The intelligent Newcastle United player who's back to his best under Eddie Howe – after 'tough' spell under Steve Bruce
A year ago, Fabian Schar found himself out in the cold at Newcastle United as summer turned to autumn.
Schar started the first two games of last season before being sidelined by then-head coach Steve Bruce. With the defender in the final year of his contract at St James’s Park, it looked like his days were numbered on Tyneside.
Yet, 12 months later, the Switzerland international, just as he was under Rafa Benitez, is a fixture in United’s starting XI.
In fact, Schar has been a fixture in the team since Eddie Howe succeeded Steve Bruce last November.
The 30-year-old had confidence in Howe and his staff from “day one” after a “tough” spell out of the team.
“I’ve said this a lot of times," said Schar, who started the season in defence alongside summer signing Sven Botman. “From day one, I’ve had confidence in the gaffer, which helps me a lot.
“Obviously, it was tough before (Howe’s arrival), but since they arrived, I felt confidence from them, 100%.
“I did my part as well, played my game and got back to my best. I concentrated on my game to perform the best possible, and tried to help the team. It’s what I try every game.”
Howe recalled Schar to his team for his first game in charge, the 3-3 home draw against Brentford which he missed with a Covid-19 infection.
The decision shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as Howe had previously tried to sign Schar, an intelligent, ball-playing centre-half, while in charge of Bournemouth, who were in the Championship at the time.
“We had a few phone calls,” Schar told the club’s matchday programme last season. “It was really a possibility for me. They were still in the Championship then, the year before they went up I think.
“At that time, I wasn’t sure whether to go into the second league. But I knew him, and the way he plays. I knew it was something that suited me, so, at that moment, it was very important to go somewhere which I think is best for me.
“Obviously, I made another decision then, but not because of him – because I had another chance to play in a top league.
“But when he came (to Newcastle), I had a good feeling about it.”
Schar went on to sign a new two-year deal at Newcastle.
“He even said to me before the first game that he knows what sort of player I am – and that he knows me,” said Schar, signed by Benitez in the summer of 2018 from Deportivo La Coruna.
“I felt really comfortable from day one. The way we play, and I think the way we will try to play in the next few years suits me perfectly. I'll try to be the player I am with a manager who knows me and gives me confidence.”
United were 20th after the Brentford game, but the team ended the campaign in 11th place after a remarkable turnaround.
“For us, we want to continue the work from last year,” said Schar, preparing for Sunday’s game away to West Ham United. “The last few years I’ve been here, most years we’ve had tough starts. We want to continue the work we did last year to get better.”