Liverpool FC legend Robbie Fowler is in talks to become manager of East Bengal for the Kolkata club's first season in the Indian Super League (ISL), Hari Om Bangur, the team's principal owner told PTI. The former England international, who previously coached Brisbane Roar in the A-league, would replace Spaniard Mario Rivera.
"We have had a series of talks with Fowler but I cannot say 'yes' now with responsibility. I can only say Fowler can also be our coach," said Bangur. He also hinted that the decision would be made soon as the coach's appointment would determine the makeup of the team itself ahead of next month's start to the league.
Fowler would be coming to the ISL following a fairly successful stint in the A-league, where he managed to take Brisbane from the bottom of the league (when he took over) to fourth (when he left, with 4 games to play). The A-league had been suspended for four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Fowler had flown back home to England at the time. The relationship ended in rather acrimonious circumstances after the league resumed in Australia.
Brisbane had been Fowler's first full-time stint in management. He had previously been player-manager at Thai Premier League side for half-a-season in 2011-12. In the intervening years, Fowler had been at his boyhood club, Liverpool, in an ambassadorial role. He had also spent time as a mentor with Liverpool's academy, and completed his UEFA Pro Licence in 2017.
Fowler's playing career is rather more illustrious - he is Liverpool's third highest ever goalscorer (183 goals) and the seventh highest goalscorer in the Premier League era (163 goals).
Meanwhile, last season in the I-league, East Bengal had been in second place, 16 points behind confirmed champions Mohun Bagan when the league was suspended due to the pandemic with four games left to play.
East Bengal's decision to join the ISL was also announced on Saturday, and the club will become the 11th team to compete in the 2020-21 season, starting in November.