Norwich City’s continental path can bear fruit – so says their former captain Ian Butterworth, who is doing likewise for Premier League Burnley
Norwich City’s continental approach has got every chance of success – so says the former Canaries captain now charged with broadening the horizons of Premier League Burnley.
City Hall of Famer Ian Butterworth was appointed the Clarets’ new head of European recruitment earlier in the summer.
And the man who helped Norwich take on the best in the Premier League and Uefa Cup back in the early 1990s hopes his former club’s new approach – through sporting director Stuart Webber and head coach Daniel Farke – will reap rewards.
“I know Stuart a little bit and they’ve gone down a very different avenue, haven’t they? First foreign manager. It’ll be interesting to see how that works, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t,” said Butterworth.
“Every signing is a gamble whether you’re paying £80m or £1m. You just don’t know how players are going to react in a new environment.
“They’ve had foreign players before and if you’re going to compete at the top level, you’ve got to look in Europe. You can’t ignore that any more. Obviously you need to do your due diligence a little bit more because you’ve got to make sure they are what they are, and they’re a good fit for your team and environment.
“Norwich have gone that way, it’s different, so let’s hope it works out because they have got everything geared up for Premier League football – the stadium and training ground, they’ve been in there and sampled it all before.
“They will be one of about 15 clubs thinking they should be back, though. It’s a competitive league. Good luck to Stuart and everyone there.
“And I’d imagine there will be a few German players coming over, because the first thing managers and owners will do is raid the markets they know.”
That has already happened to a degree at Norwich with Mario Vrancic joining from relegated Bundesliga side Darmstadt – and more will follow from the German leagues.
It was also a market Webber and Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner did so well to utilise last summer, ahead of the Terriers booking their remarkable top-flight return come August.
Butterworth added: “There are lots of good players in Europe and lots of them want to come to the Premier League or top of the Championship because of the wages. They are great places to play football.
“Huddersfield brought a German coach in and five German players. Now, those German players were no better than English players I can tell you that. But it was possibly the sum of the parts. He built a superb environment and spirit there, and once you’ve got that you can drag average players to the next level.
“And obviously they were cheaper than the players of similar quality in England. If you look at the average wage in 2 Bundesliga, they’re on £5,000 per week or less. Then in the Championship there’s a huge scale of players on up to £70,000 who have come down from the Premier League, to those on £4,000 per week at the likes of Bolton or Rotherham.
“The manager knew the players and thought they could cope with the Championship, and he was spot on in his judgement.
“But if you’d have said to me Christopher Schindler was any better than anyone else, I’d have just said no he’s not.
“I don’t know much about Daniel Farke but he’s got a good reputation from the people I know in Germany.
“The thing is the Norwich fans are getting louder and louder. They’re more vicious probably then when we played! They’re adamant they want to see their side back in the Premier League, so like most football clubs he’ll need a good start. It’s a tough, tough league but hopefully it works out.”
Having spent more than three seasons as chief scout at Queens Park Rangers, as well as opposition scouting for England managers Stuart Pearce, Sven Goran Eriksson and Roy Hodgson, Butterworth will have plenty to keep him occupied at Burnley as they look to finally establish themselves in the Premier League.
But the former defender is happy to have rebuilt a career away from management and coaching, after enduring such a ruthless time in the dugout back at Carrow Road in 2009.
“I’ve not looked back,” he added. “I’ve travelled extensively around Europe and England, I know where players are, I’ve mixed with directors of football, presidents, owners, I’ve got a lot of connections in the game.
“I’ve had other opportunities but this one came up and I just fancied a change, so I’ve taken it.
“Burnley are a good, solid club with a very good manager in Sean Dyche, and he’s done really well. He gets the best out of his players and they are a club progressing very slowly but surely.
“They’ve got a brand new training ground they’ve been in for only two months. They’ve got good people behind the scenes, a bit like Norwich – local businessmen who have done good. And they don’t make too many bad decisions it seems.
“They want to branch out into Europe and get some players because those in England, it’s ridiculous the market values that you’re paying for.
“Burnley are trying to establish themselves in the Premier League and to do that, you’ve got to be at it every year, spend the right amount of money, have good leadership. They are trying to progress and here I am.”