David Davis (footballer)
Davis with Birmingham City in 2016
|Full name||David Lowell Davis|
|Date of birth||20 February 1991|
|Place of birth||Smethwick, England|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|2009||→ Darlington (loan)||5||(0)|
|2010||→ Walsall (loan)||7||(0)|
|2011||→ Shrewsbury Town (loan)||19||(2)|
|2011–2012||→ Inverness CT (loan)||14||(1)|
|2012||→ Chesterfield (loan)||9||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 09:50, 19 March 2017 (UTC).
Having trained with Walsall's Centre of Excellence as a boy, and then played local football for Tividale, Davis began a scholarship in Wolverhampton Wanderers' youth academy in 2007. He turned professional in 2009, and made his senior debut the same year while on loan to Darlington of League Two. He spent time on loan at three other clubs in the lower leagues – Walsall and Chesterfield of League One and League Two Shrewsbury Town – as well as at Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle, before making seven appearances for Wolves in the Premier League at the end of the 2011–12 season during their unsuccessful fight against relegation. Although playing fairly regularly in the Championship, he never established himself as a consistent member of the starting eleven as Wolves were again relegated. He fell out of favour the following season, and left for West Midlands neighbours Birmingham City in August 2014.
Early life and career
Davis spent time in Walsall's Centre of Excellence as a boy, and then played local youth football for Tividale. Spotted by Wolverhampton Wanderers as a 15-year-old, he had trials with the club and was given "a year to try and impress" before beginning a two-year scholarship in 2007. According to his first-year academy profile, he was a midfielder who "shows good versatility and all round game" and was "adept in possession." In 2009, Davis was one of seven academy players to sign professional contracts.
First-team football on loan
Davis joined League Two club Darlington on 22 October 2009 on a month's loan (later extended to January 2010) to gain experience of first-team football. According to manager Steve Staunton, who had watched him play against Arsenal Reserves, "he's combative, he's excellent on the ball, he's strong and he's a good passer". He made his senior debut in the starting eleven at Barnet two days later; the Northern Echo reported that he "showed some promise" but "wasted a great scoring chance" when he beat the offside trap only for his lobbed shot to go over the bar. In a 5–2 defeat at Chesterfield, he was used as the defensive organiser in a five-man midfield: the Echo's reporter described how he "sat in front of the back four and barked out orders" but thought his passing "left a lot to be desired". After a 4–0 home defeat by Morecambe, Davis was one of five players left out. He remained out of the side for three matches, then bad weather left Darlington without a match for several weeks, so he returned to his parent club. He had played five league matches and once in the FA Cup.
In September 2010 he went out on another month's loan, this time to League One club Walsall, where he had spent time as a junior. The Birmingham Mail reported that on his debut, in a defeat at Rochdale, he had "a quiet first half but showed some impressive touches in the second period and fitted well into Walsall's 4–3–3 formation." His captain, Darren Byfield, "thought David was superb. Usually when you have players who love to tackle and get in your face, they can't use the ball – but he was playing balls around the corners and off the strikers. You can see already he's not one of those who come from the Premiership thinking 'what am I doing here?' He's listening to people and his attitude is superb." He played the whole of Walsall's six matches during his initial month, apart from the last 15 minutes against Swindon Town when he was stretchered off with an injured ankle. The first five of those six – four losses and a draw – saw Walsall drop from 13th place to bottom of the table, and, again according to the Mail, Davis "did as well as can be expected from a 19-year-old pitched into a team in freefall". The loan was extended for another month, but because Wolves had injury problems, manager Mick McCarthy included a clause allowing them to recall him at 24 hours notice if they needed him. Davis played just once more for Walsall before he was recalled. With three first-team midfielders unavailable, McCarthy included him on the bench for Wolves' Premier League visit to Chelsea; he remained unused.
After more appearances on the first-team bench, and a sending-off for a "reckless challenge" in a reserve-team local derby against West Bromwich Albion, Davis signed for League Two Shrewsbury Town on 31 January 2011 on loan for a month, later extended to the end of the campaign. He went straight into the starting eleven and "combined a crispness in the tackle with an impressive range of passing" in what the Shropshire Star called "a highly intelligent display" as Shrewsbury beat Burton Albion 3–0. He "rifled home a first time shot from just inside the box" for his first senior goal to equalise away to Northampton Town on 5 March; Shrewsbury won 3–2. In all, Davis made 19 league appearances, all as a member of the starting eleven, and scored twice. His second goal, on the final day of the regular season contributed to a 3–0 defeat of Oxford United, but Wycombe Wanderers' win meant Shrewsbury missed out on automatic promotion and went into the play-offs instead. Davis played in both legs of the semi-final, in which his team lost on aggregate to Torquay United.
Wolverhampton Wanderers debut and more loans
During his time with Shrewsbury, Davis extended his contract with Wolves until 2013. He made his debut for the club in the League Cup second-round tie away to Northampton Town on 23 August 2011, coming off the bench for the last few minutes as Wolves won 4–0. A week later, he made yet another loan move, this time to Scottish Premier League (SPL) side Inverness Caledonian Thistle until January 2012.
Ahead of his debut, he said he felt the intensity of the training sessions had improved his fitness, and while admitting that the standard of the SPL would be rather higher than he was used to, he hoped to prove himself ready and able to play regularly. He started the match against Hearts on 10 September, a 1–1 draw in which he played 65 minutes, received a standing ovation, and was the Scottish Express reporter's "calm and creative" man of the match. He made 14 appearances in the SPL, all starts, and scored once, with a curling shot from 20 yards (18 m) after three minutes of the 3–2 home defeat against Motherwell. He also experienced his first senior sending-off; after his "surging run" and cross set up a second-minute goal for Jonny Hayes against Dundee United, he was yellow-carded for a tackle on Gary Mackay-Steven that caused a collision in which Davis's teammate Chris Hogg suffered serious knee damage. Another foul on Mackay-Steven in the 83rd minute earned Davis a second yellow card.
Manager Terry Butcher had hoped to keep Davis and two other loanees for the whole season, because they had all performed well and he had no budget to add to the squad, but the player chose to return to England where he could go on loan somewhere closer to his parent club. According to Butcher, Mick McCarthy "felt David had gone away a boy and returned a man, as regular SPL action had developed him physically and improved his match awareness."
A few days after his spell at Inverness ended, Davis joined League One side Chesterfield on loan for three months. He was ever-present over nine league matches and also played twice in the Football League Trophy, a cup competition open to teams from the third and fourth tiers of the Football League; a 3–1 aggregate win against Oldham Athletic in the Northern Final earned Chesterfield a place in the final itself. On 6 March, he was recalled by Wolves' new manager, Terry Connor, after an injury to Karl Henry left Wolves in need of midfield cover. Davis himself felt that the possibility of playing Premier League football for Wolves far outweighed the prospect of a Wembley final.
First-team football with Wolves
Davis made his Premier League debut in Wolves' 2–0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers on 10 March 2012. He played 75 minutes before coming off with cramp, and produced a "courageous performance" that earned him the club's man-of-the-match award. He kept his place for the next match, against Manchester United, broke a rib in the first half, but still went on to make seven top-flight appearances as the team unsuccessfully battled relegation. Towards the end of the season, and despite having signed a new deal less than a year earlier, Davis signed a three-year contract to run until 2015. In recognition of his performances, he received the club's Young Professional of the Season award.
When Davis and other youngsters signed new deals in 2011, McCarthy had said they stood less chance of first-team football in the Premier League than when the team were playing in the Championship. A year later and back in the Championship, Davis was in the team at the beginning of the season, but lost form and returned to the reserves. By November, he was again challenging for a first-team place, and manager Ståle Solbakken turned down the chance to re-sign Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, still regaining fitness after serious injury, preferring to let the home-grown product prove himself. Davis featured regularly, but more often from the bench than in the starting eleven.
Dean Saunders, appointed in January 2013 as Wolves' fourth manager in twelve months, brought Davis into the starting eleven as a holding midfielder alongside Karl Henry for two matches. Those were his last starts until 16 March, when he returned against Bristol City, only to give the opposition the lead when his backpass went through the legs of goalkeeper Carl Ikeme. Wolves finished as 2–1 winners, but Ikeme was unable to play the second half after punching the tactics board in the dressing-room at half-time and breaking his hand. Two weeks later, he "produced arguably his best display yet in a Wolves shirt" when involved in all three goals in a 3–2 win away to Birmingham City that took his side out of the relegation positions. His season was cut short when he suffered an ankle injury against Bolton Wanderers on 6 April which ruled him out for the rest of the campaign, which ended in the club being relegated to League One.
Davis began the 2013–14 season in the starting eleven under yet another new manager, Kenny Jackett, but soon lost his place amid competition from new signing Kevin McDonald and two younger midfielders, Lee Evans and Jack Price. On his last start for Wolves, on 16 November, he was reportedly fortunate not to be sent off before being substituted at half-time. Thereafter he played only 54 minutes of first-team football as the team were promoted back to the Championship at the first attempt, and although Jackett insisted that he still had a future at the club, Davis became frustrated. Ahead of the new season, Jackett suggested that, as there were at least four players more likely than Davis to be selected, a loan move would be best for him. Barnsley of League One were interested, but terms could not be agreed.
On 11 August 2014, Davis moved to West Midlands neighbours Birmingham City of the Championship. Viewed as a replacement for Tom Adeyemi, who had just left for Cardiff City, Davis signed a two-year deal with the option of a further year. The fee was officially undisclosed, but was variously reported as approaching or around £100,000 or as "a knockdown £150,000". He made an "outstanding" debut the next day in the first-round League Cup win against Cambridge United, partnering captain Paul Caddis in central midfield, and scored his first goal, a second-half equaliser away to Charlton Athletic on 4 October, with a "crisp drive inside the post from a tight angle".
Regular football improved his confidence and with it his effectiveness. Under Lee Clark, he started regularly but was often substituted; under Gary Rowett, who replaced Clark in late October, he played every minute of Birmingham's league fixtures, usually partnering Stephen Gleeson in a 4–2–3–1 formation, until injuring a knee in mid-February. He missed the 4–3 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion, in which the local newspaper attributed Birmingham's defensive frailties to his absence. On his return, away at Ipswich Town, his presence achieved more in attack than defence, twice – with a header and then with a volley – restoring Birmingham to only one goal behind before Ipswich secured a 4–2 win in stoppage time. Rowett signed Nottingham Forest midfielder Robert Tesche on loan on 2 March. Initially he played alongside Davis in place of the suspended Gleeson, and then as part of a three-man midfield, but when Rowett reverted to 4–2–3–1, it was Davis who missed out.
According to the Birmingham Mail's end-of-season review, "for most of the season no other midfielder could challenge [Davis] in terms of energy, tackles, clearances or blocks", and he was a close second to 16-goal striker Clayton Donaldson as their player of the season. Nevertheless, he lost his starting spot to new signing Maikel Kieftenbeld, and Rowett thought that his anxiety to regain his place in the team made him try too hard when coming on as a substitute. After a strong performance in the League Cup against Premier League Aston Villa, Davis started and played well in two consecutive away wins, but his next start did not come until mid-March. Away to Wolverhampton Wanderers, he came close to scoring the winning goal and, according to Rowett, "controlled the match with his physicality. He gets about the place, he holds people off and comes out with the ball. He does that really, really well." The club promptly took up their option for a further year on his contract, and Rowett said they were considering an extension until 2018. Davis scored his first goal of the season in the penultimate match, a "brilliant half-volley from the edge of the area" after the ball was not fully cleared by the defence, to secure a draw at home to Middlesbrough. Although he started a third fewer Championship matches than in 2014–15, he established himself in the team towards the end of the season because of what the Birmingham Mail viewed as the stability he gave to the side.
Although the return of Tesche on a permanent contract seemed likely to endanger Davis's first-team place, he began the 2016–17 season in the starting eleven. He was booked in each of the first four matches, but two goals and a series of strong performances meant that when the fifth booking finally arrived in mid-October, he came straight back into the side after serving his suspension. He was named man of the match in the Second City derby against Aston Villa. Initially used on the right of midfield to counteract the attacking threat of Jordan Amavi, he moved into a more familiar central role after David Cotterill entered the match, and within minutes scored the equalising goal with a composed finish from the edge of the penalty area.
January 2017 began with six months left on his contract and the club linked with signings in midfield; new manager Gianfranco Zola confirmed that Davis had "a big future" with the club, that Zola and the staff trusted him and that agreement on a new contract was imminent. On 13 January – amid reports of Davis being a transfer target for divisional rivals Nottingham Forest, Queens Park Rangers and Fulham and two days after Birmingham re-signed midfielder Craig Gardner – he signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract.
Style of play
On joining Walsall as a 19-year-old, Davis described himself as "the type of player who likes to break things down and do what I call the 'nitty-gritty'. I like to get stuck in and work hard". He is primarily a defensive midfielder, reportedly priding himself on "ball-winning ground-covering defensive midfield work"; his major contribution to his team comes from "flying around midfield winning the ball and disrupting the opposition". Lee Clark suggested he looks best when using his power and strength and keeping his use of the ball simple. Dean Saunders mentioned his "winning mentality"; according to the Birmingham Mail's Brian Dick, "when Blues are down no-one leads by example quite as much as Davis".
- As of match played 18 March 2017
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||2009–10||Premier League||0||0||0||0||0||0||—||0||0|
|Darlington (loan)||2009–10||League Two||5||0||1||0||—||—||6||0|
|Walsall (loan)||2010–11||League One||7||0||—||—||—||7||0|
|Shrewsbury Town (loan)||2010–11||League Two||19||2||—||—||2[b]||0||21||2|
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle (loan)||2011–12||Scottish Premier League||14||1||1||0||—||—||15||1|
|Chesterfield (loan)||2011–12||League One||9||0||—||—||2[a]||0||11||0|
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I know supporters love to see home-grown players coming through – well so do we. ... I love to see the young players get through. But they will only do it if they are good enough and it is certainly harder for them now. At one stage we were feeding players into a Championship team and you've more chance of that than a Premier League team.
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Inverness will not exceed their playing budget for the season and Butcher reckons the chances of retaining defender Golobart (Wigan) and midfielders Davis (Wolves) and Chippendale (Huddersfield Town) beyond next month are good. He said: 'I am quite confident we can keep all three at the club. ... They have all done very well and their presence would be invaluable between now and the end of the season. ... Agents are ringing me up and asking what I am looking for but I am not looking for anyone as I don't have the money to do it.'
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In many ways it was the game’s most satisfying as Wolves pieced together a cohesive move which began with Doyle and Ebanks-Blake spade-working possession to Bjorn Sigurdarson. He, in turn, teed-up David Davis just outside the area. Davis went for a composed side foot finish which stretched Jack Butland so far he could only palm the ball away – for Hunt to score on the follow-up. Seven minutes later, Blues defended a Davis cross feebly, giving Ebanks-Blake a comfortable headed finish. Then the young midfielder's growing influence in this revival was underlined by the long-range pass which sent Doyle surging beyond defenders after 37 minutes. A heavy touch succeeded in luring Butland into a rash challenge and a clear penalty, which Ebanks-Blake deposited with the confidence that is now returning to a previously battered and bewildered team.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to David Davis (footballer).|
- Profile at Birmingham City F.C. website