What went wrong at Newcastle United for Ryan Fraser
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Sadly, that didn’t happen too often.
And the pacy, hard-working winger’s career at the club is all but over less than three years after he joined as a free agent after refusing to sign a short-term contract extension at Bournemouth, then managed by Eddie Howe, allowing him to play on when the Premier League restarted in the summer of 2020 following a hiatus for Covid-19.
Howe’s team was relegated at the end of the delayed campaign, and Fraser admitted his involvement in the restart might have made all the difference.
“Everyone’s got their opinions,” said Fraser after joining Newcastle ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
“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.”
That decision meant that Fraser went six months without playing a competitive game, and while it secured him a lucrative move to St James’s Park, it would prove costly in another way.
It was always going to be a challenge getting Fraser back up to speed following his lengthy break, and the Scotland international’s first year at the club was punctuated by a series of niggling injuries. Fraser only made nine Premier League starts in a stop-start season.
Then came a reunion with Howe on Tyneside in late 2021 following the departure of Steve Bruce after a winless start to the 2021/22 season.
Speaking at the time, United’s head coach said: “Me and Ryan always had a very strong relationship.
“We worked together so closely for a number of years to try and get the best out of him – and make him into a Premier League player.
“He was absolutely brilliant. From day one, he really took on board what we were trying to do with him. He worked incredibly hard and he got all the rewards.
“I was disappointed for us with the ending at Bournemouth, but I was disappointed for him, too. That's in the past. The future's the future, and I'm delighted to be working with him again.”
Today, Fraser – who hasn’t made a competitive club appearance since mid-October – faces another long wait for a first-team game, having been told to train with the club’s Under-21 squad ahead of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.
Only last month, Howe described Fraser, under contract at Newcastle until 2025, as a “valued member of the squad”. Howe added that he’d “love” to see the 28-year-old back in a United shirt.
Fraser even returned to the bench for this month’s game against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium, where he was taunted by home fans unhappy with the manner of his departure.
However, the opportunity to pull on a Newcastle jersey has seemingly gone now, as the Gazette understands that he’s unlikely to return to the first-team squad this season.