Ryan Fraser opens up on his Bournemouth exit ahead of Newcastle United debut
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Fraser joined the club as free agent on Monday after meeting head coach Bruce for talks on Tyneside late last week.
The winger – who has signed a five-year deal at St James’s Park – opted not to sign a short-term contract extension at the Vitality Stadium in the summer, and he didn’t play in the Premier League’s restart following a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bournemouth, beaten 4-1 by Newcastle in July, were relegated at the end of the season, and Fraser has spoken about that controversial decision ahead of the new campaign.
“It’s not been easy,” said the Scotland international, who joined Bournemouth in League One and helped the club win promotion to the Premier League. “The whole situation, the way it ended at Bournemouth, it wasn’t nice.
"I never wanted it to end like that, from what we went through from start to finish. No-one saw that this virus would come. If this virus didn’t come, I would have played every game under my contract.
“Everyone’s got their opinions. I respect everyone’s opinion, good or bad. I wasn’t under contract, so I didn’t feel like I should play the games … (in case) I get an injury.
"Obviously, I wanted to help the team. I didn’t want them to go down. I feel like if I’d played, without sounding big-headed or big time, I like to think I would kept us up, which hurts even more. But I wasn’t under contract so I didn’t actually do anything wrong, but I can see why people think that.”
Fraser is still on good terms with former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall, his successor.
"Look, I’m still good with the manager, Jason Tindall,” said the 26-year-old. “I saw Eddie Howe for a coffee three or four weeks ago. We’re very good, there’s no hard feelings or negative stuff there.
"Obviously, the fans were disappointed. I get that and I respect. Look, I hope they come back. I wish them all the best, I really do, but I need to put that to one side now. I regret that (Bournemouth’s relegation), not my decision. I don’t regret my decision, I’m going to be honest. I just regret how it ended.
"Now that’s passed, that’s gone now, now it’s looking at the next five, 10 years hopefully I’m here, and how I can make these fans get off their seats.
"I know the Bournemouth fans, if you take away the end of last season, it was very successful, me and the club, not just the club giving me a platform, I worked hard as well.
"They could say the club gave me everything, but I worked hard as well. I helped the club as well. I will come here, put that behind me, start afresh, make my own history and make these fans get off their seats and cheer.”
Fraser – who started his career at hometown club Aberdeen, and moved to Bournemouth in 2013 – spent some time with his family this summer before making a decision on his future.
“It's been a long time coming, and it would have got sorted a lot earlier, but my mum was down (for the summer), and I had not seen her for eight or nine months,” said Fraser, who faced the media today with fellow new signings Callum Wilson and Jama Lewis.
"Family comes first, and I wanted to see her. I also hadn't seen my dad for about a year and a half.
"So I’m buzzing to be here now – every day I can't take the smile off my face. I'm just looking forward to it, and getting started now.
"I’ve not played since March, and it's a big factor, but, at the same time, I've done everything I can over lockdown to stay fit as much as I can, and be ready for the manager now."
Fraser – who hasn’t played a competitive game for six months – is training ahead of Saturday’s Premier League season-opener against West Ham United.
Asked if he would be involved in the televised game at the London Stadium, Fraser said: "Only he (Bruce) can tell you that.
"The first day I was here, there was nothing (planned), and I asked to come in to get some fitness done, and see where I was at. I didn't want to waste a day.
"After the signing and medical was done, I was like 'get me in now – I don't want to waste time'. I done fitness stuff on Tuesday, and now I'm with the team.
"I don't know on Saturday – it's up to the manager, and he hasn't seen me in action since March.
"It'll be interesting, but, fitness-wise, I’ll be at 90%. The only way to get to that next level is by playing games.
"I'm ready if called upon. If it's the bench, I'm ready, or if it's a case of sit in the stands and support the lads, so be it.”