• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Depressing tale of two Frasers

PITTODRIE, on any afternoon, save the occasional match day, replicates the atmosphere of a Trappist monastery.

Friday was no ordinary afternoon, however. The silence was shattered as Ryan Fraser became the subject of fevered attention in the referees' room.

This is where managerial hombres occasionally communicate their paranoia to generally implacable officials. It's where people are afflicted by the "we wuz robbed" condition.

In this case, Craig Brown and his assistant Archie Knox might have argued with justification that another felony was imminent.

Earlier that day, Fraser (out of contract next summer) had decided his future lay somewhere else. He'd delivered his decision to Duncan Fraser, the Porsche-driving, some say ego-driven, chief executive of Aberdeen FC.

This unpalatable news of the club missing out on yet another potentially significant pay day filtered down to the two (old) men who really matter at Pittodrie. Kindly note that, on a modest budget, Brown and Knox have worked assiduously these last two years in restoring respectability to an arguably lost cause.

The dialogue in that referees' room, then, went approximately thus: "Rysie, why don't you reconsider? Just sign the contract and we'll help your career develop. We know all the right people. If at any time you want to leave, I'll phone Alex Ferguson and see if he wants you. If he doesn't, Archie will get on to Brian Kidd at Manchester City. If that's not on, I'll contact Rafa Benitez at Chelsea and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, etc, etc."

Brown, if guilty of some hyperbole, poured 35 years of managerial nous into his argument. His assistant Archie Knox's delivery was more robust: he pointed out that the 18-year-old was scarcely out of diapers and that the learning curve was more important than monetary considerations.

Alas, the admittedly desperate dialogue was too late. It would have needed the diplomatic skills of Ban Ki Moon to effect a teenage turnaround. Brown claimed the Dublin-based Platinum One agency had made their client word-perfect in the art of stonewalling. Rysie was not for turning in spite of the good cop-bad cop schtick. It wasn't about money, he insisted. It was about personal advancement and training in better facilities. He had a point there. This is the year 2012 and, training-wise, Aberdeen are stuck in the primitive past.

You might ask yourself about Fraser's responsibility to loyalty. Only a few weeks ago, in his first major interview, he told me he believed implicitly in such a thing. But all that seemed to dissipate in that referees' room, even when Brown insisted: "Remember, you're allowed to change your mind."

Please, whatever you do, don't blame the kid. His is a young and impressionable mind and it somehow has been diverted from an approach that would have embraced common sense.

Now, to be strictly fair, I understand the club did all in their fiscal powers to keep him, including doubling his basic wage. He was also promised a healthy percentage of any sell-on fee.

So, where did it go wrong? Let's turn to the other Fraser and consider his chief executive's role. He was charged with delivering a new deal to the brilliant teenager, just like he was charged with delivering new contracts to other embryonic talents like Jack Grimmer and Fraser Fyvie. It could be said he has failed rather spectacularly.

Months ago, local journalists began to suspect that negotiations didn't seem to be developing with any great despatch. When they inquired, they were informed that Duncan Fraser was busy with other projects. What other projects were more important than keeping your most energising talent at Pittodrie?

Of course, there's no guarantee that early negotiations would have changed the course of events. But as far back as August, any fan with perspicacity could see he was the future of the club. Negotiations should have begun immediately.

So where does this leave Aberdeen now? Ironically, this comes just when the team look capable of rising above mediocrity. Crowds have tumbled, the prospective new stadium has assumed almost pipe-dream status, the youth programme is severely flawed, and, incidentally, the PR system needs restructuring. Can you believe they held their press day at 9.30am on Friday, knowing that the Fraser news, good or bad, would break at lunchtime?

Someone should take this club by the scruff of the neck and shake it until the pips begin squeaking. But it may be already too late.

Contextual targeting label: 
Careers and Jobs

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

129778