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Opinion

Newcastle United signing is still failing the Michael Owen test

4 weeks ago
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The Michael Owen test still stands.

Ryan Fraser is still failing it and always will.

The Newcastle United summer signing needs to stop feeding the media, get his head down and only focus on the future.

Michael Owen arrived at St James Park in 2005, Newcastle fans experienced four years of a player on ridiculous wages (£110.000 per week, very ridiculous compared to what he gave back), who was always putting England first and Newcastle United…well, who knows, maybe a distant third after his racehorses.

What really did it for Newcastle fans though, was when Paul Ferris confirmed what we had all believed happened with Michael Owen in his final days at St James Park. With Newcastle United desperately fighting a relegation battle in 2009, as Newcastle captain(!!!), Ferris (who Alan Shearer had brought in as an assistant for the final eight games) said that Michael Owen said he wasn’t keen on playing in the final matches because if he got injured, it would affect his chances of getting the best possible club / deal when he left as a free agent.

Moving forward 15 years and on Wednesday 9 September 2020, Newcastle’s new signing Ryan Fraser as reported by BBC Sport:

“Obviously I made the decision not to play [for Bournemouth after Premier League restart] and got battered for it.

“Everyone has got their opinions but, at the end of the day, I need to look after myself.”

Ryan Fraser joined Bournemouth in 2013, earned fortunes playing for them and became a Premier League level player, and claims he was ‘gutted’ when the Cherries were relegated.

A couple of weeks later, the subject has reared its head yet again, Ryan Fraser interviewed by The Times:

“The last year? I didn’t think it would be so hard.

“Did I do anything wrong? I don’t think I did.

“I’ll give 100 per cent to my team-mates at Newcastle, to the fans and to the badge. That’s the way I was brought up.”

Simon Jordan and Talksport have been loving this already, with Jordan launching at least two (verbal) attacks on Ryan Fraser regarding his conduct and character, for the shameful way he acted at Bournemouth.

Now with Ryan Fraser feeding the Talksport monster yet again, they are back for more.

This time Tony Cascarino laying into Ryan Fraser on Talksport after the Newcastle winger made those new claims that he didn’t do anything wrong at Bournemouth:

“I think it’s just a really easy excuse to say, ‘Oh, well someone could get injured’.

“The risk of getting a very serious injury is very, very low risk.

“Incredibly low risk.

“It can happen but it’s ifs and maybes in life. Things can happen.

“When players start throwing out the old…‘do you know what, that terrible injury that I might have got’, that is really the glass half empty.

“To me, you could have played, you could have been the player who kept them up.

“You could have been a hero and left and shared all the experiences of being in the trenches with your teammates, your colleagues who you shared so much with.

“[but instead] You let them down.

“It is not just about him [Ryan Fraser].

“He could have kept Bournemouth up and that really frustrates me about that mentality.

“To me, Ryan Fraser chose his option at the start of last season [to run down his contract and leave for nothing, in order to get bigger wages at his next club].

“He might as well have gone to Bournemouth and Eddie Howe and said, ‘Let me go now, otherwise I ain’t going to do a tad for you this year’.”

We know what Talksport are like, they absolutely feed on stuff like this.

However, that is a different question / subject to the one where you ask, did Ryan Fraser act in the right way that last year at Bournemouth?

As a Newcastle fan, if you think yes, then you will be also believing that Michael Owen did nothing wrong at Newcastle United.

That looking after number one justifies anything, no matter how it negatively affects others.

Ryan Fraser can never win this Bournemouth argument, he acted badly and if asked about it in the future, just needs to say that the past is the past and he is looking to the future etc etc.

In this latest interview in The Times, Ryan Fraser states: ‘I’ll give 100 per cent to my team-mates at Newcastle, to the fans and to the badge. That’s the way I was brought up.’

However, when at the same time alongside that he is still claiming he did nothing wrong at Bournemouth, it comes over as laughable. People will instantly say, Ryan Fraser claims he will give 100% to Newcastle, but how can we believe that when he still claims he did absolutely nothing wrong at Bournemouth.

Indeed, back on 30 January 2020, Ryan Fraser admitted to BBC Radio Solent that he hadn’t been giving 100% to Bournemouth and promised to put that right:

“I felt bad about it, this last month I’ve been trying to put it right.

“I didn’t play for the team. I’m honest enough to admit that.

“I look back at it. I spoke to my family about it and it just looked bad on me. I didn’t help the team.

“All I can really say is that, for the next six months, I’ll give everything for the club,

“I’ve just talked about the last four months. That won’t be happening again. I can give everything, I can track back, I can try to get my assists and goals to help the club get to where it should be in the Premier League.

“I’ll fight for club, I’ll fight for the badge, I’ll fight for my team-mates, I’ll fight for the manager and fans.”

After saying he would give everything to Bournemouth on 30 January 2020, Ryan Fraser scored no goals and got only one more assist. He ran his contract down so he could leave as a free agent and get the best possible wages at his next club (Newcastle United), refused to sign a short-term deal after Premier League restart and watched on as Bournemouth were relegated.

I really hope Ryan Fraser is a massive success at Newcastle United and I really hope he does indeed give his all to NUFC.

However, I think this has often been the same with other players in the past, when they cynically run their contracts down so they can leave as free agents and get far more money for themselves at their next club, their form massively deteriorates in the final year or so at the club they are leaving, then it is a huge struggle to then get out of that malaise when they do sign on as a free agent on enhanced wages / signing on fee at their new club.

Sadly, plenty other players have also done what Ryan Fraser did, cynically ran their contracts down and / or refused to sign a short-term contract after PL restart this summer.

They all say they have done nothing wrong and only looking after themselves but surely that is the whole point! They can’t have it both ways, you can’t claim to love the club that have paid you massive amounts of money for years and expect any respect off fans, whilst at the same time be putting earning extra cash over and above loyalty and doing the right thing.

Ryan Fraser has failed the Michael Owen test (or should that be he has passed it…?), he refused to do the right thing and instead prioritised more money for himself.

We can’t point out how disgracefully Michael Owen acted and then not accept that Ryan Fraser is no different. People will say it is just the way football is these days but that doesn’t mean anybody has to like it or accept it.

Due to the choices Ryan Fraser has made, they have led to him only scoring one Premier League goal in the past 17 months and playing absolutely no football for the six months before joining Newcastle, nor having any pre-season with a club.

Steve Bruce has admitted he is having to take it slowly with Ryan Fraser because of those months leading up to the winger signing for Newcastle United.

If he can get back to that stand out form of 2018/19 when scoring seven and getting fourteen Premier League assists, then Ryan Fraser will be a great asset to Newcastle.

However, to do that, Fraser needs to get himself right both physically and mentally.

He needs to draw a line under the past and stop talking about it in interviews and claiming he did nothing wrong with Bournemouth.

Newcastle fans will speak as they find and so long as he does right by us, we will respond in kind.

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