If I were asked to assemble my Manchester United dream team, I wouldn’t know where to begin; however, I know for certain I would place Nicky Butt smack dab in the middle of the pitch.
Butt began his youth career with United in 1991 and later joined as a senior member from 1992-2004 and after 12 brilliant years of service, he walked away from Old Trafford. Having graced the Theatre of Dreams with numerous spectacular performances, he played a key fill-in role on numerous occasions during the absence of Roy Keane.
In the latter of Keane’s career he was plagued with injuries while Sir Alex Ferguson was placed with the rough task of finding a replacement. In the 1994/95 season covering for Keane, Butt made his breakthrough and the rest was history.
Upon Keane’s return, there instantly became a budding partnership between the two as Paul Ince made way for Inter Milan in 1995. Both Butt and Keane were hard tacklers and as Captain Fantastic controlled the defensive duties, it was Butt who was instrumental in beginning the attack for Manchester United. Butt was superb at spreading the pitch as he found Gary Neville in advanced positions, and even flourished with David Beckham during his tenure with United.
Unfortunately for Nicky Butt, towards the end of the 1990’s, Paul Scholes took hold of the United midfield and made it his own. Scholesy picked up steam allowing for less and less room for Butt in the starting XI but nevertheless was still apart of the treble winning side in 1999 – a Champions League final in which he was also able to start in as Keane was out with suspension. Success is often looked at in terms of silverware, and Butt retained plenty of that during his career with United – six Premier League medals, three FA Cups, and one Champions League medal. Amassing just under 400 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United, Butt kept ahold of his midfielding duties and never played outside of his strengths.
As his playing years are behind him, Nicky Butt now undergoes a new challenge as Manchester United’s Reserve Coach. At 38, although he’s featured for Newcastle United during his playing career, he came back to United – once a Red always a Red. The days where Nicky Butt ran 60 yards up the pitch as Keane sat back on his defensive post or the moments when Ryan Giggs drilled set pieces spot onto the head of Butt are long gone; however, the love for the Manchester club will never diminish. Working alongside a coaching great Warren Joyce with the Under 21’s, he had plenty of praise for his new position and his willingness to learn off the pitch as he once did on. Butt told MUTV: “I’m inexperienced so I’ve come along with Warren to learn from him and the other coaches at the club. It’s totally different to what I expected and it’s hard work […] It’s all about how you prepare for the day ahead.” A mastermind during his time, admits when there is room for improvement. As he featured alongside some of the greatest ever to play for Manchester United during his long career at Old Trafford, Butt will be the first to tell you what it means to wake up wearing and representing the historic crest.