Ryan Fraser's telling response at Newcastle United to question on his improved form under Eddie Howe
Ryan Fraser tried to be diplomatic, but his answer was still revealing.
Fraser was asked what had changed for him at Newcastle United after one of his best performances yet for the club.
The winger, signed in the summer of 2020 as a free agent following his departure from Bournemouth, had just scored his first goal for the club.
Fraser – whose first season at the club was punctuated by a series of injuries – swept home a cross from Allan Saint-Maximin in Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over Everton.
The 27-year-old, signed by Eddie Howe’s predecessor Steve Bruce, was asked what had changed for him at the club.
“Careful what I say here,” Fraser told NUFC TV. “Since the gaffer’s came in, he’s been working one-to-one with me, working with all the team. We’re playing better – better football.
“I don’t want to say anything negative about before. I’ve got myself to blame as well, I wasn’t good enough. I suppose this kind of suits me a little bit better.”
Fraser’s controversial decision not to sign a short-term contract extension at Bournemouth, where he played under Howe, for the Premier League’s Project Restart games in the summer of 2020 saw him go six months without playing a game.
That long spell without competitive football was, unquestionably, a factor in his injury problems last season. However, when he was fit, Bruce wasn’t able to get the best out of him, which is something Howe has been able to do in recent weeks.
Howe told Fraser not to get hung up on his lack of goals – and get back to basics.
“I’ve worked with him for a long, long time – I know him well,” said United’s head coach.
“I knew the goal was potentially on his mind, but I always think with any player that goals will come if you get your performances right and you focus on the basic process you need to perform well. For Ryan, it’s all about defending well and getting those basics in. He’s so intelligent and technically good, that the goals and assists will come.
“They’re part of his game, that won’t go away. If you focus on that too much, sometimes that can be a negative. Really pleased for him. Now he can build on from here.”