Terry Butcher was no wallflower during his 28-year playing, managing and punditry career in Britain but he’s quickly accepted needing to tone down his incendiary temper at Sydney FC.
It’s true, the legendary laid-back Aussie way of life is even getting to the former England captain, a man best remembered by finishing a 1989 World Cup qualifier swathed in bloodied bandages and putting his foot through a variety of dressing room doors the length and breadth of the country.
Butcher, it seems, has mellowed. The veteran of three l Domino Qq World Cup campaigns and 77 national team appearances as well as one of the country’s greatest football leaders of the past 20 years has been forced to, he says, after quickly discovering the Sir Alex Ferguson hairdryer school of management just didn’t wash with your modern Australian footballer.
He tried to make his pampered bunch at Sydney come around to the British mentality, naturally. But the methods he used to captain Rangers to three Scottish league titles and to a lesser degree help Motherwell’s revival simply failed to have the desired effect, particularly after Butcher replaced soft-talking German perfectionist Pierre Littbarski at the start of the season.
The metamorphosis came about slowly, mind. Earlier this season, for instance, Sydney’s usually affable left-back Alvin Ceccoli was suspended for swearing at Butcher after the coach had allegedly provoked him with a four-letter tirade of his own from the sidelines.
The former Ipswich centre-half, a self-acclaimed Norwich hater, also reportedly clashed with ex-Canaries midfielder turned Sydney assistant Ian Crook. The result was Crook was banished from the training ground before accepting a deal to join Littbarski at J-League second-division side Avispa Fukuoka.
But Butcher, who nowadays walks more gingerly than the commanding defender many might remember him, has admitted he’s bowed to change and adapted to the Aussie way. “I have mellowed. You have to mellow out here,” he told British football journalist Danny Kelly on the Times Online podcast last month. “It’s a different culture.
“If you rant and rave and do that sort of thing, it doesn’t wash. Your man management skills have got to be a lot better. You’ve got to be closer to the players. You can’t do those things.
“I tried early on, it didn’t work and I had to change. But you don’t drop your standards, …