Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nicky's Ready to Defy Critics

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nicky's Ready to Defy Critics

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

United manager Glenn Roeder has warned Nicky Butt's critics that they will never drive him out of St James's Park after backing the troubled midfielder to win over the Newcastle supporters.

The former England international endured a fraught return to action in the North-East at the weekend when, during his first appearance on Tyneside in 15 months, he was barracked by a significant section of United fans.

It seems that a player who spent last term on loan at Birmingham has yet to live down his disastrous debut campaign for the club, a season that culminated in his insensitive response to a humiliating FA Cup semi-final defeat at the Millennium Stadium.

But while some of those who were at St James's Park for Saturday's pre-season meeting with PSV Eindhoven demonstrated their discontent with the 31-year-old, Roeder is unconcerned by the prospect of a Gallowgate backlash.

"I would say our supporters are a forgiving crowd," said a manager who, with Amdy Faye bound for Charlton, has told Butt that he will be given the chance to repair his shattered reputation in a black and white shirt this season.

"There were a few boos when he first came on but Nicky got in some good tackles and the crowd even enjoyed the fouls he gave away because they could see his commitment. Nicky doesn't know any other way to play and he will be strong enough to come through this ( a small section of the crowd booing him."

Arguably a questionable signing from Manchester United two years ago, Butt did little to distinguish himself during his maiden campaign in the North-East. And his refusal to acknowledge the Newcastle supporters as he fled the pitch in the aftermath of a 4-1 humbling at the hands of his former club in Cardiff saw his popularity plunge to a new low.

Had Birmingham not been relegated from the Premiership last season, the former Old Trafford favourite would never have returned to Tyneside. That the terms of a permanent transfer were overridden by City's demise have left Roeder with a considerable conundrum.

The deterioration of the player's reputation, coupled with his lucrative contract at St James's Park, means United's hopes of removing him from the wage bill have always been limited. …

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