28 February 2007

Fowler to MLS?

Disclaimer: I absolutely adore Robbie Fowler. I wholeheartedly and fully subscribe to all the feelings that have led the Kop to call the man “God.” He might be the most natural finisher I’ve ever seen. Ever. Please keep that in mind throughout the rest of this.

I have absolutely no desire to see Fowler in MLS, which is seemingly hot news and only a matter of time with all this paper talk. None. In fact, the prospect downright frightens me. An ex-Liverpool player, one of that stature of Fowler, in my backyard? How could it be bad? Easy.

Yeah, it’d be nice to see Fowler link up with Stevie Nicol, in my home country, where I’d have the chance to see him just as much, if not more, than I do now, and certainly more than if he moved to, say Qatar or Dubai (the other paychecks for pensioners footie hubs).

But it boils down to one thing. Would Robbie Fowler care enough to make it work?

Fowler’s mini-resurgence is down to one thing: desire. The only club he could have seen a return to form at was Liverpool, where personal pride and love of the club gave him the ambition to work his ass off (literally) getting into shape. I fear he’d have none of that desire in the USA, and it’d be a return to the Fowler of Leeds or Man City, with diminishing ambition and diminishing returns.

Even in shape, as Robbie is now, you can see that when he gets the full 90 minutes, as against Sheffield United, there’s an awful lot of walking around involved. He was never the quickest or fittest, but age is catching up with Robbie as well. He’s still got the touch, as shown with two smart penalties, but you’re never going to get an outstanding work rate due to fitness levels.

And upon seeing the level of competition in MLS, without the additional drive of wanting to make it at Liverpool, I fear Robbie would pack it in and coast through games. And the absolutely last thing I want to see is big-name footballers coming to the US to coast. That one of those footballers would be the legendary Robbie Fowler, jogging around Gillette Stadium at a half-canter, is even more a dismaying prospect, and nowhere near the finish Fowler deserves for his career.

The last thing I want is for MLS to turn into a catchword like Qatar or Dubai, where footballers go for that last big paycheck. We’ve seemingly come to the conclusion that financially it won’t hurt the MLS as it did the NASL for a variety of reasons, but where it will hurt the league is in appearance. If Fowler comes on the back of the Beckham hoopla, and doesn’t perform to his abilities or appears to coast through games, how is it going to look when MLS signs more name players over 30? Because as of now, those are the only players giving MLS the time of day.

That’s not what MLS needs. That’s not what Robbie Fowler deserves.

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