Ray's Back To Work

Ray Stewart returned to football as Forfar Athletic boss today - but reveals he is not planning a raid on Upton Park!

'Tonka' takes over from Neil Cooper, who has joined Aberdeen as a coach after two years at Station Park, and he has signed a two year contract.

"It is a different challenge to what Glenn Roeder has," he says "but I am sure he can keep it going because the spirit seems to be there - and maybe we will get the reprieve of survival," he says.

"I don't think I could afford any of his players but if he wants to give me a freebie he is welcome!"

Ray, who made 345 league appearances for the Hammers, was previously boss of Stirling Albion and, prior to that, he helped Livingston through the lower divisions before their current manager Jim Leishman got them promotion to the Scottish Premier League.

"I have been out of work for seven months but keeping my hand in to go and watch games," he says.

"There is nothing better than being your own man and being manager of Forfar Athletic means somebody wants you again.

"It is very important to get back to work because once you are 'on the shelf' in football people forget about you - so to be appointed this morning delights me."

Indeed it is a far cry from the hot seat at his beloved Upton Park, and, explaining a little of what he has let himself in for, he says: "They are situated very well in the middle of the league, five or six points from the bottom, but in my mind four or five points from the top, so I'm being positive about the whole thing.

"The crowds are about a couple of thousand with a hard core of a thousand, and it is a family club where everyone seems to be pulling in the same direction.

"Hopefully I can go in there and continue the success they have had in the last four or five weeks - they are on a winning streak and I don't want to change that.

"I am just delighted it is a decent squad which will give me a bit of time on my side to try and analyse what I need and don't need."

All in all, then, a very different kind of pressure to that which Glenn is going through - but Ray is backing him all the way.

"I think Glenn has got a good chance and signing Lee Bowyer will change one or two things," he insists.

"I am disappointed by the result they got on Saturday, but I am sure they will see a big lift from Lee coming - and hopefully they can go on and get the points they need.

"I think he is a great signing; Glenn has done brilliant to get him - everyone has a 'bad' side but he is there to be a football player for West Ham United, and I am sure he will carry that out admirably."

And will he appoint Frank McAvennie, his old pal from the famous squad of 1985-86, to be his assistant?

"He will be the social secretary to organise my nights out but I haven't decided anything else yet," he smiles.