Barry Fry believes West Ham are in for a very bright future on and off the pitch as the Hammers prepare for their big summer move to Stratford. Fry, who spent two-and-a-half years with West Ham’s joint chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan at Birmingham, feels the club is in safe hands with the pair at the helm. In a wide-ranging interview for Blowing Bubbles Monthly, Peterborough United’s Director of Football also feels the claret and blue faithful should be delighted with where the owners have taken the Irons.
‘All the West Ham supporters must be absolutely delighted Gold and Sullivan saved their club and have taken it a stage further than anyone could ever dream. Their business expertise, their passion and commitment for football, and the recruitment they achieved last summer is second-to-none.’ Fry said. A West Ham player Fry is particularly impressed with is Martin Samuelsen. The Norwegian scored against the Posh in pre-season and caught the eye of the former Birmingham boss immediately.
The youngster then joined the London Road club on loan after Fry called in a favour from Sullivan and Gold, and Fry believes the former Manchester City academy graduate could make the vital difference in sealing promotion to the Championship. ‘He has come in and made a real impact, on the training ground he excites everybody, all our players look up to him. He is a genius on the training ground and he takes that onto the field of play and we are delighted to have Martin for the rest of the season,’ Fry continued. ‘I think he is so good, he will be the difference between us getting promotion or not or winning the league or not.’
Fry hopes Peterborough can seal promotion with the Norwegian pulling the strings and believes his impact will help the free-scoring Posh to continue to find the back of the net. He hopes that the Irons will allow the tricky midfielder to continue his development in the Championship, should Graham Westley’s men seal promotion. ‘He is only 18, and he is such a lovely young man, we have a very young team, [and an] exciting team who play football, we are the country’s leading goal-scorers and we’ll get more and more with him in the side.
‘I am hoping he helps us gain promotion, and I can say to David Gold and Sullivan, “let’s have him for another year in the Championship and he’ll be worth £20 million when he gets back to you,” Fry joked. ‘He has got to develop and we will help that development because he is playing week in and week out. ‘No disrespect to West Ham under 21s but nobody ever tackles.
‘He won’t learn anything playing for the under 21s, people will kick him at our level, they’ll push him about and that will help him become a man. Playing at this level, and League One is a good level, will help him both as a man and as a player no end.’ Off the pitch, Fry feels the Hammers are set for an equally enjoyable time, with the club set to move to the Olympic Stadium and with ‘brilliant’ businessmen in Gold and Sullivan, the former Birmingham manager believes the sky’s the limit for the Hammers.
Having spent two-anda-half successful seasons with the Blues under the two Davids, Fry claims that they are the best in business. ‘They are absolutely brilliant, and they back their managers; I don’t think any manager who has ever worked under Gold, Sullivan and [Karren] Brady couldn’t say they didn’t have their total support,’ he explained. The Hammers are set for a busy summer as they prepare to move to Stratford and spending big in the summer with marquee signings rumoured to be arriving. ‘They’re very passionate people but above all they’re very knowledgeable about the game. They can also back their opinion up with statistics, so they really are brilliant; they are football lovers but primarily West Ham lovers.
The arrival of Hammers star man Dimitri Payet backs this up and to get the Frenchman for £10 million sums up their business nous. The signing of the West Ham number 27 has also brought a change in style at the club, and was something that Fry was left impressed by on a recent visit to the Boleyn.
The Hammers now play a brand of football likened to ‘the West Ham way’ and Bilic’s fine free-flowing football left the former Peterborough chairman on the edge of his seat. ‘I know a lot of West Ham fans, and they want to see their team play the right [style of] football and be entertained and they’ve done that.
‘I have been fortunate enough to go to two or three games this season and it’s totally different to last year, it’s very exciting and it gets you on the edge of your seat,’ Fry explained. Ahead of the move to the Olympic Stadium in August this year, Fry has assured the Hammers faithful that they will soon be able to watch their heroes on the cheap claiming Gold, Sullivan and Brady are football people and will want to bring football to the masses in east London.
‘They’ve got a new stadium, which everyone is excited about, nobody likes change, but West Ham fans will be able to go to football on a Saturday and believe me they’ll make it affordable.’ He concluded.
* Barry Fry was speaking to Claret and Hugh on Moore than just a podcast. Listen to more from the team on www. moorethanjustapodcast. co.uk.