Nicky Butt – Player to Manager?
Nicky Butt took some settling down at St James’ Park. In those early days we didn’t see him as a future manager, but then we didn’t really believe Alan Pardew would have us somewhere north of a Europe spot already, especially as he’d played for ten southern clubs and managed four. It takes time to win us over, but if a player or manager does, we’ll support him for as long as he stays with the faith. Bad mouth us and you’ll be off the watch list within a minute.
Famous Players Who Became Managers
You can’t find many former players in recent years who have gone on to be managers, certainly not at the top level. Lee Clark almost took over at Championship side Leicester City, recently, but he’s still number one at Huddersfield Town, keeping them in the top two at present.
Unless you’re new to the club, you’ll remember Glenn Roeder who came back to us as manager after a good period as a player here. He managed to guide us to wins in 45% of his matches, but the uninspired was let down by the uninterested and Glenn became another southerner who spent most of his time playing and managing southern sides. It was inevitable that he’d move on the day after he arrived.
Nicky Butt, though, might be an interesting change on the future management front. After more than a decade at that Manchester club, his six years at Newcastle were varied to say the least, but he left as club captain with a Championship trophy in hand, opening the door to the premiership.
It was probably more the fact of where he moved from than his obvious talent which slowed his progress in the early days. He chose us after refusing a move to Birmingham because he might not have played enough first team football. At the time, one good leg would have guided him into a first eleven start here. Now, he’s back in his home town learning how to get through his coaching badges.
Sir Alex Can Teach Him First
No doubt he’ll learn more from the man we love to hate (but unwillingly respect), Sir Alex Ferguson than the two he played under here, Glenn Roeder and Chris Hughton.
Those following a playing career under Sir Alex with a management role are starting to read like a who’s who gallery – Paul Ince, Steve Bruce, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Mark Hughes, Steve Coppell, Brian Kidd, Gordon Strachen, Ray Wilkins, Lou Macari, Andy Ritchie, Mark Robbins and, more recently celebrating his first Norwegian title, Ole Gunner Solskjaer. Even Michael Appleton has taken on the manager’s role at Portsmouth this week.
Most have been at least relatively successful except for Bryan Robson. Most could have been at our door if the circumstances had been right and we’d have accepted them with open arms.
The good news is that while Manchester United has a list of former players waiting for Sir Alex’s retirement interview, Nicky Butt will have to take his time managing lower down the leagues and then he might just be ready for us. Previous captains Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer have found some time to manage us for a few games, so why not Nicky Butt?
Quiet Lad, Ready for the Role
He’s a quiet lad who enjoyed playing and living in the area. It’s not all that far from Manchester if he must go home and visit his family on non-match days. His captaincy was one of the high spots over the past few years until premiership glory. His work rate was always 100%, even if we did have a go at him when he first joined us. Looking back and to be fair, he was injured a lot that first season.
Training at Carrington won’t do him any harm and the more time he spends learning rather than jumping into a quality role, the better for all his future clubs.
We often forget he was capped by England 40 times when it was considered a privilege to play for the country side, unlike nowadays when anyone appears to gain few caps just for being English. Nicky Butt might look at taking on the England role after a spell at St James’. He might well be the next English England manager…
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