The axe hovering over Terry Butcher all season has been shelved after securing a gutsy top four finish - now the Sydney FC coach wants to do a hatchet job on the A-League finals field.
Butcher came out swinging after ending yet another week of speculation about his future by ensuring Sydney FC - and his job - remained alive in the A-League with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Queensland Roar at Brisbane on Saturday night.
Butcher said no one would want to face the fired up Sydney FC after it leapfrogged Queensland into the top four by holding out the Roar with just 10 men in front of a record 32,000-plus Suncorp Stadium crowd.
Rumours abounded that Butcher would not be given a second season as coach if Sydney FC failed to make the finals after his job was linked to none other than last night's rival mentor Frank Farina.
But Butcher was defiant after the defending A-League champion nabbed the draw it desperately needed to clinch a playoff berth despite midfielder Ufuk Talay receiving an 81st minute red card.
"I don't think anyone wants to play Sydney either home or away - they know what we can do," Butcher said.
"There's nothing to fear (for Sydney FC). If we get the preparation right we have every chance (of winning back to back titles)."
Sydney FC could have received an armchair ride into the top four if Newcastle was beaten by Melbourne on Friday night - but Butcher has not taken anything for granted this season.
Just as well - Newcastle duly thrashed minor premier Melbourne 4-0, ensuring Sydney FC needed at least a draw against Queensland, a feat easier said than done in front of a record Roar crowd.
Butcher's task was not made any easier when injuries and suspensions ensured he could only field three reserves on Saturday night - including striker Sasho Petrovski who had been battling a back strain.
Throw in fresh speculation last week about his future and Butcher would have been forgiven for hitting the panic button.
But the former England defender held firm to guide Sydney FC to a tense draw.
"Going into the last minutes with only 10 men is typical FC, we do things the hard way," Butcher lamented.
"But despite all the hiccups and hurdles we are in the finals - and we are there to make an impact." Despite the rumours about his job security, Butcher said the result was "never about that. It was about getting into the finals".
Butcher was still ruing the club being recently fined and docked three competition points for breaching A-League salary cap rules in 2005 - robbing them of a potential top two finish.
"It might have been enough to get second place if not for the FFA (Football Australia)," he said.
Butcher will be without Talay but is expected to welcome back Mark Milligan, Terry McFlynn (suspension) and Alvin Ceccoli (foot) next week.