David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Edgar Davids’

Giant Killing Bees Threaten Escape!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Apologies for the slightly misleading title of the blog, there should have been a hyphen in there somewhere, for anyone who has clicked through due to the fascination of Giant Killing Bees please keep reading but you may be disappointed. The Bees in question are not particularly scary – unless you are a promotion candidate in League Two.

In recent weeks the perennial relegation candidates, Barnet FC, have come away from fixtures against Rotherham, Gillingham and, League Cup hopefuls, Bradford with 9 points. This is really quite incredible feat taking into account that two of these were away. Sandwiched in within those results was an away draw to a strong Exeter side and a disappointing loss at home to fellow strugglers Aldershot. 10 points gained from this particularly tough period of fixtures following Christmas is a hugely successful haul for a side that, at one point, were languishing at the bottom of the table with only 3 points from 11 games.

The credit for this remarkable turnaround in fortunes must lie at the door of Edgar Davids who has instilled a resilience and a confidence which was so sorely lacking during the opening months of the season. He has lead from the front by strapping on his boots and demonstrating the tenacity, and the occasional mistimed tackle, for which he was so highly regarded during his illustrious career. While he may have lost his pace and occasionally looks off the pace he still possesses the touch of class which sets him above the rest on the field.

In a managerial capacity, he has succeeded in tightening up a suicidally leaky defence which had conceded 26 goals in the first 12 games of the season and has imbued a confidence which had been completely eroded before his arrival. His arrival could have proved intimidating to a bunch of League Two players, unaccustomed to the media fanfare and to working alongside such a decorated player. Conversely, it would have been easy for Davids to have believed himself above the job, yet he has thrown himself in with a passion and commitment which has rubbed off on the players. There have been many cases where ex-players have seen themselves as big fish in a little pond and have seemed to use the club as a play thing to keep themselves amused in retirement. This cannot be said of Davids, he has treated the club and fans with respect by convincing them that his number one priority is avoiding relegation.

One of my favourite aspects of Davids’ managerial reign has been the humbleness he has demonstrated when he is no longer having a positive impact on the match, by pointing toward the bench and subbing himself off. It was one of these self-substitutions which gave an excellent insight into the relationship he had with his former ‘Joint’ Head Coach, Mark Robson.

As I wrote in a previous blog, Robson disappeared from view after the appointment of Davids, he sulked on the bench and very rarely stuck his head above the parapet of his dugout to make himself known to the supporters sat behind. Spotting him became a hobby; even Bill Oddie once graced the Main Stand with his binoculars waiting patiently to see Robson’s quiff venture out of the safety of the dugout only to quickly retreat back into his nest until next week. It was clear that Davids was the Alpha male of the relationship, to be fair there would be few occasions where he wouldn’t be.

The relationship between the ‘joint’-head coaches was exemplified perfectly during a game in which Davids was struggling to make an impact, it was clear to everyone that he needed to come off, yet who would make that decision? Would Robson whisper it in the ear of the 4th Official before running to safety? Or would he sit, meekly watching the great man misplace pass after pass? In the end neither situation arose –  it was Davids who strolled over to the bench, barked an order at substitute Andy Yiadom indicating that he wanted him to be his replacement. This moment made it crystal clear the new power structure at the club: Edgar Davids is King.

From this moment it was only a matter of time until Robson was shown the door, the relationship between the two was so one sided, you felt Robson was a man looking in through the window and having no impact upon proceedings  Robson was living on borrowed time after the disastrous start to the season and was only hanging on thanks to Paul Fairclough’s embarrassment in having made the stupid decision to announce that Robson had a ‘job for life’.

Statements of this kind, as admirable as they seem, have found a way of backfiring upon spokesperson this season; with Alan Pardew’s Newcastle plummeting since he was awarded an eight-year contract and his future seemingly to be heading a similar way to Robson’s ‘job for life’.  Paul Fairclough, Director of Football at Barnet, has been the one to have had the spotlight turned upon him this season after another poorly conceived managerial appointment and a declining skill in the scouting department causing many within Underhill to question his position. His close ties to the Chairman Tony Kleanthous will probably mean the desire to see him pay the price for these decisions will not come to fruition. However, his decision-making needs some improvement if he wants to dispel the naysayers and to ensure he will not be joining Mark Robson in the queue at the Job Centre.

After the inevitably doomed Joint Head-Coach experiment Barnet now have only one Head Coach, it’ll never catch on, to steer the club to safety from the depths of despair for the fourth season running. Unfortunately for Barnet their fellow contenders for the drop have also shown an annoying ability to pick up unlikely points indicating another tight finish at the bottom. With the continued application of Davids’ determination and a fair bit of luck I have faith that Barnet can survive once more. It would be a great, and very important, way to say goodbye to Underhill and beckon in a new era at the Hive.

Written by Doug Pyrke, We Are Going Up’s Barnet Blogger

Doug tweets at @dougiepyrke

No Sting Left In The Bees

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Is this finally the year The Bees give up on surviving in League Two and succumb to the painful reality that they are no longer good enough to be classed as a Football League team? This is their eighth season in League Two and long gone are the glory days of Guiliano Grazioli banging goals in at Underhill for fun. The past two seasons have seen remarkably narrow escapes from the drop at the end of the season, but form this year suggests that no progress is being made and their luck may be up.

Saturday’s defeat to Dagenham and Redbridge increased Barnet’s winless run to six games and their 19 goals in 22 games this season is proof of just how important Izale McLeod was to the club last season. Compare this to the 36 goals they have conceded in those games and the evidence suggests that it is not only hitting the net that is a problem this year, but protecting it has proved tough too. To his credit, Mark Robson is taking steps to remedy the situation, completing three signings in the past month, if only to provide different options and cover, rather than first team players. George Barker, a 21 year old forward from Brighton and Andy Iro from Stevenage, have both signed on loan while Dutch winger Melvin Holwijn has signed a one month contract with the Bees. Barker has never made a senior appearance for the Seagulls, but Robson believes he has the quality to score in League Two and there is no doubt he will get a chance to prove this.

While I admire his attempts to save the club, I am afraid it may be futile for Robson and in fact it may do the club a favour to drop down a division. Everybody knows how hard it is to save a club from relegation if they are bottom at Christmas, so without any major spending or some serious luck in January and the coming months, I see no way for the Black And Amber Army to rescue themselves. Despite this, every cloud has a silver lining and with so many young players in the club, it can only be damaging for them to suffer defeats week in week out, and this will undoubtedly hamper their progression.

In the Blue Square league, they would have more opportunities to score and, particularly with Edgar Davids in the ranks, play better attacking football, as opposed to the typical long balls into the wind I’ve been watching flying up the field at Underhill every weekend. However, even despite Barnet’s highly developed, poor-mans Stoke-esque style of play, they have brought some real talent to the fore in recent years. Jason Puncheon and Nicky Bailey and are the most impressive of the names to move on to bigger things, although many have moved up to League One or the Championship and done well. With many of these players, it was clear they were head and shoulders above the other players, and of course most only had one good season before being snapped up, leaving a gaping hole in the side and therefore instability at the club. If Robson and Davids can build a strong team, rather than a weak team with one or two standout players, a return to League Two would be much more sustainable, but this can only happen via a step down.

I’m not saying that Barnet should try to get relegated, but rather that relegation could be a step forward rather than backwards in the long run. I love hearing my fathers stories about the unthinkable days when Barnet used to get the occasional win, and I pray for a return to a similar age, but I see no way for that to happen while my beloved club clings desperately to Football League status. So, on that note, call me a mad man, but I want my club to get relegated so we can rebuild and return much stronger. Even if it does mean I lose my place on this blog.

Written by Danny McGovern, We Are Going Up’s Barnet Blogger

Danny tweets at @DannyGRM

Christmas Comes Early In Barnet

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

The club was plummeting out of the Football League faster than Felix Baumgartner from the stratosphere, spiralling, in danger of losing all control. Suddenly, out of nowhere, (well actually from Enfield’s 5-a-side Astroturfs) came a little, bespectacled, Dutch maestro to bring hope to the Underhill faithful that things may not end in a splat. All Edgar Davids has to do is to release the parachute, causing millions of morbid YouTube viewers to turn off their computers simultaneously in disappointment that things have not ended as horribly as first anticipated. Before we get ahead of ourselves, that release cord is still a long way away and is going to require some serious strength to pull.

Enough of mad parachutist metaphors! Metaphors aren’t really necessary anymore, in a world where former Dutch and Barcelona legends turn up at Underhill and ask if they can play, the real events don’t really need embellishment.

Last time I wrote about Barnet was two days before the most bizarre news story in Football had emerged, causing my blog to go out of date quicker than warm milk. The shock effected everyone, suddenly Barnet were a major news story and their plight had become common knowledge. The added pressure seemed to get to the players, they decided to give Davids a clear example of what he had got himself in for by producing their worst performance of the season, losing 4-1at home to Plymouth Argyle. Edgar was sat in the stands, hurriedly scribbling notes (most believing it was most likely the first draft of his resignation letter).

Whatever was in that notebook has seemed to have had an effect, maybe it was a self-portrait of himself in the amber and black since he decided to get his boots on much earlier than anticipated. Only a week after agreeing to help out, he gave a performance which proved any of his doubters wrong and showcased the sheer class he still brings to a football pitch. After a close first-half, and a couple of trademark meaty tackles from the little maestro, Barnet scored 4 second-half goals to record the first win of the season against a good Northampton side.

By no means was it all down to one man either, his presence seemed to buoy all the players. Most of all John Oster rose to the occasion, demonstrating why he used play in the Premier League, he finished off a brilliant team move with a daisy-cutter into the bottom corner from 25 yards. The marked difference on the field was the presence of a leader, Edgar barked orders to his new team-mates, berated lapses of concentration and cajoled his troops. The result was a feeling of confidence emanating from Underhill, the passes were hit with greater conviction, first touches less nervy and there was a decisiveness in defence which had been sorely lacking previously.

Such was the excellence of the performance, the fans who made the short journey to Wycombe on Tuesday evening were demanding a win. Football fans are the most fickle of people; suddenly the depression has been replaced by unrealistic expectations of a team still trying to find their way out of the relegation zone. In the first half of the game, the players gave the fans everything they desired minus a goal or two; the play was expansive, beautifully deft touches from Davids were only eclipsed by Clovis Kamdjo, whose range of passing has at least doubled since the arrival Davids. Clovis has always been a favourite of mine, mainly for his work ethic and his effectiveness in breaking up play, but once on the ball he has never convinced me he knows what to do next. Within a week, Davids has seemed to breath confidence into him enabling him to take more time on the ball, get his head up and spread the play himself.

The second half brought back memories of the Barnet of old, passes going astray, lack of forward threat and Davids tired as the half wore on. There was however something different; the Barnet goal remained in tact, the players dug deep and produced a gritty defensive performance to withstand a late Wycombe charge. Oster almost stole the points with a rocket from 30 yards which Nikki Bull kept out at full stretch. It was a marker of how far the club has come in a week that the fans were imploring the team to attack in the final minutes rather than cling on to the point they had. In the cold light of day, the 0-0 final score represents a success once put in perspective of the problems faced by the club. As a mathematically gifted fan sat in front of me remarked, 4 points from every 9 available will mean safety from this point forward. I haven’t actually done the maths on that but he was very convincing!

One of the most interesting facets of the arrival of Edgar Davids is where this leaves Mark Robson. It is hard not to believe that he won’t feel undermined by the appointment of a joint Head coach. Paul Fairclough claimed that Robson had ‘a job for life’ when he arrived but  this has been brought into question by Davids appointment, since it was largely brought on by the failures of Robson’s regime. I believe that Fairclough still wants to stick with Robson and that Robson is part of the ‘Grand Plan’, realistically, one doesn’t feel Davids will be around too long before someone else wants him and it feels like Robson is ‘on ice’ for when he inevitably rides off into the sunset.

In the meantime, how Robson and Davids work together over the next few months will be intriguing. Robson has not made himself particularly visible since Davids arrived but the players did make themselves clear during the 4-0 demolition of Northampton that they had his back by running over to celebrate with Robson after the third goal. The situation is a question of Robson’s character, is he happy to let Davids to take centre stage and take the praise if things go well? Or will he try and impose his will over the squad and take Davids head on in a power struggle? One hopes he will be modest enough to welcome ‘The Davids Effect’ and reap the benefits, both personally and as a team, of working with such a legend of the game.

Even if Davids goes tomorrow, this has been one of the best moments to be a Barnet fan, it’s just shame we are still bottom of the league!

Written by Doug Pyrke, We Are Going Up’s Barnet Blogger

Doug tweets at @dougiepyrke