Tuesday 20 February 2018

Nicky Butt hails rising star Adnan Januzaj as the new Ryan Giggs

United legend opens up on classy Belgian, Van Gaal's vision and England's 'false hope'

Nicky Butt gets on the ball during his visit to Dublin yesterday
Nicky Butt gets on the ball during his visit to Dublin yesterday
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

NICKY BUTT has seen the new Ryan Giggs, and his name is Adnan Januzaj.

Butt (39) said as much to another former Manchester United stalwart, Steve Bruce, now manager of Hull City, when United played the Tigers in the closing weeks of the season.

Bruce wasn't having any of it. He thought Butt was winding him up a bit ahead of the game, but he changed his tune after the final whistle.

"The only other player I've seen that good at that age was Giggsy. He's that good, he's phenomenal," said Butt.

"We played against Hull when Ryan was in charge, and I was speaking to Brucey in the kit room beforehand. He asked about Adnan and I said he was unbelievable – as good as Giggsy was at that age.

"Brucey said, 'whatever'. Then, after the game, he came up to me and told me that I was right."

Januzaj, who is only 19 and is in Belgium's World Cup squad, is cocky and inclined to make his opinions known, which, says Butt, "can be a pain", but he loves the confidence and bravery the youngster shows against older, ruthless defenders.

"It's a fine line with him. He's a great lad but he's not far from going a bit too cocky.

"I suppose all top-drawer players are like that but for me, as I say, within four years he'll be up there with Messi and Ronaldo," said Butt.

Butt should know young talent when he sees it. He was a member of the famous 'Class of 92' and one of 'Fergie's Fledglings' in 1995-96 when United made a mockery of TV pundit and ex-Liverpool ace Alan Hansen's assertion that "you win nothing with kids".

During his 12-year first-team spell at Old Trafford, Butt grew from boy to man. By the time he moved to Newcastle in 2004, he had won a Champions League medal, six Premier League medals and three FA Cup winners' medals with the Reds.

Butt has been working with United's academy players since October 2012 and, more recently, as reserve team coach, with a short stint as one of Ryan Giggs' assistants in the wake of David Moyes' sudden departure.

Louis van Gaal will take over as manager once his job with Holland at the World Cup finals is finished and Butt has been told he will be staying at the club.

"I'll just basically wait and see until he (Van Gaal) gets back from the World Cup, then I'll speak to him. They want me to stay at the club but they don't know in what capacity yet," said Butt.

Butt was a tough-tackling midfielder and he didn't shirk any questions put to him by the media yesterday.


"Van Gaal, it's a massive thing for him being a winner because short term, he'll get that winning mentality back, and hopefully he will get that fear back at Old Trafford.

"When we were playing, you could look at the other team lining up against you in the tunnel and see they were beat before they came on the pitch.

"I don't see that fear in teams coming to Old Trafford at the minute."


"Off the top of my head we need eight players – six, seven, eight players. We've lost Rio and Vidic, Giggsy obviously. We've lost a few important players and maybe two or three others will get sold.

"Add them up, you're looking at five or six players to buy ... in a World Cup year! Good luck with that.

"It's going to be difficult but he's took the challenge on board and thinks he can do it.

"We have some great players and if we add to that with the mentality that they're winners, we'll be okay. But it's massive, and we have to win straight away, and that's why they went for Van Gaal."


"Personally, I think he has got a good job with the national team. He is with a manager he knows and likes, a good manager.

"He's obviously a proud Irishman. He is still a massive icon in this country. He is in a stable job at the minute and I know he's happy with the job. I was talking to him a few weeks ago and he likes it.

"Roy's been out of management for a while now but everybody knows that he done a great job when he was at Sunderland.

"What he did there in his first managerial job was tremendous. It doesn't surprise me that teams are coming for him now.

"I'm sure he has mellowed, but if Roy was to mellow too much he wouldn't be Roy, and he wouldn't have the same driving force that has made him so successful all his life."


"We haven't won anything since 1966. What gives us the right to go in to any tournament and expect to win something? It's false hope.

"There were always lots of better teams than us, even the time I was playing. Teams that are much better than us, yet the press at home and pundits think 'this could be our one, this could be our one'. It's false hope for me.

"This year it's fresh. Roy (Hodgson) has sent over young players who are hungry and quick, pacey and fit and who have had a good season. That's refreshing."


"I know what my mate Scholesy said the other week about him but, for me, if Wayne's on fire, he's as a good as anyone in the world.

"People say he's not world-class but what is world-class? Messi and Ronaldo? Well, they're not world-class – they're just on a different planet.

"Klose? Rooney's as good as him. Muller? He's as good as him. If you look at the top players in Europe, he's as good, if not better than most of them."


"Let's get one thing straight. You've gone from a man who had so much charisma, adulation from the fans, fear from referees and press guys. To fill those boots, it's very difficult to do.

"Maybe the players took their foot off the gas a fraction when Alex left. With the margins in football, taking your foot off the pedal by that much is massive.

"(The job) wasn't impossible, but it was as close to impossible as you can get. Let's be honest. If you look at it, the players were getting older. Rio, Fletcher, Vidic, Giggsy. They were strong characters in the dressing-room.

"You're then relying on younger players like Jones, Smalling, Evans, Cleverley and Welbeck.

"They're all great players but don't have the presence or character of Rio, Giggs, Scholes, Vidic, in my eyes anyway. Not at the minute, maybe they will have in a few years.

"For David Moyes to come in and try to totally change the way Manchester United have been for 25 years, it wasn't the right time for me.

"Because, while you can change young players, it's difficult to change older players.

"If you look at when players like Rio, Vidic, Van Persie and Rooney get to an age, they get set in their ways. You like to do this, this, this and this. They probably didn't accept change as much as the younger ones did."


"It's a difficult job and under-estimated, because you're working with potentially mega-million pound players. Added to that, you've got players that think they're better than they are.

"You've got to deal with their egos, and then you've got a few of the lads that are upset because they're coming down from the first team to train with you, and they might upset training.

"It's a difficult job and as much as you might want to give someone a rollicking, you've got to be really careful with how you approach it."

* Nicky Butt was in Dublin yesterday to promote the Guinness International Champions Cup, which will feature Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, AS Roma, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Manchester City and Olympiakos. The final is on August 4 in Miami, and one Irish football fan can win a trip to the final for himself and three friends via the Guinness Plus App, which is available to download for iPhone and Android Smartphones from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Irish Independent

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