The return of Steven Davis

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September 15, 2012 by Socrates

Steven Davis has a had mixed career but at the age of 27 and after more than four years away, the Northern Irish midfielder finds himself back in the top flight of English football. Given the manner in which he began his time in the premier league, it’s surprising that his move from Rangers to Southampton was so low key. Playing in a largely under-performing Aston Villa side, Davis’ qualities were clear to see. He was voted Aston Villa’s ‘Young Player’, ‘Fan’s Player’ and ‘Player of the Year’ for his displays in the 2005/06 campaign. Indeed his performances were good enough to catch the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson and yet with the departure of David O’Leary, Davis struggled. Under the management of Martin O’Neill, Davis was a shell of his former self. He only managed to keep his place in the side because of his tireless running and pressing style. No longer in O’Neill’s plans, a £4 million move to Fulham followed but it became obvious that all confidence had left him. It was only at Rangers where Davis began to refind his form.

Davis scoring for Villa. He scored 8 goals in 2005/06 but failed to record any under Martin O’Neill

There are still good reasons for Southampton fans to be skeptical about the signing. In the last two seasons that he played in the premier league, Davis was simply not good enough. Too panicked when closed down, Davis lacked both the willingness and composure to receive the ball and was rarely able to play meaningful passes. He only impressed once again when playing in the SPL, where Rangers had obviously played the majority of their matches against much weaker opposition. However, if Davis does recapture the form he showed in his early days at Aston Villa, he could be crucial to the Saints’ hopes of survival.

Captaincy at Rangers has helped Davis no end, and with 51 international caps, he returns to the Prem an experienced footballer

Southampton may not have registered a point yet, but their displays have shown promise. Furthermore Davis played his part in both of their dramatic games against the Manchester clubs. He scored almost immediately after his introduction as a subsitiute against the champions, clinically rounding off a brutal counter-attack. And his determined performance against United forced Ferguson to bring on Paul Scholes to reclaim ownership of the midfield. Although it is still very early on in his time at Southampton, it certainly appears that he has matured during his time in Scotland. His role as captain and the success he enjoyed there (winning the SPL three times and reaching the UEFA cup final) has perhaps brought a confidence and a calmness back. Surely now seeing himself as a senior player at the newly-promoted club, a new mentatility has developed. And he certainly has the footballing qualities to help Southampton. Technically accomplished and if given the opportunity is always dangerous in the final third, Davis is a hard-working playmaker who certainly carries a goal threat. Lining up in a southampton side that appear to thrive playing a high tempo possesion game and boasting attacking talents such as Adam Lallana and now Gaston Ramirez, Steven Davis is surely to be a key man. It seems that Nigel Adkins will back his summer acquisition and it may well prove to be one of the shrewdest signings made by any premier league side this season.

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