Without trying to sound like too much of a curmudgeon, it’s easy to see Bolton striker Kevin Davies as a throwback to simpler footballing times. In this hallowed era of tinfoil boots and spindly pre-pubescent physiques, for a man of his proportions to make it into the national squad is nothing short of a minor miracle – at least until you look a little more closely at the facts.
With Jermain Defoe, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Bobby Zamora all injured, Emile Heskey retiring after 11 long years of indifference and pretender to the throne Andy Carroll succumbing to a viral infection that has rendered him useless at domestic level (that’s Newcastle’s official line anyway), it seems like Davies may be the only fit English forward left in the top flight.
Even still, the call-up certainly came as a shock to the man himself;
“It was a shock to be honest, the call came through and I had to sit down for five or 10 minutes and let it sink in and then it was like, is this a wind-up?
But then I had to wait for confirmation later on. It’s taken a little bit of time to sink in but now it has I’m really proud.
Now I’m in the squad it’s an opportunity to go down there and impress and show them what I’m all about and obviously I want to play a part in the game next week.
I’m really excited about it and it’s an opportunity I didn’t think was going to come my way.”
Many are irked that a 33-year-old veteran has been called into the England fold as his inclusion shows a lack of progressive youth-orientated thinking on Fabio Capello‘s part (35 in 2012, 37 in 2014 etc…) but that’s really not the case. Davies’ inclusion should be viewed as a one-off affair, a steadfast auxiliary brought in to cover for all the aforementioned omissions and, as such, I think it should be applauded.
For years he has been a solid performer in the Premier League and there is nothing disparaging about that, in fact it’s highly commendable. How many times have we seen the form and function of the great and the good of the top flight fluctuate wildly? Whilst his ‘peaks’ aren’t oxygen-thinningly high, his ‘troughs’ are certainly few and far between.
Davies’ scoring rate has always been comparatively low (although it has improved vastly over the past two or three seasons), but given the role he undertakes as an old-fashioned link-man, it’s perfectly understandable – his sizeable contributions come elsewhere.
For a generation weened on freestyle frippery and superfluous trickery, the art of an effective five-yard pass or instant control is often lost. Davies is often maligned as a lumpen ‘battering ram’ striker chiefly due to the fact that his actual talents are not overtly showy and therefore easily taken for granted.
Yes, he puts the sh*ts up defenders with his raw physicality and he also hemorrhages free-kicks like nobody’s business, but he’ll also run through brick walls for the badge on his chest, he’s a damn-sight better in the air than most of his current international contemporaries and his (supposedly ungainly) touch and technique is both understated and massively underrated.
Take Bolton’s goal against West Brom at the weekend, there was nothing particularly complex about it but Davies’ cushioned touch to play his strike-partner Johan Elmander in was exquisitely consummate in the truest sense of the words – would you back a talentless extrovert like Nani to pull off the same pass successfully? You sure as sh*t wouldn’t my friend. You’d put your house on him lousing it up by attempting some kind of preening showboat monstrosity.
As I’ve mentioned, at the age of 33 his maiden call-up cannot be construed as anything other than short-termism on Capello’s part, but it still gives me a warm feeling to know that, in Davies, England are capping a player that actually deserves it, especially when you consider that they regularly hand them out to players who don’t.