Butt is on to a win double as he plots Chelsea’s downfall

By Bob Cass

Last updated at 23:32 03 May 2008

As if he needed any reminding about its importance, Nicky Butt's mobile phone has been hot with texts from former Manchester United team-mates about Chelsea's crucial visit to Newcastle tomorrow. The replies have been typical of a player brought up never to accept limits when part of Sir Alex Ferguson's teams: "You don't need my help to win the title."

Butt is the clear victor in his

own battle to win over Newcastle


Under previous management

he was seen to be surplus to

requirements and hived off on a

season's loan to Birmingham.

But in two seasons of

boardroom and managerial

turmoil since then, the

33-year-old midfielder has more

than endorsed the words of

Ferguson when he sold him to Sir

Bobby Robson for a bargain

£2.5million in the summer of 2004

— "He'll do a great job for you".

Now he is one of the first names

on Kevin Keegan's team-sheet

and has played a pivotal role in

Newcastle's recent resurgence.

The Chelsea visit provides him

with an opportunity to help his

current and former team at the

same time.

"The fact that Manchester

United are going for the double

makes this an even bigger game

for me personally," he said. "I was

a long time at Old Trafford and

I've got a lot of friends there still.

Obviously, first and foremost we

want to do well for ourselves and

finish the season on the right note

but the added bonus for me is

that I can help my friends out as


"The Chelsea game is definitely

our biggest test so far. We've had

a lot of good games over the last

six or seven weeks but now we're

up against truly great players

and a great team.

"They are certainly going to

come here with all guns blazing

and it's up to us to compete

against them."

While pinpointing striker

Michael Owen's new role behind

Mark Viduka and Obafemi

Martins as significant in the

Newcastle climb to safety, Butt is

also happier with the extra

responsibility he has been given

in Keegan's set-up.

"I sit a lot deeper and get a lot more freedom than when I'm up

against another player. You get a

lot more time on the ball and I'm

enjoying it."

And he revealed how his

determination to extend his club

playing career as long as possible

encouraged him to take a leaf out

of his big mate Paul Scholes'

book and cut short his

international career.

"Three or four years ago I spoke

to Sven Goran Eriksson and told

him, at my age, I don't want to be

travelling all around the country and the world and sitting in the

stand," he recalled. "He told me if

I wasn't going to be needed he

wouldn't pick me for the squad

and I was happy with that. That's

still the case now."

With one year left on his

contract, Butt has no thoughts of

retirement yet.

"The end comes for everybody

but I've always been the battling

type who can go on a bit longer,"

he said. "I've got one season left

and anything beyond that is a

bonus, really.

"If I'm playing well and

enjoying it then I'd love to stay

for another year but I don't want

to be in football just for the sake

of it.

"I want to keep playing until I

know I can't maintain my

personal standards."

Games to Go

Manchester United

May 11 v Wigan (a)


Tomorrow v Newcastle (a)

(4.0pm, Sky Sports 1)

May 11 v Bolton (h)

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