Jacob Butterfield may have arrived in Melbourne with over 300 Championship appearances, but at 30 years of age his desire for on-field success is as high as ever.
The former Middlesbrough, Derby County and Luton Town midfielder has already been entrusted by Victory coach Grant Brebner as a leader in the team and has his sights set on some lofty goals.
“I’ve definitely got that competitive spirit,” he told media after a training session on Thursday.
“It’s only early but I want to make the playoffs. If we can play at our potential I’m very confident.”
His choice of wording in ‘playoffs’ rather than ‘finals’, as the Australian vernacular would dictate, is indicative of his English background and career success to date.
Butterfield reached the Championship promotion playoffs with Derby in 2016, only for the Rams to fall short against the eventually promoted Hull City.
The Victory No.8 admitted that the goal of chasing playoff qualification in England’s second division is similar to aiming for the finals in the A-League, but relished the added competition of a smaller league.
“Because it’s a smaller league with less teams I think everyone has the same objective,” he said.
“There’s no fear of relegation, it’s purely about getting to the playoffs for all the teams.”
Arriving at AAMI Park with all of his quality and experience, Butterfield is confident that he can play a big role in any success Victory have this season.
He freely concedes his tendency to shoot from distance and backs himself from long-range to chip in with a few goals.
“I’ll keep shooting” was the message he gave, adding he hopes to have one in the net as soon as possible.
And it’s the competitive spirit alongside this that gives him the confidence and desire to be a leading player in navy blue in his first campaign away from English football.
“Definitely, every time a player steps on the pitch they want to get the best out of themselves and be the best player on the pitch,” he said.
“I’ll try bring my best football, if I can play as well as I know I can I think I can help the team and help us be successful and that’s what it’s all about.”
Butterfield insisted he has been impressed with the overall quality and condition of the league, despite taking exception to a sweltering Adelaide evening during which he said he struggled for breath.
The Englishman praised the technical ability of the players and the willingness to play out of the back, relishing that “every game is a challenge”.
He felt that particularly in his first taste of a Melbourne Derby, a 0-0 draw with Western United last Saturday.
“It was good, they put in some challenges didn’t they,” he said of Mark Rudan’s side.
“I got a few knocks in that game, I’ve had to look after myself this week to recover.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Butterfield since he joined, though, with multiple quarantine periods and a long trip to Qatar to compete in the Asian Champions League with very little training.
The Victory reached the knockout stages of the tournament in December and were the only A-League side to do so, though Butterfield felt the team could have gone even further with a little more preparation and training.
Quarantine was especially difficult for Butterfield, who as a midfielder is expected to have a big engine in the middle of the pitch but fitness levels were impacted by the two-week lay-off.
“I was surprised actually after the first quarantine I’d done and I’d come back into training – just how much it took out of my body just to get going again,” he said with a wry smile.
All in all though, Butterfield hailed what he said has been a “seamless transition” into life in Melbourne, and backed Victory to continue to get better as the season unfolds.
Eager for his side to get off to better starts in games than they have done previously, Butterfield and co will take on Brisbane Roar this Saturday, looking to exact revenge from their Round 1 defeat.