By Jason McKeown
For a long time it seemed as though the relationship between Andrew Davies and Bradford City was one of short-term convenience that could never last.
Signed on loan from Stoke City in September 2011, the 27-year-old was reportedly earning £15,000 a week yet had made just two appearances in three seasons for the Premier League outfit. With his lucrative Potteries’ contract due to expire at the end of the 2011/12 campaign, Davies rocked up at Valley Parade seemingly to place himself in the shop window for bigger and better things.
He quickly showed himself to be far, far too good for the humble surroundings of League Two. Not surprising given that reputed wage package that we could never hope to match. So we had a player we could not afford normally, looking to impress potential suitors by impressing with us. Very convenient.
Yet almost two years on, Davies remains a key part of City’s plans and – a year after agreeing a one-year permanent deal – has this week committed for a further two years. He will be 30-years-old by the time his freshly signed contract expires. These are the peak years of his professional career, and he is choosing to spend them in West Yorkshire.
The reasons for doing so are numerous. The struggling League Two outfit that Davies first joined has progressed into one that many are talking up as being capable of being promoted to the Championship next season. That appears to be Davies’ natural level and, although he has talked of receiving offers to move this summer, it is doubtful that he would have attracted interest beyond a League One outfit. Any transfer move now would probably have been sideways.
And, more importantly, Davies’ unsettled career may have emphasised the virtues of the stability offered at Bradford City. This is Davies’ 11th different club, after numerous short-term loan moves fizzled out and he struggled to make the first team of his two previous parent clubs – Middlesbrough and Stoke. When available, Davies has been Phil Parkinson’s first choice. The risk of moving on would be a discontinuation of that. He has spent far too much of his career sitting on various substitute benches.
So a short-term relationship of convenience has grown into one where both parties are willing to make a more serious commitment. And, perhaps for the first time, City can look at Davies as not someone far too good to be here, always destined to depart sooner than later, but as part of the furniture.
As such, there will now be even greater demands and responsibility entrusted upon him. Since signing on loan during the early days of Parkinson’s reign, Davies has appeared in only 63 of the 106 games City have subsequently played. Four red cards (three in his first season) have been a contributory factor to this lack of game time, as was a bad injury picked up at Burton Albion last October which ruled him out for three-and-a-half-months. This robbed Davies of any hope of being considered for player of the season, despite the fact he barely put a foot wrong when he did play.
Such lack of availability may have been unavoidable at times (two of the four red cards were highly questionable, in my view), but City need Davies’ appearance record to improve over the duration of his new contract. Evidently the best centre back City have had since David Wetherall, Davies is the next Bradford City captain in waiting. He will also be entrusted with helping to develop the promising young centre half Carl McHugh (who Parkinson is a big fan of).
In relationship terms, City and Davies have moved on from a few tentative dates and updating their Facebook statuses so they say ‘in a relationship’, to moving in together. A relationship of convenience could now develop into a full blown, happy marriage that lasts for many years.