Liverpool Legends Finding A-League Management Tough and Facing Mounting Pressure

When you say the names Robbie Fowler and Markus Babbel to soccer fans around the world, there is an immediate recognition of their achievements in the game.

Fowler earned the nickname ‘God’ while at Liverpool, and remains the seventh all-time leading goalscorer in the English Premier League. His achievements at North Queensland Fury and Perth Glory need no further explanation.

Babbel, meanwhile, was a four-time German Bundesliga champion and a two-time UEFA Cup winner in his playing career, as well as being part of the Germany squad that won the European Championships in 1996.

Both have since transitioned into management and coaching, and at this moment in time, both are struggling to make any inroads to success in their respective roles.


Robbie Fowler‘ by Camw (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Fowler’s Brisbane Roar are in a battle to avoid the A-League wooden spoon in the early going, with a series of insipid performances suggesting the Liverpool man has an almighty job on his hands.

Meanwhile, Western Sydney lost five games on the spin prior to a 1-1 draw with Western United, and so Babbel’s outfit – who were fancied to go well this term – already have a tough task in chasing down early leaders Sydney FC.

So can this legendary duo turn their respective seasons around?

Fowl Play

When your team fails to record a single shot on goal, you know you’ve had a tough day at the office.

That was the case in Brisbane Roar’s 0-2 loss at home to Western United, and that was the fourth time in nine games this term that they had failed to trouble the scorers. Seething after the game, Fowler refused to shake the hand of United counterpart Mark Rudan and even failed to respond to a request from Fox Sports for an interview. 

From a manager renowned for his penchant for putting the ball in the net, these are worrying times. You wonder if Fowler himself has considered getting his boots out of the garage to solve his side’s shyness in front of goal.

If you’re not scoring goals, you need to be solid defensively to have any chance of accumulating points. And having shipped 15 times in those nine outings, the Brisbane outfit are clearly failing in both aspects of the beautiful game.

At least frontman Roy O’Donovan is showing some form with six goals this term, but he needs more support from those around him including creative midfielder Jay O’Shea.

Priced at odds of +2500 in the outright A-League Grand Final betting odds, even the bookmakers have lost faith in the abilities of ‘God’ to turn Brisbane Roar’s season around.

Taking the Bus

Two teams continue to find the way to goal paved with obstacles: the Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers.

A lack of creativity is the Roar’s problem, while for the Wanderers – who have failed to find the net in 30% of outings this term – Babbel believes that the issue lies elsewhere.



Markus Babbel‘ by Frank Schwichtenberg (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The German has claimed that his team commands so much respect that their opponents “park the bus” against them, noting that “if you give them [Sydney] space, then they can be very dangerous.”

There may be an element of truth in that, but lest we forget that the Wanderers have conceded two or more goals in five of their last six games – hardly a recipe for success.

Both Fowler and Babbel find themselves staring into the managerial abyss at the moment, and the jury is out as to whether they have the resources to turn their woes around.