Has the A-League been sleeping on Brisbane Roar? Head Coach Robbie Fowler certainly seems to think so.
Thanks to Mirza Muratovic’s 61st minute winner on Sunday afternoon, Fowler’s Roar now sit four points clear of vanquished seventh-placed foes Western United on the A-League table at the conclusion of round eighteen.
A finals spot looks more and more likely with every passing day, nearest rivals United, Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory - the latter two already having made mid-season coaching changes - all floundering as the season-long grind takes its toll.
However, it’s not just a sixth-place finish that could be on the radar for the men in orange, with the gap between themselves and second-placed Melbourne City – with Roar possessing two games in hand – just five points.
And with six of their last nine remaining games all set to be played at home, the opportunity is there for the Queenslanders to put together a run home that can vault them into contention for, at the very least, a home final.
“You mentioned how no one’s mentioned it - we knew,” Fowler said when asked if his team was flying under the radar.
“The table’s tight, we’re two points off Wellington and Adelaide who have had good seasons.
“You look at Adelaide and, performance-wise, I know they had a bit of a dip mid-season where they lost a few games but generally their forms been good.
“And Wellington is rightly getting lots of good plaudits because of the way they’re playing and getting good results.
“We’re two points behind them – so maybe we’re not a bad team.”
His only previous senior coaching experience coming during a brief player-coaching stint with Thai side Muangthong United, Fowler is in the midst of his first full-time coaching appointment with Roar.
Though Fowler is adamant in his declarations that they didn’t reflect the quality of his side’s performances, results were hard to come for the Liverpool and England legend during the opening months of his spell as Roar only took two wins from their first 10.
Now, however, the Queenslanders have only lost a single game in their last eight, whilst only conceding six goals in that time frame.
The 44-year-old says he’s constantly picking up new things to aid him in his coaching duties, and that they’re empowering him to make the decisions he feels are necessary to put his team in winning positions.
“I think I’m learning all the time,” he said.
“Every single day as a coach you learn different parts of how clubs are run, different parts of training, how you can adapt sessions, how you can adapt to players.
“As I’ve said from day one, I’m here to enjoy myself, here to try and get the best results and so far I’m liking it.
“Regardless of what I feel, I think it’s plainly obvious to see, I think we’ve made lots of good decisions during the season.
“In terms of letting players go, bringing players on at the right time, making subs early in games.
“I think I’ve proven to people I’m not afraid to make tough decisions.
“This is obviously what I want to do and fundamentally it is all about the right results and if that means making changes early doors so be it.”