FOOTBALL: THAT WAS THE WEEKEND THAT WAS
Monday 03 February 1997
Having been written off as being several players short of a full squad during his extraordinary reign as Birmingham City manager, the irrepressible Barry Fry could not resist a chortle when news of Gary Breen's move to Coventry filtered through to his new crisis centre at Peterborough.
Breen, who made an impressive debut at the heart of Gordon Strachan's defence in the goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday, cost Fry a mere pounds 250,000 when he arrived at St Andrew's a year ago - a tenth of the price that Strachan agreed to pay in a deal Trevor Francis insisted he could not refuse.
Fry was ridiculed for his policy of bringing in new players almost by the coachload, forcing so many changes on his line-up that no fewer than 46 players turned out in first team games during his final season in charge.
Thanks to Fry's expert eye for a bargain, however, Birmingham are cashing in handsomely.
The sale of Breen brought to a cool pounds 6.7m the proceeds of four basement buys. Coventry paid pounds 1.4m for Liam Daish, bought by Fry for a mere pounds 50,000, while his pounds 160,000 purchase of Jose Dominguez realised a pounds 1.24m profit when the Portuguese striker moved on to Sporting Lisbon. And Leicester paid pounds 1.2m for Steve Claridge, imported by Fry at a knock-down pounds 350,000.
Informed of these figures, Fry's response was in character. "It's not a bad record for what some people called a poxy manager."
What's more, he can claim to have had possibly the last laugh among last laughs. When he bought Breen for Birmingham he allowed the selling club 10 per cent of any sell-on fee. That club, of course, was Peterborough.
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