‘œTrust in the Lord with all your heart; and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all things acknowledge him, and he shall direct your way. [Proverbs 3:5, 6]’
They say that prayer is the last refuge of a desperate man but I gave up on that long ago when it became apparent after the debacle at Old Trafford this season that no19’s arrival at Anfield would still be on hold for at least another season. This season has at times, especially away from home, been incredibly frustrated having created an abundance of chances yet not taken them and have paid the price as a result. Games against Chelsea, Bolton and more recently, Blackburn spring to mind where a lack of cutting edge in the final third has been our downfall and we can only hope that this trend does not continue to plague us on the road as we go in search of a Champions League place. I on the other hand, am hoping for some divine intervention courtesy of resident Messiah, Robert Bernard Fowler.
As a lifelong Liverpool fan, Fowler’s ‘œsecond coming’ in January of this year was one of the most emotional experiences I have experienced watching the reds. Fowler was my hero as a child and I would spend hours upon hours kicking a tennis ball in the back garden pretending that I was Robbie himself scoring the winner in the last minute of the cup final. It was heartbreaking to see him turn up a shadow of his former self, the man who was described by Peter Schmeichel arguably the best goalkeeper in the world over the past 10 years as one of the best strikers around, lumber around in a Man City shirt looking off pace. However, as the banner goes, form is temporary and class is indeed permanent, as every so often the Robbie Fowler of old would appear in flashes with goals that wouldn’t have looked out of place in his 90s pomp. I remember one goal in particular for City when, if my memory serves me right, were playing Bolton at the Reebok, when Fowler received the ball with his back to goal about 20 yards out with a defender marking him tightly. Fowler took the ball on his chest, turned the defender with frightening ease and unleashed an unstoppable left-footed volley into the top corner. In short, I always believed that despite being off pace, probably due to year’s of niggling injuries as well as the one he received in the derby that robbed him of a place in England’s 1998 World Cup squad, that Fowler’s finishing prowess would never dessert him.
I was proved correct with this assessment as towards the end of last season, Fowler scored the goals to help us finish 3rd in the table. Some of the goals he scored were a master class in the art of goalscoring as two in particular, against West Brom and Blackburn, were a result of anticipation and off the ball running. As a result, he deservedly earned himself another year at the club to ensure that the love affair between him and the supporters would last just a little bit longer.
As expected Fowler is our current fourth choice striker and to be fair to him, he has done the business whenever he has played this season with goals against Sheff Utd, Reading and a brace against Galatasaray and looked especially impressive against the Royals at Anfield when he gave a classy display and played the role of a second striker superbly with great link-up play. The thing is now, Fowler just hasn’t got the legs for 90 minutes week in week out in the Premiership but there is no doubt in my mind that we could certainly get a lot more from Robbie Fowler and could still do a job if called upon.
This is not a knee-jerk response from the ‘œRafa doesn’t know what he’s doing’ brigade in response to defeat at Blackburn but I honestly feel that Fowler could still score goals for Liverpool Football Club if he was given the chance. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think he warrants a starting berth as Kuyt and Bellamy seems to be developing into an excellent partnership and Crouch, for all his critics, is still an excellent target man but I have been disappointed with how little chances Fowler has received. Like it or not, but he is still the only natural goalscorer we have in the squad and so can still be an asset. The game against Blackburn were a host of chances were squandered made me realise that if Fowler could come on for the last 20 minutes in tight games, he could prove to be the difference between a defeat and a good result. For one thing, I have every confidence that if Fowler had received the same chance that Kuyt got at Ewood Park, with his back to goal before hitting a tame shot straight at Friedel, the net would have bulged.
We are increasingly being told that football nowadays is a squad game, were every man plays his part for his team. It seems that we have a good back-up option in Robbie Fowler and given the right supply, he can still come up with the odd goal or two and is indeed a different player to what we currently have in Kuyt, Bellamy and Crouch. For a start, unlike the previous three I have mentioned, Fowler has the intelligence of being in the right place at the right time. In the recent game against Watford, their goalkeeper, Ben Foster spilled numerous long-range efforts but unfortunately, neither Kuyt nor Bellamy possessed the instinct to punish him for these mistakes.
I really do believe that we can get a whole lot more out of Robbie Fowler and could make a significant difference to the side when coming off the bench. The bible says that faith in God will be rewarded so hopefully Robbie Fowler could still yet have a part to play in the outcome of Liverpool’s season.