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19 Apr 2017

World-Class Series [No6]: Robbie Fowler (Liverpool and England). Was he 'world-class'?

Robbie Fowler: Liverpool legend, and one of the Reds' most revered players, but was he world-class?

World Class: My Definition

Before a player can be deemed 'world-class', he/she must have a Specific, Measurable Impact (SMI) at all three levels of football, and push his/her team to relative success at all three levels.

The Three Levels

* Domestic: National leagues.

* European: Champions League, Europa League, or equivalent.

* World: International - qualifying and/or tournaments.

Relative Success: OAL and SMI

* What is the the team's Optimum Achievement Level (OAL) in a given competition? In other words, based on historical performance, what is the absolute best the team can realistically expect to achieve?

* Causation: The player's causal contribution to his team's OAL. To what extend did the player in question help the team to meet its OAL? But for the player under consideration, would the team still have achieved its OAL?

* A variety of objective, position-specific criteria should be used when assessing the SMI of players. For example, for attacking players: Goals; assists; conversion rate; key passes; shot-assists; passing accuracy etc. For defenders: goals conceded; blocks; aerial duels won; tackle success rate etc.

* Players in inferior teams are still capable of being 'world class' as long as their SMI is such that they excel, and push their team to achieve its OAL (though in all cases, SMI at all three levels is required).

ROBBIE FOWLER: WORLD CLASS?

* SMI at Domestic Level: Premier League: 162 goals in 379 apps (169 for Liverpool in the league/domestic cups). Double figures for goals/assists in 7 of his 11 seasons at LFC). Helped Liverpool win 3 domestic trophies. Played his part in helping LFC finish in the top four 7 times. 2x PFA 'Young player of the Year' awards.

* SMI at European Level: Liverpool: 22 goals/assists in 44 European games. 2001: Scored a crucial goal in the UEFA CUP final, which the Reds went on to win. 1997: Scored 7 goals in Liverpool's run to the UEFA Cup Winner's Cup semi-final. 1997: UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Top scorer.

* SMI at International level: England: 10 goals/assists in 26 games. Scored just one goal in ten competitive internationals (Qualifying/international tournaments). Didn't play any significant role in helping England qualify for (an/or progress at) a major tournament.

* Conclusion: Fowler is inarguably one of Liverpool's greatest goalscorers, and at domestic Level, he did a fantastic job for the Reds. He also meets the European level requirement, though only just as he scored more than 2 goals on just one occasion during his 9 European seasons at Anfield.

Unfortunately, despite his prodigious talent, Fowler had no significant impact at international level. Granted, successive England managers rarely selected and/or played him, but when given the chance, he couldn't (for whatever reason) reproduce his Liverpool form on the international stage.

* Verdict: Not World-Class. As much as it pains me to admit it, Fowler didn't do enough during his career to be considered a world-class player.

* Previous articles in this series: Kenny Dalglish | Sami Hyypia | George Best | Wayne Rooney | Ryan Giggs




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