Butterfield: Experience made 'a massive difference' in Victory turnaround

Jacob Butterfield says the injection of experience into Melbourne Victory's starting 11 played a telling part in his side's 5-4 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

Butterfield scored what proved to be the decider in a manic nine-goal thriller, putting Victory 5-1 up in the second half before a late Wanderers charge saw the visiting side move to within one goal by the full-time whistle. 

The result - notched in interim boss Steve Kean's first game in charge - sent Victory above Newcastle Jets and off the foot of the A-League table.

MATCH REPORT: Victory 5-4 Wanderers: chaos reigns as Victory edge nine-goal thriller

In the fallout from Victory's dismal 7-0 loss to Melbourne City in Matchweek 17, Kean brought three key players back into his starting lineup to face Western Sydney: Rudy Gestede (32), Leigh Broxham (33) and Robbie Kruse (32). The three additions provided experience aplenty to a Victory side often crying out for leadership in recent times. 

Speaking to FOX Sports post-match, Butterfield outlined the impact the returning trio made to his side's fortunes in the 5-4 win.

"They make a massive difference," he said.

I don’t want to make excuses for this season. For a club like this - which is a great club by the way, I love playing for this club - it hasn’t been good enough, full stop.

But we have to look at what’s happened. We’ve had a lot of injuries, and we’ve struggled for consistency.

"Key players have been missing for long periods. We’ve had to play a lot of young players - young players who I think have a good chance to have a career - but it’s been chop (and) change, a lot of inexperienced young teams out there making mistakes.

"It’s been tough. The experienced lads who came in tonight, you could see the difference they made.

"Rudy Gestede as an outlet, Kruse was fantastic, Broxham with his talking and experience at the back. It just makes us look a bit more cohesive as a team, really."

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Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers | Match Highlights | A-League

In the fallout of Victory's embarrassing Melbourne Derby loss, a win over the sixth-placed Wanderers capped off a relatively positive week for the club in which Tony Popovic was announced as head coach ahead of the 2021/22 season.

With two A-League Premierships and one AFC Asian Champions League title under his belt, the experienced coach will arrive with the intention of waking the sleeping giant from its two-season slumber. 

But with the mere notion of Popovic's arrival looming in the minds of the current playing squad, the incoming coach's impact may already be taking effect.

Butterfield says interim boss Kean's message leading into the Wanderers clash leant on that fact, as he urged his players to play for the club, to play with pride, and play for their futures.

"(Kean) just kept it simple, to be honest, he’s very experienced as a manager," Butterfield said.

"He spoke about experiences he’s had in similar situations.

"He just said ‘ look, this is where we are, you’re all playing for your futures, and you need to go out and show how much it means to you to play for this club individually, and stick to the structure we’ve worked on’.

"It obviously worked for us tonight."

Next Matches

Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Tuesday, April 27 2021
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 7.35pm AEST
Match Centre

Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC
Saturday, May 1 2021 
Bankwest Stadium
Kick-off: 7.10pm AEST
Match Centre