Togetherness is the key - Butterworth

PUBLISHED: 18:54 07 February 2009 | UPDATED: 16:04 10 September 2010

David Cuffley

The ringtone on Ian Butterworth's mobile phone is an unmistakable spaghetti western theme.

He was in mid-interview at Colney yesterday when the conversation was interrupted by the familiar opening strain of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

The ringtone on Ian Butterworth's mobile phone is an unmistakable spaghetti western theme.

He was in mid-interview at Colney yesterday when the conversation was interrupted by the familiar opening strain of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

One would not be so unkind as to use it as a label for Norwich City's new management trio.

But Butterworth, Bryan Gunn's new assistant manager, insisted on his return to the club this week that he can play the bad guy if the role demands it.

"I can be quite intense, I'm very strong-minded," said the 45-year-old former central defender. "I can be the bad cop, I can be that role."

Meeting Butterworth again nearly 15 years after his last match for the Canaries, one would take some convincing of that.

It is hard to imagine the red mist descending and transforming him into a ranting and raving figure on the touchline.

He appears every bit as affable and good-humoured as in his time at Carrow Road, when as an unflappable and underrated centre-back, he made 293 appearances in eight years, and his dedication to fitness and his physique earned him the nickname Spartacus.

Butterworth took his place in the dug-out for the first time for Tuesday night's thrilling 3-3 draw at Wolves, and after today's visit of Bristol City, he can hardly wait to get a full week's training under way.

"Since I came it's been stop-start with the training so it will be good to get them on the training field, myself and Ian Crook," he said.

"We need to get them into a system how we want them to play and I hope it will be beneficial to the team.

"It's going to be hard work but players like to be worked hard. They like to be led."

Despite City's precarious position in the Championship, Butterworth admits he has been impressed with the quality of the squad and the fighting spirit shown at Molineux.

He said: "There are areas we've identified that need strengthening, but the main thing is the lads show enthusiasm and commitment like they did the other night.

"As long as the lads are enjoying their football and the spirit is good - and that's been created since Bryan's taken over.

"We've got to provide a positive environment for them to blossom. We've got to prepare them right and hopefully they can express themselves.

"It wasn't pleasing, a couple of the goals we conceded at Wolves, but they were mistakes, that's football. But the commitment and the drive coming back from 3-2 was excellent and the lads need that every single game to the end of the season.

"A couple more wins would give us a bit of breathing space. It's going to be tight, it's going to be tough. There are a few other teams down there who could be dragged into it as well, but we want to make sure we can climb away."

As a former defender, Butterworth has a special interest in improving the performance of the back five, but he argues that defending starts in the opposition's half.

"It's a collective thing, defending. It's all right just to pin it on the back four and the goalkeeper.

"We've all got to be aware when possession turns over of what our role and job is.

"There are other areas in the team where we're loose a little bit. We've got to tighten up all round.

"If we're harder to beat, I think there are goals in the team, because we produce chances. We've just got to make sure we keep the back door shut a few more times.

"There have not been many clean sheets this season, only about four or five, so that needs to be addressed. If we're going to be successful and climb the table, we've got to stop them at that end."

City scored three at Molinuex and perhaps should have had five or six - an encouraging sign for the new number two.

"It's about what we do with the ball as well and I've been impressed with a lot of the players," he said.

"We scored three goals away at the league leaders.

"I don't think many teams will take away four points from a team like Wolves, simple as that."

Butterworth believes unity in the squad was a key element of successful City teams in which he played, teams that finished fifth, fourth and third in the top flight, took the club into Europe for the first time and reached two FA Cup semi-finals.

He said: "Togetherness is the key element in any successful team. If you're not working well together it's a pain coming in each morning, if everyone isn't pulling in the same direction.

"They showed great togetherness the other night and that's got to continue. We want them coming through the training gates smiling, looking forward to training and giving 101 per cent to Norwich City Football Club.

"Of course it's difficult because 22 doesn't go into 11.

"It's a squad game. Some people were left out last week, some were in this week. That's football.

"The big thing is, people don't sulk, it's explained to them why they're not playing and they have to respond in training so that when they get the chance again, they keep in.

"All you can ask is that you have the enthusiasm and passion and workrate and drive from players.

"How you prepare them for that, Monday to Friday, everyone's got their different ways of doing it. We're looking for character and people who want to play for this football club."

With home attendances around the 25,000 mark, consistently close to capacity, one could argue that a club such as Norwich should not be hovering around the bottom six of the Championship.

"We don't want to let the fans down, they've been superb all season. Looking from afar, looking at the gates, they have been fantastic for a team that's struggling at the bottom and that's credit to them," said Butterworth - but he believes the table does not lie.

"Leicester, Leeds and Nottingham Forest have all said that, some of them bigger clubs than Norwich. They've been battling in League One. I've been in League One the last couple of years with my ex-club and I've seen these big clubs.

"You've no divine right, you'll be judged over 46 games."

The success of his reunion with former team-mates Gunn and Crook and former coach and manager John Deehan will go a long way to determining just where City finish after those 46 games.

"We've had a few chats and we're all on the same wavelength and it's fantastic to work with all three of them," said Butterworth.

"If it had been any other club I wouldn't have come back. I've got a lot of respect for Bryan.

" We all seem to get on, we've all got ideas but we're on the same wavelength and all we want to do is make sure we produce a winning side."

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