BY BOLTING for Bournemouth a matter of months after his brilliant ball trickery became big news way beyond Aberdeen, 19-year-old Ryan Fraser didn’t exactly leave a great impression.
But neither did the club leave the best impression on him. The winger, who has made the Scotland under-21 squad for their campaign-opening qualifier at home to Luxembourg tomorrow, marvels at his career development in the two months since he made a £400,000 move to the promotion-chasing League One club.
“Everything is perfect”, he says, with no regrets “whatsoever” over relocating to a club with money to spend, and a training ground and stadium on which they have elected to spend it. Fraser, it must be said, also benefitting from far more generous contract terms than he was offered at Pittodrie. All of which makes for a very different way of life in the sunny south west than he was used to in the cold north.
“It is brilliant. Eddie Howe, the gaffer, takes me for extra training sessions. At Aberdeen I would never have done extra. Not one day did I do extra. You had to come back in the minbuses and then you got to go under the stand and do like headie tennis. But at Bournemouth the gaffer stays out on the pitches after training, you have keepers still there and you can just do anything. It is brilliant. It is what I was dying to do at Aberdeen, I was dying to do more. When I came down at first to see the club, I looked round the training ground at Bournemouth and thought I could see myself doing extra every day here.”
Cynics might say he needs to do more on the training pitch as the result of having few chances to hone his skills on matchdays. A hip tear immediately following his mid-January move delayed his attempts to force his way into the senior set-up at a club currently fifth in the table, and only a couple of points off the automatic promotion places. Since regaining fitness, he has made five substitute appearances. “The gaffer says I have been doing well and I hope I can get a start soon,” he says. “I see League One as a challenge that will push me. I thought about it when I first came down and I reckoned this is really good club which has got a really good chance of getting promoted to the Championship. And I could be getting a regular game to improve myself.”
Fraser hasn’t suffered any homesickness and until his international call-up had not been back to Scotland since he joined Bournemouth. “I didn’t know I was going to sign at the time and when I did I had to stay down. My mum had to send down my clothes,” he says. With a father who works in the oil industry, the youngster isn’t fazed about having to settle in new surroundings. “I have been travelling all my life,” he says. “I lived abroad when I was younger, Oman in the Middle East, so I have no problems like that, I just want to get on with my football.”
Neither has Fraser any problems with Aberdeen manager Craig Brown, who expressed a sense of hurt at the player jumping at the first offer to leave having made only 21 league start for the club that nurtured him. “I spoke to him and explained it was the best decision for me and I’m glad I made it.”
He had no notion of the subsequent decision that Brown made to retire, with Derek McInnes set take over the reins in the next few days.
“I got a shock,” he says. “I thought they [Brown and assistant Archie Knox] were going to go on for a couple more years. They are ninth now and I hope they can win their next two games and get in the top six. I still want them to do well because I am from Aberdeen.”