpool Football Club. Houllier everytime.
There appears to me to be a personality clash between Robbie and Houllier and maybe Thompson and Robbie also. Robbie is not bigger than the club and should fight for his place like the rest.
Houllier's assessment on Robbie while he's given such little chance to play doesn't seem reasonable. Houllier must support instead of criticise him.
Fowler would walk into most Premiership teams but he just doesnt seem to gel with Owen or Heskey. Time to move on, Robbie.
Robbie's natural ability and movement is second to none. Gerard Houllier has a habit of shunning players, and he also makes it as public as possible so they feel like they have no option but to go. Remember Westerweld and Ince?
Richard Buck, England
It seems like there are many who condemn Houllier for his criticism against Fowler's fitness. Some even suggest that Houllier shouldn't blow up this small issue. From what I have seen it was some Fowler's fans and some media who has blown it up out of proportion.
Houllier has already given numerous chances to Fowler to prove himself. Each time, Fowler played so unconvincingly and without much improvement. No doubt he is a natural scorer but that is in the past. Amazingly, Fowler's fans are so selfish that they would rather sacrifice Houllier who has brought the glory days back to Anfield.
Gerard Houllier must realise that a large part of a striker's ability to score comes from confidence and it is up to the coach to instill that confidence. Compare Robbie's drop in form to that of Andy Cole last season. Ferguson always had the highest praise for Cole and defended him from criticism and gave him time to turn his form around. Houllier take note.
Fowler is the greatest natural finisher of the game right now. Even our manager is aware of this. Unfortunately, he does not like him and is determined to prove to the whole world that Fowler is finished by not giving him a chance to play so that he may pick up his form and start scoring goals. My personal plea to Fowler is that he should not even contemplate leaving the Reds because Houllier's days are now numbered.
Nkululeko Malaba, South Africa
Robbie has shown great loyalty to his club but he is not being given any support in return. Sadly, Robbie should accept that the time has come to move on and find a new club that will give him the oppurtunity to realise his potential. It's criminal that such a young player with potential for greatness is sitting it out on the bench game after game. The length of a player's career is not that long and he should think of himself because his club definitely aren't.
As a Liverpool fan, I must say that I've been disappointed with Robbie. The excuse of match fitness is beginning to be lame. If he is using that excuse, then how can he explain Jari's form? Jari has been out far longer then Robbie but he still managed to get goals in each game he started so far. Robbie needs to think about his priorities and start fighting for a place in the starting line-up rather than use his reputation. Owen never gave up when he was injured and I think Robbie should have the same attitude to get back on top. With his fighting spirit, no wonder Gerrard Houllier likes Owen so much.
Misplaced loyalty is a phrase that springs to mind with Robbie Fowler. He must realise by now that he has no future at Liverpool, and it is time to move on. He has always been fiercely loyal to the club, but that has got to change. Wake up Robbie, and request a transfer to a club that will play you week in, week out!
Robbie needs to knuckle down, keep his head, and perform when selected for Liverpool. Scoring as a substitute for England one minute, then a poor performance for Liverpool the next, does him no favours. If he is not careful, he will become another Stan Collymore.
Adam Alexander, UK
I believe it's time for Robbie to leave Liverpool; you can't play for your country if you can't get domestic games and get match fitness.
This debate would never have taken place in public under Shankley or Paisley. It's down to the manager to keep his players motivated. If Robbie Fowler cannot be motivated to play at his highest level for a club like Liverpool and the money he is getting, then Liverpool FC have some serious internal problems. If Fowler cannot be motivated then he has to be sold without any fuss or public debate.
It really is a pity that such immense talent is being wasted, both by club and country. Yet it also has to be recalled that Fowler's woes are largely self-inflicted. Arsenal made it clear, last season, that they wanted his services and yet he repeatedly turned them down and chose to stay at Anfield. Liverpool are now gunning for Hakan Sukur and nobody needs to be told who he's going to replace. At Highbury, Fowler would have been guaranteed not just first team football but regular appearances in the Champions League. At Liverpool, he can't even make the first team in a Premiership encounter. Good comeuppance!
Frankly I'm amazed that Fowler has stayed at Liverpool for so long. Despite proving time and time again that he can score despite lack of match practice, Houllier (a man who's judgement seems otherwise faultless) appears to have a blind spot with Robbie. I'd be happy to see him start for England, just as I'd be happy to see him turn out for Arsenal if he ever fancies a move down south.
Gerard Houllier is only speaking the truth. Fowler is short of match practice and in poor form. What he needs is a good run of matches under his belt with a few goals thrown in - let's hope that the lad realises which side his bread is buttered and stays at Anfield to fight for his place.
Having supported Liverpool since 1987 when was six years old, I have seen some of the great Liverpool strikers. Daglish, Rush, Aldridge and now Owen - all world class players. However Robbie Fowler has arguably the best natural ability of the all. Only his attitude can prevent him from becoming a legend for both Liverpool and England. If he knuckles down and applies himself over the coming weeks we could see him as a regular in the starting line-up. If not we'll probably see him in another club's colours.
Robbie should leave Liverpool to stand a chance of keeping his England place. How can Houllier say he's not playing well when he started for ages.
Fowler is our best forward bar none. Liverpool are now playing a long ball game to include Heskey and we are not the team we could be. How many players would conjure up a goal like his Albania goal, after so little match practice and low on confidence? Sort it Houllier! Eriksson rates Robbie and he's not doing bad is he?
It's a disgrace the way the Liverpool management have treated Robbie Fowler. As an ardent Liverpool fan I'm disgusted that we would consider taking Hakan Suker on loan rather than playing the talent we have. Fowler should start for England and show Houllier that he is the best England striker since Gary Lineker.
Robbie Fowler is a superb striker and needs to be given a run in the team, like Heskey has. Once this occurs I'm sure the goals will start flowing. Houllier needs to show some support towards Fowler and give him a chance he deserves! If he does, I know Robbie won't let him or the club down.
Correct me if I am wrong, but is it not the primary role of a football coach to ensure that all his players are fit, sharp and focused?
So what's gone wrong?
Why does Houllier persist in trying to portray himself as a 'tough man' manager? Attempting to appear as a temple of footballing wisdom, he is a mediocre at best. He is turning what was a small issue into his own PR fest, at the expense of his club and a wonderful footballer. If a professional sportsman has a confidence or morale issue, he can be as fit as he likes and it won't matter. Eriksson knows it, that's why he doesn't care what Houllier does with Fowler, he'll pick him anyway. He's class.
Robbie Fowler is playing like a drain right now. I don't believe Houllier wants to sell him, but I do believe that Fowler has to pull his weight on the pitch and he currently is not doing that. Finally, I believe Houllier is more important in the long term to the success of Liverpool football club than Fowler, and I'm prepared to trust his judgement on this issue. Having said all that, nobody would be happier than me to see Robbie scoring regularly in the Liverpool first team again.
This whole saga will pretty much be forgotten when Fowler starts netting in the goals. So what if he doesn't play in the Greece game...he should aim to be in the World Cup squad!
Fowler is a great finisher, but I do also feel that he can be incredibly lazy at times. You see the difference between Robbie on the one hand, and Michael Owen and Emile Heskey on the other. The former rarely chases back in a game, whereas the latter two are continually chasing back when not in possession. However, we must also understand that, at this time, his morale is low. Liverpool really don't seem to want him at all.
Houllier's squad rotation system leaves a lot to be desired. It is going to cost Liverpool FC one of England's most natural goalscorers. Fowler was in need of discipline before but I believe that, given a decent chance, Robbie Fowler can prove what an asset he really is to LFC.
We have to accept Gerard Houllier's assessment of Robbie Fowler's fitness. But I cannot understand why he is not fit. He was in promising form at the end of last season and, so far as we know, underwent the same pre-season training as the rest of the (very fit) Liverpool squad. So what is going on?
Sadly though, if his form isn't good enough for Liverpool, even without Owen, it cannot be good enough for England.
Fowler is the best finisher in the game. All he needs is support from Houllier to help him get back to his best, but I can't see that happening. It'll be a great loss to Liverpool when Fowler eventually leaves, as it's only a matter of time before he does. Like they say, it's only after someone goes that you realise how much they meant to you - remember that Houllier!
Danny, you are absolutely right. Houllier has done a fantastic job for us but he is driving Robbie out. He's not given Robbie a consecutive run in the team, then he claims he's not fit or sharp enough. Robbie is a confidence player and Houllier is not helping by always criticising him. Where's the support for Robbie that Emile always receives?
Houllier has made it abundantly clear that Fowler does not feature in his plans, but he is also aware that he cannot sell the Kop's favourite. His approach is to humiliate the player until he sees no alternative but to leave himself. It is such a shame as Fowler, widely recognised as the best finisher in the game, is still being ousted by a lesser player in Heskey.
I think its about time Robbie left. He needs about six consecutive games and he'll start scoring - it worked with Owen. Every natural goalscorer needs games.
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