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.
Despite his relatively short time in the A-League, Fowler wasn’t afraid to take aim at its perceived shortcomings; salary caps, scheduling and refereeing performances, all invoking his ire at some stage. Then of course the infamous ‘handshake gate’ with his Western United counterpart Mark Rudan.
He certainly leaves Roar in much better shape than he found them and his stock will now be higher.
Fowler told Pearce: "Do I feel like I proved a point? Definitely. I’ve shown people how dedicated, professional and passionate I am.
"Going overseas was what was needed to show people back home."
Roar fan and one third of the Brisbane Football Review podcast, James Caughlin, looks back on Fowler's tenure as a relative success, yet unfinished.
He added: "For me his stay can only be described as incomplete. To his credit he came in with a clear style that was a major departure from Ange’s Roarcelona but it’s been able to get results.
"It took a while and some frankly brutal performances but the players were really starting to get around it. Winning over a spoiled, cynical and bitter fan base was never going to be easy but a good run into the finals could have turned the tide."
Brisbane will now embark on their quest to secure a finals berth without Fowler at the helm, with coach Darren Davies and Academy boss Warren Moon being asked to steer the ship for the remainder of the campaign.
The appointment of Fowler at Roar was a marriage of convenience. For Fowler the opportunity to prove his credentials as a Head Coach, and for Roar, the chance to banish the previous season of disappointment and start to lay some solid foundations.
You could say for both parties it's mission accomplished.
Recently Fowler has been linked with the vacant Birmingham City job and has spoken glowingly of the MLS. With this in mind, he may be advised to review some of his social media offerings, becoming involved in several spats during his time as Roar coach. His next position will undoubtedly carry more scrutiny and be less forgiving.
Having been used to receiving adulation as a player, and being affectionately known as ‘God’ by the Liverpool faithful, Fowler never really felt the love during his time in A-League.
There was certainly some (possibly justified) frustration at not earning enough plaudits for overseeing a turnaround with a virtually new look squad.
He also blooded in some of the Roar's promising youngsters, notably striker Mirza Muratovic who repaid that faith with a couple of goals.
Clearly, Fowler has something to offer as a coach and potential suitors will take note of the transformation he oversaw at Brisbane.
Roar fans will be left wondering what might have been had Covid 19 not intervened at a time when they were the competition's in-form side.
For many, the A-League will certainly be a less interesting place without the man from Toxteth.