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The Davids Effect? By: Eric Hitchmo 07/11/2012
Torquay United H
06/11/2012   (Click date for match details)
League 2012-2013
W  1- 0
Attendance: 1544  (274 Away)
More On Torquay United

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As some of you may be aware, I am fond of a statistic or two. They do tend to tell a story. On that basis it should be an open and shut case that the reason why our fortunes have turned of late is because a certain Edgar Davids has entered the starting line up and taken joint charge of the team. Since Davids named had some time with the team and named himself captain against Northampton we have gained ten points, as opposed to the three points from the twelve games that preceded it. It's very hard to argue against stone cold facts, but can the turnaround be entirely attributed to the new faces at Barnet Football Club?

We had demonstrated the odd glimpse of having some sort of ability in the opening quarter of the season, however it just wasn't enough. Suddenly with a flick of a switch, we have looked far more organised with a rock solid defence. We have embarked on a run of four clean sheets in the league, something we have not done for over ten years. Suddenly the league table does not look so bleak, as we have hauled ourselves away from the foot of the table, on Goal Difference at least. The sinking ship appears to have recovered somewhat.

On the other hand, whilst defensively David Stephens and Krystian Pearce form a considerable backline in front of the excellent Graham Stack (early criticism of Stack is incredibly misplaced), we do still appear to have a little bit of an issue going forward. The strengths and weakeness were underlined in Tuesday night's victory over Torquay. It was the sort of game where on the balance of play we didn't deserve to win, and earlier in the season would probably have lost, however this new found resilience prevented our visitors from severely testing our goalkeeper on a regular occasion.

And when you need a hero to step up, cometh the hour, cometh the man. With our first meaningful attempt on goal, Clovis Kamdjo was put through by Jake Hyde and finished beautifully into the roof of the North Terrace net.

As you may have guessed, it was a game of little opportunity for us. There was little to no spark or creativity in the final third and the final ball was almost always lacking. Torquay's back four were given very little of note to deal with, meaning that plenty of focus remained on our defensive third. Our defenders were up to the task, with David Stephens winning everything in the air and Krystian Pearce looking just as assured and dependable as he has done throughout his entire loan spell. Elliott Johnson, product of the youth system, made his full debut at left back and despite a hairy moment early on where a rash challenge could quite easily have conceded a penalty (you've certainly seen them given) he certainly didn't look out of place or out of his depth at left back.

Fortunately, the penalty wasn't awarded by the notorious official Darren Deadman whose fussy performance was a typical flurry of whistle blowing with a generous helping of yellow cards. The away side and their followers in particular were vociferous in their disapproval but let's face it, he's the same all the time. To lay the defeat at his door as it appears to have been by the Gulls' management would be silly. I think it may be more prudent for them to analyse their ineffectiveness and wastefulness in attacking areas.

We did not have much cause to be wasteful as we didn't really get into telling positions. On the few occasions we did, you never felt we looked like scoring. A lone striker and a frustrating insistence on sideways or backwards balls was not conducive to free-flowing attacking football. We have missed the influence of Ricky Holmes going forward, though that is rather contradicted by the fact that without him in the team we haven't lost. I am of course not blaming Holmes for our start to the season.

How much of this sharp upturn in fortunes can be attributed to Davids then? Is it merely a coincidence and the work that Mark Robson had done was bound to lead to this anyway? It's hard to argue in favour of that after such a drastic improvement. It's worth noting that Davids is still a very good player in midfield and his influence on the play is great, even at the age of 39. He also appears to be talking his players through the 90 minutes, barking out orders and making sure they stick to the task at hand. It's much easier to do that from the middle than from the sidelines. I'll be keen to see for how long 'The Davids Effect' continues.

With no cup games to concern ourselves with, we can fully focus on the league and continue this burst in form to take us to unprecedented heights. I mean, just imagine if we could make it to the heady heights of 15th?! Despite being 23rd, at least now we have some form of foothold to be able to leap away from danger. Just three weeks ago that didn't seem at all feasible, unless your head was firmly in the clouds. Upcoming games against perennial mid-tablers Morecambe, who have real issues with playing in their new home, and a visit from the ever-dull Accrington Stanley should provide more opportunity to improve in a league that, one or two teams aside, is once again full of teams that are just about as good, or bad, as eachother.

Our longest ever run of league clean sheets is seven in 1984/1985, but let's not get carried away just yet...

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