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Sunday, 12 August, 2001, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Is Fowler's Anfield future bleak?
Does Robbie Fowler have a future at Liverpool?
Robbie Fowler's name was absent from the Liverpool team-sheet for the Charity Shield match against Man Utd.

Does he have a future at Anfield? Or should Liverpool sell their vice-captain?


Robbie Fowler was once again forced into a spectator's role at the Millennium Stadium as Liverpool won the Charity Shield.

Fowler was also dropped from the FA Cup Final, and Liverpool's midweek Champions League victory over FC Haka.

With Jari Litmanen fit again, and Michael Owen and Emile Heskey enjoying first team success, Fowler faces a fight for a starting place.

Does the 15m-rated striker have a future with his home town club?

Or is he heading for the Anfield exit door?


Unless people go to Anfield regularly and watch our players first-hand over 90 minutes, they should just hush-up. How anyone in New Zealand or Singapore watching edited highlights in another timezone feels qualified to comment is beyond me. Any red who actually attends games will tell you just how clever and how valuable Fowler is.

I have the greatest of respect and personal fondness for Gerard but on this issue he should elevate fowler above Heskey. Good as Heskey is, he goes missing for too long in games. Highlights don't show Robbie's fantastic movement and awareness of how a move can start and finish. Much as we love you Gerard, we've been here longer than you and know Robbie better than you. Trust us and play him more!
Jase, England

At the moment Liverpool play a brand of football which is not best suited to Robbie. When Liverpool were playing a more structured passing game under Roy Evans, Robbie could sniff around the box picking up scraps and being the great predator that he is.The new style of counter atacking under Houllier relies on players having great pace. When Liverpool get more creativity in the centre of midfield then Robbie will get more of a look in as of the four very talented strikers we possess, he is undoubtedly the greatest finisher.
Pedro Diniz, Ireland

If he can't settle for a place on the bench then perhaps he should move on for the sake of both his and the team's morale
Lee Morton, UK
Fowler is class and will be back. He's far better than Heskey but Liverpool need them both, in addition to Owen and Litmanen. Come on Robbie, show your class.
Andy Bown, UAE

Most of the time Fowler is better than Heskey. Most Liverpool fans agree with that. Maybe Houllier uses Heskey more because he bought Heskey for 11m and he needs to show people the result of his spending?
Mila, UK

I have yet to see that Robbie has recovered from the years of injury. Yes he was the best striker at Liverpool, but he needs to recapture that form before he can sulk that he's not in the team. Heskey proved his worth last season and was second top scorer behind Owen, so where does that leave Robbie? If he can't settle for a place on the bench then perhaps he should move on for the sake of both his and the team's morale.
Lee Morton, UK

Houillier was right for the Man Utd game to leave Fowler on the bench. He clearly thought the game would be played on the break and for that you need pace which both Owen and Heskey have. We do not know the exact nature of Fowler's reaction so it is difficult to say whether Houillier should have punished him further by dropping him altogether.

Robbie Fowler is the best striker England has had since Gary Lineker
David Winson, England

That said, Fowler is easily the best striker in Britain and has the best goals per game ratio of any Liverpool striker of the last thirty years with the exception of John Alridge. I can't understand why Houillier doesn't play him in those games which would suit him when he seems to play Heskey regardless. Hang in there Robbie and keep fighting.
Simon, France

Comparing the usefulness of Fowler and the manager is, to say the least, going a little bit too far. Fowler was at Liverpool long before Houllier, and as we all know the club was then in the doldrums. Similarly, comparing him with Heskey is unfair because these are two different strikers. Heskey can win balls for other strikers as well as score, unlike Fowler. Fowler should know that discipline is needed in football just like in any employment. Even Beckham is left on the bench if he misbehaves at Man United!
Patrice, Zimbabwe

Why is it that every time a player is dropped from a team his future becomes uncertain at the respective club? Maybe Houllier is resting him for the England match or the first few games of the season. Why should he start every game? He is a good player, but Liverpool's whole squad is full of good players who all deserve the same opportunities as Robbie.
Emma, England

Is there any future in making Heskey an attacking midfielder?
Gary, UK

Once again a small argument between a player and the coaching staff - which must happen every week at clubs all over Europe - has once again been blown all out of proportion because it's one of the top players and top clubs. In a few weeks this will all be forgotten as Liverpool potentially have so many games this season that Robbie will play in many of them. I wish the tabloid press could find some less boring football news.
Steve, UK

The only way Robbie will be guaranteed a regular first team place will be away from Anfield. A free move to Maine Road would be the only sensible alternative to his problems!
Graham, England

Is there any future in making Heskey an attacking midfielder? He seems to excel at taking the long ball and flicking it on, so why not do a Ray Kennedy on him? This would allow Fowler his attacking place back.
Gary, UK

I feel that Robbie Fowler is the best striker England has had since Gary Lineker. He can score goals from almost anywhere on the field. He must be the most frustrated footballer ever to have played the game - how can the likes of Emile Heskey and Andy Cole (for England) be chosen in front of him? It's so obvious that these two have almost no awareness - neither would be a success abroad, though Fowler most certainly would. I would tip him for a move to Villa, though I would love to see him play for the Rams!
David Winson, England

It is foolish for Liverpool fans to think that Fowler is more important than Gerard Houllier
Kenneth, Singapore

He clearly does not fit into Houllier's initial plans. It's bad for the club if all we see is a Houlier v Fowler battle. I would sell him for the sake of team spirit.
Pete Erwin, USA

Robbie Fowler has been arguably the best left-footed striker in the Premiership for a long time. Coupled with the fact that he is idolised by the Red half of Liverpool, Gerard Houllier will be taking a huge risk in selling him on. Could we see Robbie doing a Sol Campbell and playing for the Blue half of the city in the near future? It would certainly add spice to dull Merseyside derbies wouldn't it?
Andy W, Northbrook, UK

It is foolish for Liverpool fans to think that Fowler is more important than Gerard Houllier in LFC. No doubt Fowler has been and is still one of the best natural strikers in Liverpool and England. However, the fans should understand and realise that Fowler is not the whole team but Gerard Houllier does managed the team instead. Thus, it is important that true Liverpool fans should support Houllier's decision. After all, he has brought Liverpool to the level that won three cups last season and a place in the Champions League. It is the manager to decide who to play and not the player. The player only need to perform well on the field and co-ordinate with his team-mates.
Kenneth, Singapore

Am I the only one in the country that thinks that Litmanen and Fowler is a far better combination that Heskey and Owen?
Neil Apter, UK

If Houllier is operating a squad rotation system then how come Robbie has to sit out two very big games while Heskey starts to look tired after 70 mins? What's the point of making him club vice-captain if he doesn't even play? Owen is getting better with every match while Robbie doesn't get on the pitch and for a player of Robbie's quality that is not good enough.
Toby Josham, England

Robbie isn't bigger than Liverpool, but he is a damn good player. He is as good as if not better than Michael Owen. How do you think Michael Owen would react if Gerard Houllier treated him the same way as he has done with Robbie Fowler? I suspect Michael Owen wouldn't put up with it either.
Nish, UK

Houllier has got it badly wrong. Robbie is capable of far more than he is allowed to deliver. He insists on playing Heskey in a holding role, which is a big joke. Pundits and fans alike agree that Robbie will bring more goals than Heskey if he is allowed to keep sharp through regular games. It would appear that Mr Houllier does not like Robbie and would seek to drive away him away rather than face the fans with his intentions. Let's not make Robbie the bad guy - he is still the best in the country, bar none!
Mark C, England

Am I the only one in the country that thinks that Litmanen and Fowler is a far better combination that Heskey and Owen? The preferred pairing lit up Anfield on a couple of occasions last year and yet have hardly been given time together on the pitch since. I don't particularly wish to question the wisdom of a manager who brought us three trophies last year. But I fear the feud with Fowler, who is the most naturally talented goal scorer since Rushie, has been allowed to become personal. That is to the detriment of both Liverpool and England. Even I, as a die-hard Reds fan, know Heskey can't shoot straight, albeit straighter than a certain Mr Cole. Fowler must be allowed his place in the side alongside the Heskey the Hulk, Owen the Speed King and the Finnish(er).
Neil Apter, UK

If you're reading this Houllier, give Robbie a chance - a good run in the first team.
Gary, UK

Why is this subject bought up consistently? Of course Robbie is going to be annoyed he was dropped - if he wasn't I would be worried. But with his previous injury problems and the amount of games we have coming up he will get his chance to show how good he really is. The media should leave him alone. He will hopefully always be in the Red of Liverpool.
Macca, England

Fowler should be starting games on current form. It is Heskey who needs to be dropped as he is just wandering around not doing much. I would suggest that Houllier rotates out Heskey a bit more often as it is Heskey who has become lazy. Robbie doesn't need any more lessons, just a regular place.
Mike, Wales

The problem with Fowler is that he's not getting a regular place in the side, which is affecting his game. And the reason he's not playing well is because he isn't playing regularly. It's just a vicious circle. If you're reading this Houllier, give Robbie a chance - a good run in the first team.
Gary, UK

Houllier should be more disappointed if it was that Fowler did not react badly to being left out. It shows his eagerness to play but at the same time, he must show respect to the manager and his fellow team-mates.
Shoaib, America

If Fowler goes then I'm afraid Houllier may as well follow
Padraig, UK

Houllier had a tactical ploy and Robbie Fowler will start for England on Wednesday after discussions with Eriksson. It would be a total disaster if Liverpool lost Robbie as we need four great strikers.
Bhaarat, UK

If Fowler goes then I'm afraid Houllier may as well follow.
Padraig, UK

Fowler was a gem - the keyword being "was". Whilst he may be the most cultured, naturally gifted striker in the Premiership, he is one lazy player. I am of the view that Fowler - on current commitment is sitting right where he ought to be: the bench.
T, Singapore

For England's sake, Fowler should move. Whether there is anyone on the continent willing to part with 15m for him is debatable, but if a continental club should come in for him, he should go. He needs regular first-team football, and could easily adapt to a foreign league, increasing the experience of the whole England set-up as a result.
Bob, UK

I don't know what Houllier is playing at and I certainly don't like it
Hanif Debar, UK

I suspect that Gary from England above is a wind-up merchant. Not a single genuine Liverpool fan would prefer Houllier to leave instead of Fowler. Liverpool fans are split down the middle over the Fowler issue and whether he should stay or not, but we all agree totally that Houllier is doing a fantastic job at the club and we support him 100%.
Walton Red, Liverpool

Robbie is a world-class finisher who would credit many teams' forward line-ups. He must be concerned about the lack of first-team opportunity at Liverpool at present. It would be a great loss for Liverpool to see him go elsewhere - now is a real test of Gerard Houllier's Management skills in finding a way to keep him satisfied, or risk Liverpool losing the best natural finisher in Britain.
Ken Barnetson, UK

Houllier's achievements mean that although Liverpool supporters wouldn't like Fowler leaving, they would trust the manager's judgement. But more importantly, Liverpool supporters know better than to believe the media hype which magnifies any controversy out of all recognition. If the media started talking about somebody else, there wouldn't be a problem.
Paul F, Liverpool

I do not know if Fowler will leave or stay, but I do know that if he is forced to leave the club, then Houllier will not be far behind. Given a choice between Fowler or Houllier all Liverpool fans will pick Fowler. Houllier needs to remember this before trying to force Fowler to leave.
Gary, England

Houllier has to pay a little more respect to the truly great striker
Manav Patel, Bristol, UK

He's not as good and prolific as he used to be and I'm sure Houllier has recognized that, otherwise he wouldn't be on the bench. All these arguments about him being the best in Britain are nonsense. If he was, then he would definitely be in the side. Fowler should move on, otherwise he is going to go stale. Right now, he is no better than Juan Pablo Angel.
Rai, Nepal

Robbie Fowler is the best striker we have. I don't know what Houllier is playing at and I certainly don't like it. The rotation system is one thing, but dropping our best striker for almost every game is quite another. Why does Houllier insist on playing Emile Heskey when he's got Fowler raring to go?

Fowler is a far better player than Heskey - it's not even debateable, but it seems as though Houllier is just very fond of Emile and that he does not like Robbie that much. Or is he trying to justify the price he paid for Heskey by playing him in every game? Houllier has achieved some wonderful things at Liverpool so far, but he needs to sort his act out and give Robbie Fowler a fair chance.
Hanif Debar, UK

No conclusions should be drawn from one game. Fowler should be more concerned about being involved at a later stage of the season, when Liverpool will be playing Champions League football. However, Houllier has to pay a little more respect to the truly great striker. Houllier is quick to make the point of 'who is in charge', but these sort of games should not really upset any of the players. It's the Charity Shield - he should have let all of them have a run around.
Manav Patel, Bristol, UK

He should act like a professional and prove why he should be in the team with his feet!
Tim Pitts, England

I feel sorry for Robbie as he is such a class act. Why Houllier doesn't play him more is beyond me. But all the same, Robbie needs to stop acting like a spoilt kid, and get on with it like the rest of the team. No, he shouldn't go, Yes, he should play more, Yes, he should act like a professional and prove why he should be in the team with his feet!
Tim Pitts, England

I hope Robbie does not leave but I fear the worst. He is our best striker but does not seem to be able to react to the rotation system, and up his game. Therefore Gerrard, doesn't play him in the big games and he is even more down-hearted. If he was given a run in the side he'd show the rest of the Premiership strikers up but we can't afford to give him time. We need to compete with Man U from day one of the season.
James Marshall, UK

I agree with Gerard Houllier and his plans for the club - different players for different types of games. And no player should feel that they have a larger profile than the club. Robbie Fowler, along with every other Liverpool player, knows what is expected of them, and rotation is a fact of life at Liverpool. I am sure if Robbie feels that he can't handle that, Gerard Houllier will have no choice or hesitation in transferring him to another club.
Tony Mckeown, New Zealand

If Robbie wants to ensure his England future isn't jeopardised, he needs to ensure he is playing in 75 per cent of Liverpool's games. At present it doesn't seem likely.
Antony, England

Gerard Houllier should be very careful. He is obviously a great manager but I think the Fowler situation is getting too personal - he seems to eager to prove who is in charge. There is no way that Robbie is not good enough to make the bench in a squad of 18. He has a better record against Man Utd than any other Liverpool player and should have played at least some part.
Marc, UK

Houllier's treatment of Fowler is an absolute disgrace
Simon M, Wales
Fowler will get his opportunity in the Liverpool squad, and I think he knows it. There were a lot of players left out both the Man Utd and Liverpool squads, and no conclusions should really be drawn from this. It is only the Charity Shield after all.
Biff Dholey, UK

Not even finding room for him on the bench would seem to imply that his future lies elsewhere. Sure, Houllier rotates his squad but it seems that some players are more rotated than others. It won't be enough for Fowler if he has to sit out the important games.
Shane, Ireland

Houllier's treatment of Fowler is an absolute disgrace. Fowler is one of the truly great strikers of his generation. He deserves to be treated with far greater respect by his manager, who since his arrival at the club has done his utmost to undermine his confidence by sidelining match after match.

Fowler should seriously think about leaving. He is far too good a player to spend the season on the bench.
Simon M, Wales

Robbie will always have a future at Anfield
Paul, England

He is probably the most cultured striker in the Premier League and he wants to play first team football. Houllier should swallow his pride on this one and drop Heskey for the opening game.
Barry, Chester, England

Fowler has proven to be a real asset to Liverpool and England. Personally I see him as a better striker than Heskey. Liverpool has the advantage of being able to rotate four strikers and should give them all playing time.
Trevor Stokes, Greece

This topic has become stale. So he misses a few games, it is commonly called squad rotation. His future is at Anfield - he wants to play for Liverpool, he will play for Liverpool - it's as simple as that. Competition for places is healthy for the club. Every time Owen gets dropped no-one talks about his future at the club. Fowler is the fans' favourite and one of the best strikers in the world. He's not going anywhere.
Matt Higgins, UK

Robbie will always have a future at Anfield, as long as he performs at the level he can do and scores when he plays. Unfortunately the press ignored the fact Cole was left out of the Manchester United squad and targeted Fowler instead. They should leave him alone.
Paul, England

See also:

12 Aug 01 |  Liverpool
Fowler sweats on Anfield future
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