Charlton Athletic’s Scott Fraser on Ben Garner, Manchester United and the Addicks’ rising stars

6 min

Playing under three different managers, being part of dramatic comebacks and facing Manchester United – it’s safe to say Scott Fraser’s fledging Charlton Athletic career has been nothing short of eventful.

Joining on the final day of last year’s January transfer window, the 28-year-old has been a key figure in Charlton’s recent revival under new boss Dean Holden.

Shortlisted for League One’s Player of the Month award in January, Fraser is now operating in the left of midfield, his favoured position, where he has the freedom to push forward and get in amongst the goals.

“I wouldn’t say I wasn’t playing well under the previous manager, it’s more that I was asked to do a different job in a flat 4-4-2,” Fraser said, speaking exclusively to London Football Scene.

“If you look at the start of the season, I had two or three goals in the first six or seven games, so I’ve been happy with my output.

“But the new manager (Holden) has come in, and we’ve had a good chat and agreed I’m better further up the pitch.”

Holden replaced Ben Garner, who left the club in December after just six months at the helm – a departure that Fraser regrets after buying into his footballing ethos.

“Losing a manager is never good and it’s always more often than not when the team’s not doing well,” Fraser added.

“I got on really well with Ben (Garner), he was a very good coach and when I go into coaching in the future, I’d like to see the game played in a similar position-orientated attacking way.”

Nevertheless, it is hard to ignore the impact of Holden as Charlton have lost just once in their last seven league outings, placing themselves comfortably in mid-table as opposed to looking over their shoulders and fearing the prospects of a relegation dogfight.

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“He’s a really good man manager,” Fraser remarked. “I’ve obviously been fortunate to play, but you wouldn’t be able to tell which boys haven’t – he’s very good at that side of the game.

“He had to come in when we weren’t doing so well but he’s done brilliantly to adapt us in certain ways without a pre-season or transfer window under his belt.

“Once he gets his own players in, I think we will be able to see what we can really do.”

The upturn in fortunes has coincided with the Addicks also rediscovering their attacking impetus, scoring six at home to Shrewsbury, four away at Morecambe and edging out Burton in a 3-2 thriller on Easter Monday.

Earlier in the campaign there was an emphatic 5-1 win over high-flying Plymouth and two stoppage time goals salvaged a 4-4 home draw against promotion-chasing Ipswich Town.

In contrast, there were disappointing defeats to Cheltenham and Oxford with Fraser believing this sort of inconsistency has led to the side failing to mount a concerted promotion push this term.

“We would go on a run where we wouldn’t win in six or seven and then we would go unbeaten in four or five – it’s been the story of our season.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries and our squad isn’t the biggest but even so, the best teams at the top of the table flip that around. They might not win for two games but they’ll always bounce back quickly.

“I don’t think we’re miles away though; it’s just that final bit of quality and thankfully over the past few games we’ve managed to improve that side of things.”

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One bright spot in an otherwise frustrating season was Charlton’s Carabao Cup run – taking them all the way to the Quarter-Finals and a showdown with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Although the Addicks may have lost 3-0 on the night, the side gained much credit for the way they battled throughout with the result only confirmed by two injury-time strikes from substitute Marcus Rashford following Antony’s 21st minute opener.

“The scoreline was extremely harsh. Anyone watching the game would’ve seen how well we played and the fact they had to bring on (Marcus) Rashford and Casemiro just shows how well we were doing.”

“Personally, I’m a big fan of the likes of Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes – I even managed to get Eriksen’s shirt after the game!”

It was an experience that not only Fraser relished but one that could prove invaluable to Charlton’s cohort of talented youngsters led by Academy graduate Miles Leaburn and on-loan Crystal Palace forward Jesurun Rak-Sakyi.

“Jes (Rak-Sakyi) can do anything he wants – he’s that good,” Fraser said. “I was surprised that no-one higher up tried to take him in January.

“I think staying here for the full season was the right thing to do though and he’s a special, special kid.

“I don’t think anybody could have foreseen just how well it’s gone for Miles (Leaburn) in his first full season either. He’s done really well.”

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With out-and-out winger Tyreece Campbell also emerging from the Academy and tipped for greatness by Fraser, the future’s looking bright for Charlton if they can keep hold of their rising stars. 

And with Fraser having a deal in place until the summer of 2025, there’s only one thing on the Scot’s mind next season, “The aim has to be promotion, I don’t think Charlton are a League One football club.

“We need to make sure next season we get the right recruitment done, and the manager is backed because under this manager, if he is given the tools he needs, we can be successful.”

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