Interview – Paul Butler

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Paul Butler is a Football Coach, who most recently held the title of Assistant Coach at ADO Den Haag. He’s held similar roles at the likes of Leeds United, Doncaster Rovers, Blackpool and Oldham Athletic. We talk to Paul about his story of entering into the world of coaching, despite having no professional playing experience.

Icebreaker:

During Paul’s time with Leeds United he acted as somewhat of an interpreter between the mostly Spanish speaking playing staff and the rest of the squad… Paul also has a background in Sports Science and so between all of that it got the United Mates thinking about Dr. Dolittle. Today’s icebreaker is, if you could speak to one animal and understand them, which animal would it be and why?

On Football in Paul’s Childhood and his Start in Professional Coaching:

Paul was an average quality central midfielder who was converted into a right back and never made the grade at academy level. Inspired by Arsène Wenger’s early revolutionary days at Arsenal and his own love for playing the game, Paul knew that he wanted to be a professional football coach before he was done with school.

At university Paul coached a very decent first eleven football side and meanwhile sent of a bunch of letters to professional clubs looking to get some work experience. After being met with a host of rejections and not even hearing back from many of the clubs, Paul decided that the time had come to infiltrate the world of coaching on his own terms. Paul tells the story of buying an oversized suit and a ratty old briefcase from a local charity shop before travelling to Manchester City’s old Carrington training ground and dashing past security to make it into the front office. From there he managed to negotiate a meeting with the manager at the time Stuart Pearce, who invited Paul back the next day to observe training!

Early Professional Roles:

From there Paul continued to experiment successfully with his university football side and gain more work experience at Premier League clubs like Fulham and Middlesbrough where Paul would work with two future England managers, Roy Hodgson and Gareth Southgate.

Eventually Paul joined his namesake Paul Dickov at Oldham United as the first team’s head of sports science, however Paul Butler considers this his real footballing internship as he learned so much on the job before being placed on gardening leave during a rough spell of results for the team. Paul Butler by this point had forged a relationship with Dickov that would see the two reunite at Doncaster Rovers after Butler would take the role of coach at Paul Ince’s Blackpool in between.

More Recent Positions:

After working with Paul Dickov for the second time at Doncaster Paul would become a coach at Derby County where he would work for the third England manager so far during his career, Steve McLaren. Steve entrusted Paul to handle a fair amount of tactical preparation and this further solidified Paul’s credentials as a football coach primarily rather than a fitness coach/sports scientist. Paul echoes what the mates have heard before, which is that McLaren is a fantastic man manager, but also tells Kei and Joe about McLaren’s more technical and tactical theories.

Paul’s next move was to Leeds United where he was appointed to be part of Thomas Christiansen’s coaching staff. Christiansen was the first Leeds manager of the new Andrea Radrizzani era and despite a flying start to the season the coaching team, including Paul, was sacked after only several months. Paul happened to be at Leeds when they designed and pitched the infamously terrible new club crest/logo and tells the story behind that too.

Paul’s last coaching role was in the Netherlands working under Alan Pardew and alongside Chris Powell. Unfortunately because of COVID-19 the league season in the Netherlands was cancelled and Paul’s contract with the Hague club has since expired. Luckily for Paul’s last club ADO Den Haag, this cancellation of the Eredivisie actually saved the club from possible relegation.

Paul’s next steps?:

Paul is currently waiting for his next move in the world of professional football and coaching. He says that he would relish the opportunity to work with and learn from Alan Pardew again but that essentially until the right opportunity presents itself, he’s happy to wait.

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