Fowler Exclusive: Time for Suarez to start paying Kop back
Published 22:29 25/02/12 By Simon Mullock
Robbie Fowler has told Luis Suarez that it’s pay-back time.
The ex-Liverpool and Cardiff striker will be an interested observer when two of his former clubs clash in the Carling Cup Final at Wembley today.
And he will be paying particular attention to Suarez, given the Uruguayan forward’s ugly brush with racism this season.
Fowler, 36, believes that lesser men than Kenny Dalglish would have crumbled under the weight of criticism piled on his shoulders for the unstinting support he gave Suarez in the aftermath of his race-row with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
And he now says that the time has come for Suarez to start putting the pride back into the Liverpool No.7 shirt he inherited from his manager.
“Suarez owes a big, big debt of gratitude to Kenny Dalglish,” said Fowler. “No-one knows for sure what actually happened between Suarez and Evra apart from the two players themselves, but Kenny really put himself in the firing line by standing up for his player.
“Different people have different opinions on whether he was right to defend Luis the way he did.
“But I can tell you from my own experience that when you feel like the whole world is against you, the man you turn to for support is your manager.
“I am sure that Kenny has left Suarez in no doubt about how he is expected to behave when he’s wearing the Liverpool shirt.
“You could tell by the apology made by Kenny when Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand at Old Trafford a few weeks ago that he felt his player let him down on that occasion.
“But Kenny would have done most of his talking behind closed doors.
“That’s the Liverpool way.”
Fowler added: “I got myself into a few scrapes when I was a Liverpool player and when I look back now I accept that I should have handled certain situations differently.
“I remember when celebrating scoring a goal against Everton by pretending to snort the lines marking the penalty area.
“It was a spontaneous reaction because the Everton fans had been singing something about me that I wasn’t happy about and being a local lad I let myself get too caught up in the heat of a Mersey derby.
“It was a stupid thing to do, really, and I got fined by the club and banned by the FA for my troubles.
“But our manager Gerard Houllier was brilliant. He took me to one side and reminded me that as a Liverpool player I had certain responsibilities.
“In public, there was no criticism. Only Gerard’s total support.
“I’d like to think that I repaid him by doing the business for Liverpool on the pitch – and that’s what I’d love to see Luis doing for Kenny.”
Fowler produced a man-of-the-match display. He scored a goal and converted in a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out – before lifting the League Cup as captain in 2001 when Liverpool beat Birmingham at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
After spells at Leeds and Manchester City, he briefly returned to Anfield under Rafa Benitez before moving to Cardiff for a season that saw the Championship club reach the FA Cup Final.
Fowler regrets that his stay in the Welsh capital came to an end when Blackburn gave him the opportunity to return to the Premier League and his native north-west.
“I know the Cardiff fans don’t remember me with too much fondness because I was injured for most of my time there and then decided to move to Blackburn for family reasons,” said Fowler.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but one of the regrets I’ve got is that I didn’t stay at Cardiff for another season.
“They were already a club geared towards playing in the Premier League and since then they have moved to a magnificent new stadium.
“It says everything about how far Cardiff have progressed that they could end up playing much more important games than the Carling Cup Final this season because they are well placed to reach the play-offs again.
“In fact, this is probably a bigger game for Kenny Dalglish than it is for Malky Mackay.”
Fowler added: “Liverpool will be massive favourites at Wembley and the game could shape the rest of their season.
“The two Manchester clubs and Tottenham are out of sight at the top of the Premier League, but if Liverpool win the Carling Cup then the momentum will be with them for fourth place at a time when both Chelsea and Arsenal look like they are going backwards.
“It isn’t just Luis Suarez who must stand up and be counted at Wembley.
“Kenny has spent a lot of money bringing Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam to Anfield and the pressure will be on them as well.
“It can be a culture shock when you move to a club like Liverpool because suddenly the pressure is on you to win every single game.
“There’s no hiding place.
“It can take some players time to settle, while others never get used to it.”View from Anfield: Why history is the key factor for King Kenny