It looks like former Manchester United and Newcastle United midfielder Nicky Butt will be rooting for Chris Hughton at Old Trafford tomorrow night, in the season opener for both Uniteds.
Nicky Butt – celebrating promotion with his son and daughter
And in an interview in The People today he hopes Newcastle owner Mike Ashley will be supportive of Chris during this coming season.
The former Manchester United star feels that Chris Hughton deserves the post of Newcastle manager, after guiding the Magpies so brilliantly last season to the Championship title at their very first attempt.
But with split loyalties and with a foot in each camp, the 35-year-old admits that his loyalties may be torn tomorrow night. But whatever happens, Nicky, who was Chris’ Newcastle captain last season and made 20 appearances for the Magpies, thinks that Hughton is definitely the right man for the job.
“Chris did a great job in getting them back into the big time so I really hope the club remembers that when things get tough, as they are bound to do at some point,”
“You’d like to think he would get the backing of the owner, the board and the crowd if they hit a bad patch. But supporters and owners can be fickle so you never know.”
“The expectation at St James’ Park is always sky high, but I hope Mike Ashley and the fans stay realistic because the main aim is to stay in the Premier League.”
“It’s going to take time and money to rebuild the team. It’s not going to happen quickly.” “This time last year there were occasions when Chris, Colin Calderwood and the rest of the staff didn’t know whether they were coming or going. ”
“They didn’t know whether they would be there two days, two weeks or two years and I felt really sorry for Chris and his coaches.” “There was a lot of trauma in the way the club got relegated, there was upheaval.”
“And to be honest it was on the cards for Newcastle to have a bad season. But the draw at West Brom on the opening day gave everyone a boost and we never looked back.”
“This will be a different type of season and it won’t be as easy to win games. Last season some teams came to St James’ Park beaten before they stepped out in the same way some teams crumble when they go to Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge. ”
“That won’t happen this time, it’ll be a lot tougher even at home.”
Butt had a great 12 years at Old Trafford and when he decided to move on in the summer of 2004, when Bobby Robson was Newcastle manager, he said he only wanted to join the Newcastle club.
“When I was leaving I had a few choices but I only wanted to go to Newcastle.” < “And although I had some tough times at Newcastle with injuries, my form and the fans, there are no regrets – none at all.”
“United will always have a massive place in my heart but Newcastle has a strong place in there too and that’s why I hope the game ends in a draw on Monday.”
Newcastle are a favorites with the bookies to be relegated this season (wrong again), although that may change if Chris can manage to bring in three good players before the end of August.
But Butt believes the Newcastle side can surprise quite a few people this season as he continued:
“I think staying up is achievable with the players they have.
“Players like Kevin Nolan, Alan Smith, Sol Campbell, Joey Barton, Jonas Gutierrez and Steve Harper all have Premier League experience and they also have youngsters like Andy Carroll, Danny Guthrie and Dan Gosling, so they have a decent team.
“If they get a couple more quality players before the transfer window closes they could do OK. But playing United on their return to the Premier League couldn’t be tougher.
“I remember getting a draw at Old Trafford on the opening day when Kevin Keegan was manager and I’m sure the fans would settle for that this time. But United will want to get a flying start themselves and they have so much quality in the team.”
“With Valencia and Nani on the flanks they have a lot of pace and there are plenty of striking options so it’ll be hard for Newcastle.”
Butt seems not too bothered about continuing with his football career, and after taking a month vacation relaxing in Portugal with his family, he seems in no hurry to play again, and indeed he may have already ended his fabulous career.
“To be honest, I’m not really too fussed at the moment to go playing again or get into coaching.” “I’m just enjoying spending time at home and I’ve no burning ambition to stay in the game. “
“I have had a few calls from people wanting me to play this season but nothing has got me excited enough yet and things might just fizzle out. ” “You ask yourself ‘do I want to end up scrapping away playing in a lower division?’ and the answer is probably no.”
“I’ve had a great career and if someone told me as a kid I’d spend 17 years at United and six at Newcastle I wouldn’t have believed them. ” “It’s looking more likely it will be the end but if I get a call that’s really interesting, you never know. But I’m not holding my breath.”
For the record Nicky made 566 total appearances in his career with 22 goals and at the Newcastle club, appeared 173 times with 5 goals. He played for Manchester United and Newcastle United and was on loan from 2005-2006 at Birmingham City, where he played 29 games with 3 goals.
Nicky was a great player, but he was also a great guy and showed in the stylish way in which he left the Newcastle club in May, that he is also a class act.
At some time in the future, we’d love to see Nicky back on Tyneside, perhaps in a coaching role, under Newcastle’s still successful manager, Chris Hughton.