Francis fancied as Fry is sacked

Football

Barry Fry's roller-coaster reign as manager of Birmingham City ended in dismissal and a typically quotable parting shot yesterday, 36 hours after an assurance from the co-owner, David Sullivan, that his future was secure.

After his sacking, callers to Fry's home were met with an answerphone message. "Kristine's gone shopping as usual," he said, "and I've gone to the job centre looking for employment. Funny old game, innit?''

Birmingham were already busy drawing up a shortlist of possible successors with a view to an early appointment. Sullivan cited "Premiership quality and a proven track record" as their main criteria. Trevor Francis, idol of St Andrew's 25 years ago, was installed as favourite.

George Graham, whose year-long ban from management ends next month, was Birmingham's first choice. An approach is thought to have been met with a "thanks, but no thanks" from the former Arsenal manager, who may instead re-emerge with Leeds or Chelsea.

Terry Venables also becomes free from his England commitments at the same time, though he may also be setting his sights higher. Apart from Francis, whose pedigree includes third place in the Premier League plus two Wembley finals, realistic candidates include Mike Walker, Chris Nicholl, Steve Coppell and Steve Bruce. Graeme Souness, who has parted company with Galatasaray, could also come into the reckoning.

Fry, 51, paid for a poor second half of a season in which Birmingham stood third in the First Division on Boxing Day. Their final position, 15th, was the club's highest in a decade, but they took one point from the last four games and failed to win away after November.

Sullivan and the joint owners, Ralph and David Gold, complained in the programme for Sunday's defeat by Reading about "gutless" displays. But the Essex-based publisher later told the club phone line: "We'll start next season with Barry Fry as manager unless Barry decides otherwise.''

Changing his tune yesterday, Sullivan said: "It's purely because we want to win promotion next season, and despite Barry's efforts and commitment we didn't think he could take us any further. After three years and 61 players, we think someone else is entitled to have a go." He expected the former Barnet manager to be with "a club like Notts County or Luton" shortly.

In the two and a half years after his defection from Southend to Birmingham, Fry presided over relegation from the First, a Second Division championship and Auto Windscreens Shield double, and a run to the Coca-Cola Cup semi- finals this season. He bought more than 50 players at a cost of over pounds 6m and sold nearly 40 for around pounds 5m.

Fry said last night: "I can't believe it. Nothing surprises me in football but I certainly didn't see this one coming, that's for sure. The amazing thing is that last night I was with two of the club's owners, David and Ralph Gold, at a presentation evening and we were talking until 1am about plans for next season.''

Peter Reid, whose transfer dealings at Sunderland were by financial necessity in stark contrast to Fry's, was yesterday named Manager of the Year by his contemporaries. Reid pipped Alex Ferguson in the annual poll of members of the League Managers' Association. The LMA secretary, John Camkin, said the award was recognition that Reid made "the best use of resources available" in taking Sunderland to the First Division title.

Trevor Phillips, the Association's commercial director, has quit after an apparent disagreement with Lancaster Gate officials over the FA's commercial policy and overall strategy.

Darren Anderton, the Tottenham player, is expected to be named in Terry Venables' England squad today for the match against Hungary on 18 May and the Far East tour .Venables expects to confirm from Peking that the Chinese leg of the tour will go ahead despite his reservations about facilities.

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Life and Style
Men with beards rejoice: Your beard probably doesn't harbour faeces-like bacteria
health
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before