Wednesday, 12 December 2012

All Stars game a massive opportunity, says Butt

All Stars game a massive opportunity, says Butt
Manchester United legend Nicky Butt - now involved in coaching the reserves at Old Trafford - believes next year's All-Stars match in Sydney presents a golden opportunity for Hyundai A-League players to catch the eye of the world's biggest club.

Butt, who scored a goal at the MCG the last time the Red Devils toured Australia 13 years ago, has told that the club's worldwide scouting system has grown dramatically in the intervening years, and the annual pre-season tours provide a genuine shop window for foreign players to impress. In recent years, Manchester United have toured Malaysia, China, South Africa and the US, and the club's second team now incorporates at least eight different nationalities.
''We have scouts all over the world now, whereas in years gone by you didn't, so players were difficult to get hold of,'' Butt says.
''Now we have coaches all over the world looking at junior football. Even in our reserves, where I'm working at the minute, we have players from Chile, Mexico, all over the world. We've broadened our horizons because we realise there's a lot of talent out there.''
So could the All-Stars match in Sydney on July 20 potentially unearth a rough diamond?
''Who knows?'' Butt says. ''The most famous one was the pre-season game against Sporting Lisbon, and a lad by the name of (Cristiano) Ronaldo signed for us four hours later. So it's a good chance for the boys to show how good they are and get the next step into European football, which is where everyone wants to be.''
Butt, who is back at the famous Carrington training ground eight years after leaving to finish his career at Newcastle United, believes playing standards across the world have improved significantly since he broke into the Manchester United first team alongside the golden generation of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, the Neville brothers and Paul Scholes.
Despite the enduring quality of the Manchester United squad, Butt admits the annual pre-season tours have become more of a challenge, and he's expecting the All-Stars side to be decent opposition.
''You definitely notice the improvement,'' he says. ''How much more professional they are, how much better they are technically and physically. In my time, and maybe before my time, you go on these pre-season games and you could tell they weren't professional, they weren't fit.
''But even in my time you could see how fit, how professional, how committed, the guys you are playing against are becoming. It makes it harder, but equally it makes it better, because these are the games you need to get fit, and ready for the start of the season.''
The added competitive edge now provided by teams in so-called lesser countries is something Butt embraces.
''It's good we get challenged in that way,'' he says. ''If we hold back in our tackles, our committment, we get shown up. We're all professionals and we've got our individual pride and we want to go out and win every game.
Obviously it's not as important as winning in the Premier League, but these are massive game to get fit and don't get injured, basically. You walk on the line of caution and you get injured more. So we have to give our all, and I'm sure the lads will do that when they go over there next year.''
Butt admits as a player reporting for pre-season is 'one of those things you don't always look forward to', but he remembers fondly turning up at Carrington in 1999 to be told the team was heading to Australia.
''When they told us we were going to Sydney, believe me we were all very happy,'' he says. ''Some places you go aren't as attractive, but when we realised we were going to that part of the world it was a great rush for us all. They're good memories, Sydney was a great place to visit - great facilities, great city, and the fans came out to support us.''
Butt, famously praised by Pele at the World Cup in Japan three years later, ended up leaving Manchester United in 2004, and despite enjoying six fruitful seasons in Newcastle admits he still wonders whether he might have left too early.
''Right up until I signed the papers for Newcastle - I was flying back from America to do the contracts - even an hour before I was thinking 'are you doing the right thing','' he says. ''But at the time I wasn't playing, I was not getting any younger, I was 30-31, and you don't want to be sitting back at 37 thinking I missed five years of my career sitting on the bench. So it was something I thought I had to do to get my career back on track, and I don't regret it because Newcastle are a great club.
''But having said that, leaving Man United was definitely hard. I'd been there since in was 12 years old, so it was a massive thing to do.''
Now back at the club for his second coming as a coach, Butt is often amazed how much Sir Alex Ferguson has changed the club, and the culture, during his record-breaking tenure.
''First and foremost we're about winning,'' says Butt. ''Before (Ferguson) came we weren't very successful for 25 years. Now he's built a team that's used to winning, a crowd that's used to winning. I'm looking at training out the window now, and I remember when I first came at 12 years of age, it's taken a massive, massive step. We've definitely moved on, and we're not finished yet.''
So is he hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sir Alex one day?
''As a footballer, or a coach, you want to do the best you can, and I'm no different,'' Butt says. ''I've got my badges and I'm starting to work with the club through the reserves. You can't aim higher than that Man United as a player or a coach, so obviously I've got ambitions to go as high as I can. If that takes me here, then great, but if it's somewhere else so be it.''

No comments:

Post a Comment

Get widget