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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Butcher relishes Sydney challenge
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Sydney FC coach Terry Butcher
Butcher is adapting to the lifestyle Down Under
Terry Butcher plays up to jokes about the beer and barbecue lifestyle associated with his new home down under - but any suggestion he has taken the easy option by swapping Scotland for Sydney swiftly stops the laughter.

Life away from Motherwell has its compensations, with conversations fitted in between an early-evening game of tennis and a relaxing meal outdoors.

But the former England captain and outspoken one-time BBC pundit is deadly serious when he reveals how he has taken on one of the biggest challenges of a glorious career at A-League champions Sydney FC.

Since his appointment in May, Butcher has seen the departure of his chairman Walter Bugno and the surprise deal that took his so-called "marquee" player Dwight Yorke from Sydney to Sunderland.

Throw in a minority objecting to an English coach and a majority who simply want to see the biggest team in Australia knocked off their perch, and you can see why Butcher is bristling with defiance after his team finally found the form to confound their critics.

A 4-1 win at Adelaide United, inspired by Yorke's replacement Benito Carbone, has elevated Sydney to third in the A-League, seven points behind Melbourne.

Butcher told BBC Sport: "It's a massive challenge. People don't realise what it entails - but don't get me wrong, I'm loving it and Sydney is a wonderful city to come home to after you have travelled to an away game. It really is a beautiful place to call home."

And when Sydney travel to an away game, the emphasis really is on the word travel.

Butcher admits the 8,000-kilometre round trip to Perth is a world away from his longest journey last season - to Inverness.

Benito Carbone
Benito Carbone in action on his debut for Sydney FC

He said: "Inverness was three hours away, which was an overnight stay for Motherwell. When we played in Perth in Australia we were away for three nights and, effectively, four days.

"We travelled on the Thursday and trained on the Thursday night. We trained on the Friday, played on the Saturday and flew back on the Sunday. That is longer than some clubs in England and Scotland take for European matches.

"There are so many challenges. The attitudes, the professionalism, the travelling, the expectations - but the bigger the challenge the more determined I am to meet it."

Butcher has been welcomed by the majority but admits his arrival as a high-profile English footballing figure has brought its criticism.

He said: "Everyone says we are the best team with the best players, that we won the league last year and they expect us to win every game and win it comfortably. It just doesn't happen.

"Everybody wants to beat us. Sydney is a real scalp but I had that with Rangers, England and with Ipswich when we were successful. Everyone here has got an opinion - on small and big things - and you have to be able to deal with that.

"And I have to say there is a small minority of the media that is anti-British - and especially anti-English. A lot of people want an English coach to be in charge of Sydney and other people think the English style is long ball.

"That's not my style of football at all. The majority of people criticising me haven't seen Sydney play or any of the teams I have coached.

"I must stress it is a minority, the majority have been great, but it fires me up to do well and makes everybody here more determined to do well.

"It's a big battle for me but it is one I'm enjoying because I know I can win it.

"I can change people's opinions of me and the team because I've got good players at a good club, with great fans and lots of people who want the club to do well.

"The expectation and pressure is immense but this is what you strive for. You work hard to be in these positions."

What did I miss when I first arrived? Jumpers and a coat

Sydney FC coach Terry Butcher

New signing Carbone is integral to that plan. The former Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa striker turned in a match-winning display against Adelaide in the first of a four-game guest spell with Sydney FC, scoring one goal and setting up two more in a crucial victory.

Butcher said: "I know people felt he was a disaffected figure when he left England but I remember the good things - he was exciting and scored goals. He is with us for four games but we are looking longer term than that."

Sydney hope to seal at least a top-two place in February to qualify for the Asian Champions League - and football is flourishing in Australia after a good World Cup.

Butcher said: "They expect the A-League to be like the World Cup part two. It has certainly been an exciting and explosive start to the season, with lots of red cards, goals and controversy.

"We have had to deal with suspensions and lots of travelling but for the first time we played like we can play against Adelaide and I was delighted."

It may all be a far cry from Motherwell but Butcher insisted: "I have faced harder challenges than this and come through it. I am working for a good club in a fantastic place and I am relishing the job."

Butcher backs Beckham exclusion
03 Oct 06 |  Internationals
Yorke completes Sunderland move
31 Aug 06 |  Sunderland
Butcher named as boss of Sydney
17 May 06 |  Motherwell


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