Having won Scottish league titles as a player with Rangers, guided Inverness Caledonian Thistle to the top-flight for the first time in their history and occupied the Motherwell hot seat for over four years, Terry Butcher knows a thing or two about the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Ladbrokes News caught up with the former Gers ace to discuss all things Scottish football, from Rangers’ second-place push to Celtic’s chances against Barcelona and Richie Foran’s surprise summer plans. Over to you, Terry…
LN: You took Inverness up to the top tier back in 2009-10. They’ve continued to overachieve, finishing third in the Ladbrokes Premiership last season. Why is it they’re continuing to bely their small size and succeed?
TB: I think it’s down to the character of everyone at the club. When I was at the club, we brought some excellent players up from England as well as developing young Scottish talents who were already at the club.
A lot of the players I signed for Inverness – the likes of Gary Warren and Carl Tremarco – are still there, while Greg Tansey has also come back to the club.
The new manager, Richie Foran – who I signed about six times as a player! – has a great rapport with the fans, and is giving them a team to be really proud of.
Richie’s managed to adapt their style to deliver results, and he has a squad with a brilliant work ethic. They really don’t know when they’re beat.
You need to be a hardy character to travel three-and-a-half hours to an away game and get a result – but they keep on getting it done.
LN: Richie Foran was one of the key men in your Inverness and Motherwell sides. Did you always think he’d be a manager?
TB: I never, ever expected Richie to go into management! [*Laughs*]
I always thought he’d get involved in Gaelic Football. When I had Richie at Motherwell, he went back to Dublin one summer, and I thought nothing of it until a press reporter called me and asked ‘Did you know your star striker is playing in a Gaelic Football Final at Croke Park?’.
He came on as a substitute and scored the winning goal, so the media was full of reports about it. I didn’t know until that call. I said I’d fine him when he got back, but I never did!
LN: Now he’s stuck with Scottish Football instead of Gaelic Football, have you been impressed by how well Richie has adapted to management?
TB: He looks after the players brilliantly, and seems to be a natural at man-management.
They had a rough start to the season, losing the first three in the league, but Richie has changed the way they set-up and made them tougher to break down, while still retaining their attacking threat.
His players have really bought into the new style of play, and they look like a confident side who can really push on and get another excellent finish in the league table.
LN: Rangers, another of your former clubs, are back in the Ladbrokes Premiership after four seasons away. They’re a point behind Aberdeen right now. Can they leapfrog the Dons – and is there any chance of them catching Celtic?
TB: There’s no chance of them catching Celtic this year. For now, it’s all about transition and building for Mark Warburton. A lot of Rangers fans won’t like to hear that, you have to be realistic.
They’ve brought in some good players, but unfortunately Nico Kranjcar’s picked up an injury and Joey Barton is no longer with the club, so they’ve had some misfortune so far.
They still have enough quality to offer a serious challenge for second spot, but Aberdeen and Hearts were both really strong last season, so it’s going to be a really interesting battle for those places.
LN: Obviously Rangers will always be a huge club, but have you been surprised or impressed by the amount of seasoned internationals Warburton has managed to bring in – the likes of Philippe Senderos, Clint Hill, obviously Kranjcar?
TB: I have been impressed, yes. Some players are taking a bit longer to settle into Scottish football than others, but all of those guys have the experience and quality to have a really big impact at Ibrox.
Rangers are traditionally stronger in the second half of seasons, and I see that being the case once again this time around.
Mark will know where the side can improve in this league now, and he’s got the January transfer window to look at new recruits and try and bolster the talented squad he has already.
LN: Moving across the city – a word on Celtic and their Champions League campaign. Two defeats, but two impressive draws against Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach. What have you thought of their European displays?
TB: They’ve been excellent. The squad Brendan [Rodgers] has assembled is excellent, and he’s rotated them to very good effect.
Dembele up front has been the really eye-catching player for Celtic – at home and on the continent. He’s been an absolutely brilliant buy, and he’s already held in huge esteem by their fans, having scored the hat-trick against Rangers in the League, and those goals against Man City and Gladbach.
LN: Next up for them in Europe is Barcelona at Celtic Park. They beat Barca 2-1 back in 2012. Could they do it again?
TB: They could, because the atmosphere at Parkhead on a European night is something else.
Barca have been forewarned, because Celtic have already ended Manchester City’s winning run this season. The likes of Messi and Iniesta have lost there before, and it could happen again.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing