News, views and abuse from Australia
If you were to believe the media headlines following the latest round of A-League action, simmering disharmony appears to be the new teamwork.
From the spat between Perth Glory skipper Jacob Burns and Dutch import Victor Sikora to Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante ragging on his former club Newcastle Jets, airing public grievances has been the trend in vogue of late.
As such, it was no major surprise to read a headline on The World Game website imaginatively entitled “Fury deny Fergie-Fowler rift.”
The crux of the article, if you couldn’t guess, was that North Queensland officials were forced to refute claims that coach Ian Ferguson was unhappy with the form of a certain Robbie Fowler.
The feature was easy to overlook – Fowler can hardly blow his nose without an eager A-League scribe reporting it – and the former Liverpool, Leeds and Man City striker has been linked with a move away from the minute he set foot in the tropical north.
However, if fans of the Townsville club were desperate for assurances that “God” would see out his contract with the struggling Fury, they’ve hardly received them thanks to another spate of articles linking Fowler with a move.
The latest gossip suggests that Tranmere are casting envious glances at the Scouser – who coincidentally got on the scoresheet with a fine header in North Queensland’s 1-1 home draw with Wellington Phoenix in Round 11.
Fowler wasn’t the only player to answer his critics on the pitch, with Perth's Sikora shrugging off a rebuke from captain Burns to set up the Glory's equaliser against Gold Coast United.
Following several slips from Sikora, and without even waiting for the imminent half-time break, an apoplectic Burns demanded that coach Dave Mitchell substitute the Dutchman.
Mitchell shrugged his shoulders at the request, and Sikora went on to thread a defence-splitting pass to set up a goal for Todd Howarth.
If Howarth was delighted with his debut A-League strike, his euphoria lasted all of 10 seconds.
Straight from the kick-off he comically clattered into team-mate Jamie Coyne and allowed Gold Coast’s Joel Porter to set up goal-machine Shane Smeltz for the winner.
Howarth will no doubt spare a thought for Newcastle Jets' beleaguered goalkeeper Ben Kennedy, who was publicly assured that his position was safe – only to discover within days that the Jets were courting former Socceroos wild-child Mark Bosnich.
These days Bosnich is a Fox Sports analyst, and an insightful one at that, with his candid honesty a refreshing change from the old boys' club that dominates certain sections of the Australian football media.
The hapless Kennedy would face another long spell on the bench if Bosnich were to come out of retirement to play for the Jets, and the three late goals conceded in a 3-1 home defeat to Melbourne Victory didn’t exactly help his cause.
The Jets are synonymous with a lack of professionalism – after re-signing for Wellington Phoenix, former Newcastle defender Andrew Durante admitted as much – so hanging their young goalkeeper out to dry isn’t beyond the Novocastrian club.
But it’s the claim that Robbie Fowler could be on his way out of the A-League that will keep the headline writers in work.
Whether there’s any truth to the story is somewhat of a moot point.
Fowler is one of the A-League’s most marketable players, so any suggestion that he could leave the struggling Fury will strike at the heart of a competition that has found it a hard slog to attract fans through the gates this season.
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