Robbie Fowler has departed his role as head coach of Indian Super League side SC East Bengal, as a managerial career blighted by lockdowns hits another speedbump.
Fowler joined the newly renamed SC East Bengal last October, following a takeover by Indian cement manufacturer Shree Cement that led to a promotion to the Indian Super League (ISL).
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the ISL was staged over three venues across Goa throughout the 2020/21 season – over 2,000 kilometres from Kolkata.
The former Liverpool striker was unable to settle into his new surroundings, then, describing his living situation as an “open prison” in an interview with the Guardian in February.
“I use this term loosely but essentially we are in an open prison,” he explained.
“People may say ‘you are in a five-star hotel’ but it’s a lockdown that we’ve been in for four or five months and we leave just to train and play games.’
Fowler oversaw a difficult season that saw SC East Bengal take 17 points from 20 games in the ISL, finishing ninth out of 11 sides, 23 points behind champions Mumbai City.
With India one of the countries hit worst by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fowler returned to England upon the close of the ISL campaign, and it has now been confirmed that he has left his head coach role by mutual consent.
“SC East Bengal can confirm that the club has agreed with Robbie Fowler to a mutual termination of the head coach’s contract,” a statement read on Wednesday.
“Alongside his assistant Tony Grant, he took charge of the team in a very challenging period of transition and managed to overcome significant odds to bring the fans some moments of joy in the club’s first ever season in the Hero Indian Super League.”
Fowler was previously in charge of Brisbane Roar in the A-League in Australia, but opted to stay on Merseyside after flying back in the initial stages of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, stepping down from his position after 11 months.
It has been a far from orthodox managerial career for the 46-year-old, then, and he has recently turned his attention to a new venture alongside Jamie Carragher at Liverpool’s old training site at Melwood.
Prior to his exit, Fowler told The Athletic‘s James Pearce that he would consider a job in MLS, wanting to “be judged on what I’ve done as a manager,” rather than his playing career.