The news Brisbane Roar fans had been expecting has today finally been confirmed, with the announcement that Robbie Fowler will not be reprising his role as Head Coach, drawing a curtain on his 14-month stint in charge.
Fowler had returned to his Merseyside family home in March after the A-League shut down, and had been coy about plans to go back to Brisbane, saying he felt he wasn’t ‘a priority’ for the club as they were yet to organise a flight for him.
Technical Director Tony Grant has also ended his deal with the club, with vice chairman Chris Fong confirming Roar's next permanent manager would be Australian.
With the A-League restarting on July 16, the clock had been ticking on his return; particularly given that he would be required to complete a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
The former Liverpool and England striker landed in Brisbane in April last year as a managerial rookie with a long and decorated playing career who had often been overlooked for jobs in the UK, much to his chagrin.
Upon his unveiling, some commentators took a swipe at a perceived ‘celebrity signing’- a foreign novice blocking the path for home grown coaches.
This slight was not lost on Fowler, who in a frank interview with The Athletic’s James Pearce last month, said: "Foreign managers aren’t exactly embraced by the powers that be out there.
"They want Aussie coaches in charge of the team. It’s ridiculous, really, because they are more than happy for them to go and coach overseas.
"Us being there put a few noses out of joint, but that made us even more determined to succeed."
Fowler inherited a Roar side in turmoil, which had won only four of 27 games the previous season, leaking 71 goals in the process.
He was given carte blanche to revamp the playing squad, bringing in 15 new arrivals. Many were plucked from English lower leagues - another bone of contention with critics.
When Brisbane were winless in their opening four games with just a solitary goal to their name, the knives were being sharpened.
However, Roar rallied, and were sitting pretty in fourth spot prior to the A-League being suspended. Fowler collected back-to-back manager of the month awards in January and February, and was on course for a hat-trick after overseeing three straight wins in March.
Much of their recovery could be attributed to the arrival of ex-Socceroo Scott McDonald at the beginning of the year.
The former Celtic striker - brought out of retirement by Western United at the start of the season before his mid-season move north - provided a much needed cutting edge in the final third.
Fowler should also take credit for shoring up the Roar backline. Often their Achilles heel in previous campaigns, they have become a far tougher nut to crack, led superbly by skipper Tom Aldred - another UK import.