Former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt thinks that while his old team has caught up to fierce rivals Liverpool on the field, they are still falling behind in their off-field efforts.
Butt was a member of the renowned “Class of 92” who rose through United’s academy to play at the top levels.
Prior to coming to Newcastle, he made 387 appearances for the team and won six Premier League championships, three FA Cups, and the Champions League in the 1999 Treble-winning season.
Butt returned to United in 2012 to serve as the reserve team’s coach. He later rose to the position of head of first-team development before departing once more in March 2021.
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The 48-year-old succeeded Gary Neville as Salford City’s chief executive in October, but he continues to keep a close eye on happenings at his former team and attended Sunday’s EFL Cup victory over Newcastle at Wembley.
Even though Butt is thrilled with United’s advancements under Erik ten Hag, he believes there is still more work to be done.
According to him, United have surpassed Liverpool in terms of football.
Liverpool will have a challenging summer in terms of recruiting. Their midfield appears seasoned. Their greatest players aren’t doing as well as they should, either.
“Jurgen Klopp is fantastic, and I believe he will bring in the proper players, so they might return next season. However, United have overtaken them on the field, which is a huge credit to Ten Hag. He looks to have everything under control.
He is respected by those in positions of authority because he is aware of what he wants and has their respect.
“City are hiccupping every two minutes, and while I honestly think Arsenal will stay the distance, they could slip off,” said the analyst. “They could even go in the back door and win the title.
“But, I don’t think United are back. Zero chance. United behind Liverpool in the club’s basics, according to this analysis. To advance, the recruitment team must complete a challenging task. Fourth place doesn’t make Manchester United.
“I recall that when we used to place second, we were warned that we would be sold the following year. Sold!
“You can say it’s the past, but it was the club’s mindset in the past. It wouldn’t matter if you came in second if you came in eighth.
Competitors of United “won’t stand still”
Nicky Butt, a former midfielder for Manchester United, made 387 appearances for the club and earned six Premier League championships, three FA Cups, and the Champions League in 1999.
The money needed to bring Ten Hag’s team up to the standard Butt demands puts the club’s current ownership dilemma back in the spotlight.
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos firm, two known bidders, have yet to learn whether the Glazer family will actually sell the club or if they are only seeking further investment.
The owners are undoubtedly United’s main focus, according to Butt. “The supporters have never really warmed up to them, nor have they ever really fit, or been visible.
“It’s incredibly challenging to catch up to teams like Newcastle, [Manchester] City, or Chelsea if they continue to invest money on stadiums, training facilities, and players.
“People keep mentioning how great United are doing, but do you believe City aren’t progressing similarly in the background if they are moving up as well?
Because they are moving, you still need to catch them. Chelsea are moving forward. The same will apply to Newcastle.
“We’re not sure what the owners will do. Will they ask someone to come in and assist fund it, or will they entirely sell the club and let someone else come in and pour a lot of money into its foundation?
Butt was aware Rashford would become famous.
Marcus Rashford, a forward for Manchester United
In Manchester United’s victory over Newcastle in the EFL Cup final, Marcus Rashford scored the second goal.
Whatever success United has this year, Marcus Rashford will have been a major contributor.
The English forward has scored a career-high 25 goals this year, with Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes United coming in second with seven goals.
As Rashford was rising through the club’s young ranks, Butt was a key player in the academy system and there was little question that his fellow Mancunian would succeed.
When my son questioned me about whether I always believed Marcus would be that talented, I was sitting with my son (at Wembley),” Butt added. “Yes, I said. He would be unbelievable, I thought. He was always. He may have been trained by anyone.
“He had a few difficult years, but it depends on what you mean by difficult. Off the field, he did so much great stuff.
In my perspective, the people surrounding him pushed him more on that than on his football, but in terms of pure talent, he is on par with anyone in the world at what he does. I think he’s coming around to accepting it, too.
revitalizing sluggish Salford
Butt has his own problems at Salford, despite the fact that it is clear he cares a great deal about United.
He acknowledges that the club has “stalled” despite making quick growth during the first five years of the “Class of 92” ownership, when four promotions brought them from the Northern Premier League’s second division to League Two by 2019.
If I said we hadn’t, I’d be lying, he said. “We are still here. We must acknowledge that we have stalled if we have the biggest budget and do nothing.
But there have also been challenges off the field to cope with, such as a plan to relocate to the 12,000-seat AJ Bell Stadium that failed to materialize. The move was supposed to begin with the start of the next season, but Salford City Council changed its mind and halted negotiations in December.
We were preparing for the future, Butt stated. “There was a chance that you would seem foolish if you were still in League Two and only drawing in two or three thousand fans, but the financing were completed and approved, and then the council informed us that they would be purchasing the property themselves.
“Really, everyone was equally astonished. I find it absurd that a municipality would spend £16 million on a stadium when 42% of Salford’s population lives in poverty. They won’t profit financially from it. No business plan exists.