Date:Monday December 4 2006
It wasn't so long ago Nicky Butt was a bit of a hate figure with the Toon Army.
Sir Bobby Robson signed him for £4m and we expected some Manchester United-type performances that we knew he was capable of.
Sadly, it became a bit of a nightmare for the tough-tackling midfielder.
We had seen it all before, players arrive with big reputations from big clubs and fail (for whatever reason) to produce the goods at St James' Park.
Kenny Samson was the classic case. Arguably the best left-back in Europe during his Arsenal days, but a total flop at Newcastle.
And we saw the same with Butt. So much so Graeme Souness tried to off-load him to Birmingham, and he went down like a 'lead balloon' at St Andrews too!
But the penny has finally dropped, he is back in the zone, and Toon goalkeeper Shay Given says he is the main reason the defence is looking a lot tighter.
Centre-backs Steven Taylor and Titus Bramble have won most of the plaudits in recent weeks, but Given has singled out Butt.
Given: 'Nicky Butt should take a lot of credit for the way things have tightened up. He's been fantastic in front of the back four and helps the lads defend better.
'He is a calming influence and he keeps things simple.'
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