Butterworth - Survival's got to be first goal
Matthew Chambers Newly-installed Norwich City No 2 Ian Butterworth today spoke for the first time about his desire to bring back the glory days to Carrow Road - but his first priority is to help ensure the club's Championship survival.
Newly-installed Norwich City No 2 Ian Butterworth today spoke for the first time about his desire to bring back the glory days to Carrow Road - but his first priority is to help ensure the club's Championship survival.
The former centre-back and team captain experienced plenty of highs as a Norwich player - most notably leading the Canaries to third place in the FA Premier League and a two-leg UEFA Cup victory over Bayern Munich - and now aims to give the Canary faithful something to cheer about once more.
“Yes, it's fantastic opportunity. I'm thriving on the adrenalin. It's an honour and privilege to work at the football club. I think a lot of the football club,” said Butterworth, who was pitch-side for Tuesday night's nail-biting 3-3 draw at Wolves following his long-anticipated switch from Hartlepool.
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“There are some good people down there and great opportunities. When Bryan Gunn was appointed he gave me a call, we talked about a few things, I didn't hesitate.”
Butterworth is delighted to be part of Gunn's managerial dream team, especially after having applied for the top job himself, but insists it's not about the fab four and the focus must be on preventing City slipping into the third tier of English football for the first time in 49 years.
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“Hopefully we can bring back the good times but survival is our aim - that's our first remit,” said Butterworth, who made 293 appearances in seven and a half years with the Canaries. “Unfortunately there is a bit of a dogfight down there. I don't like saying that but there is. We've got to make sure we make an instant impact and this club can climb away from it.”
One of the ways Butterworth aims to help keep Norwich on an upward curve, having been undefeated in four games since Gunn took charge, is to make them much harder to break down. The 45-year-old saw exactly what needs improving after the Canaries conceded two sloppy goals at Championship leaders Wolves, which took the total to six in the last three games.
He said: “We've got to be more difficult to beat all around the pitch, not just the back four and the 'keeper. It's a collective thing. Everybody has got responsibilities when that ball turns over. Everybody's got a job to do and we've got to be more difficult to beat. It's that simple.”
But Butterworth is confident that the Canaries can stave off relegation, especially after Gunn was placed in charge and the immediate effect his appointment appears to have had on the mood in the camp.
“Since Bryan's been in, there's been a spark. To be fair, sometimes it's just like that, you need something different to get you on a bit of a roll. I was there on Tuesday night and at the Doncaster game, and the lads have shown great commitment and enthusiasm and that's something that I'm very enthusiastic about.
“We'll take all the pressure. We want the players to play with freedom and to know their jobs and we've provided a positive environment for them to blossom. We'll take all the flak and then we'll get all the stick. I'm not bothered about that.”
Butterworth has plenty of experience as a No 2 having been assistant to Dave Hodgson as they led Darlington to a Wembley appearance in the Division Three play-off final in 1999-2000.
Butterworth was appointed assistant to Alan Cork at Cardiff City in 2000, having resigned from Darlington, and he was Lennie Lawrence's right-hand man as the Bluebirds gained promotion to Division One - now the Championship - in 2003.
It's this kind of experience that he hopes to call upon again to good effect and he believes he can be the perfect foil to Gunn's mild-mannered approach.
He said: “Bryan will lean on myself, Ian (Crook) and John (Deehan), that's what we're there for. But why shouldn't Bryan manage the football club? He knows the football club inside out, he knows the people. He's done a great job so far.
“I've got a lot of respect for Bryan Gunn. We were mates when we played and that's a big thing as we both respect each other. It'll take a lot shorter time for everyone to settle down than it might otherwise have done.
“To be fair, Bryan's not intense. I can be quite intense, I'm very strong-minded. I can be the bad cop, I can be that role, but we need to man manage the players really well and I think he does that very well, I think I do and I think Ian Crook does as well.”
Butterworth, whose his top-class career was suddenly brought to a halt by a serious knee injury, later reported to have been the result of a water sports accident, added: “It's a great opportunity but it's about helping this football club to survive and getting the fans behind the team again and being a success. I don't know how long that will be. It might take six months, it might take nine months, it might take two years. But we've got some dedicated people who are working for him, who will be working their butts off. Any coach and manager needs a little bit of luck as well.”
Butterworth managed to have a small say on who was brought in during the transfer window because of the limited timescale following his appointment and the closure of the January window.
He said: “I've got very good knowledge in the country from the second, first and Championship. I know a lot of players and obviously I've given Bryan some recommendations. One or two players have let us down, some quite big names but that happens for various reasons but we're happy with the players we've got in and I look forward to working with them.”
Butterworth is certainly looking forward to his return to Carrow Road for Saturday's clash against Bristol City and had one simple message for the fans: “The fans are absolutely fantastic. I can't believe there are 25,000 people there every week and we're seventh from bottom. It's unbelievable. They have just got to keep getting behind us and hopefully we can get some consistent performances and climb the table. It's all about players and we've got to give them that positive vibe.”