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Divine Approval

Apparently, amidst the high-pitched squawking of the morally outraged and the resigned sighing of the embattled supporters of Liverpool Football Club, a game took place. Robbie Fowler was quite impressed.

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Paul Kane

Even retirement from the professional game cannot, it seems, prevent Robert Bernard Fowler from accruing accolades and scoring goals for Liverpool. The Toxteth Terror was part of the Liverpool Masters squad, competing in Malaysia, where he won Player of the Tournament and Top-Scorer awards.

The Liverpool squad, comparatively youthful for such a tourney of the superannuated, contained the likes of Rob Jones, Stephane Henchoz, Steve McManaman, Patrick Berger and Vladimir Smicer. Some, like Steve Harkness and God himself, may be carrying a little extra timber of late, but any unseemly corpulence was quickly forgiven when the Reds' old-boys put Manchester United's vets to the sword. In this arena of advancing decrepitude, Liverpool are still the [tubby] daddies.

Fowler, a converted Redman, having been Everton born and bred, remains an active and passionate match-going fan and has long been an advocate of the changes Brendan Rodgers has instigated at Anfield. He has preached a message of patience and tolerance, convinced that the club is being steered on a true course by the Northern Irishman.

"I think if you look at Liverpool's form over the course of the season," our former number nine opined to Liverpoolfctv in Malaysia, "it has steadily improved. It took a while before we beat a side in the top ten and I think that was just down to a little lack of consistency. But I'm very confident that we will continue to get stronger and become a much better team over the next few years with Brendan."

According to the former England man, "the results are steadily getting better" and he claims to be "really impressed" with Rodgers, who reached only his 200th game in management against Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday. Fowler's opinions are not simply the empty rhetoric of an ex-player-turned-pundit -- hello, Messrs Souness and Redknapp --as he points to some evidence to reinforce his theories.

"We've got 51 points on the board at the moment," he offered, "and last season we finished up with 52 and we've got a few games to go to improve on that. So I think you can say the progression is certainly there. I'm not focused on who finishes above us, my main aim - and it always has been - is just on Liverpool."

This singular fixation on his team to the exclusion of others is admirable, but Fowler's thesis presupposes that the remaining four games will yield up more than a solitary point, thereby resulting in a tangible improvement on Kenny Dalglish's haul. Given the gloomy despondency displayed by some of late, the word of God may not be readily accepted in certain territories. Heretics and unbelievers abound, but the man who scored 189 goals in 369 appearances is full of evangelical zeal.

"I think you'd have to say it was a point gained, given the way the match panned out," was Fowler's upbeat verdict on the home draw against Chelsea on Sunday. "If I'm being honest, Chelsea edged us in possession but the result is the most important thing. I know it's not a victory, but if you score an equaliser so late in the game, sometimes it actually feels like a win. You feel as though you have got something out of the game that you shouldn't have. So for me it was a good point gained."

For a fellow once universally derided as a Scouse 'scally', Robbie Fowler gives the impression, these days, of being quite the level-headed pragmatist. It is easy to forget that the result against Chelsea was indeed a point gained and in the mire of controversy created by everybody's favourite centre-half-gnawer, that has been lost.

The introduction of Daniel Sturridge -- a Rodgers purchase, lest we forget -- turned the game on it's head. The England striker had the same kind of stunning impact he made in his early appearances, before his lapse in form due to injury. In his performance, and that of his colleagues, there was ample evidence of the famous "character" of which Rodgers so often speaks. You'll forgive me, therefore, if like Robbie Fowler, I choose to accentuate the positive during this media feeding frenzy.

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