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Bradford City: Out of the way! Here comes Andrew Davies
Rory McArdle may have just pledged his future to the claret and amber cause but he knows who is the “big noise” of the City back four.
If they can get a word in edgeways, the numbers speak for themselves.
Andrew Davies is the exception to the defensive rule this summer – the only member of the rearguard not to be out of contract.
His signature on a new deal has been arguably the biggest capture of the past two close seasons.
But while Stephen Darby, James Meredith and his regular sidekick McArdle have been involved in negotiations like so many of Phil Parkinson’s squad, Davies has another 12 months of his current contract to run.
He is the counter-balance to the uncertainty affecting those around him. It’s a reassuringly steady anchor.
One man does not make a team – or a defence – but it is hard to argue against the statistics.
Davies made 28 appearances last season, which included 13 wins and eight draws. That’s an impressive points ratio of 1.68 per game – or a total of 77 if extended over the full season.
That would have been enough to pip Peterborough in sixth spot for the final play-off place.
Alternatively, City’s average tally without Davies would have mustered a measly 31 over the full term – 11 fewer than wooden-spoonists Stevenage.
So that’s promotion contender with him, relegation fodder without.
That may be over-simplifying the facts but there can be no doubts about his value to the team.
How about the number of City clean sheets? Of the 14 shut-outs that Jon McLaughlin recorded during his ever-present campaign, only the goalless draw at Crewe in the first week of November was achieved without Davies in front of him.
“Our goals conceded column would have only been bettered by Wolves if we’d had Andrew available all season,” said joint-chairman Julian Rhodes. “That’s the impact he has – and he’s here next season.”
Davies sets the tone. When the ball comes into view, nothing stands in his way.
Carl McHugh found that out to his cost against Port Vale last season when the two defenders went for the same header.
The young Irishman took a mighty smack to the bonce which left both players in need of pitch-side repairs.
“That’s Dava for you,” said McArdle, who last week put pen to paper on a new three-year deal.
“If the ball’s there to be won, I know that even if it’s slightly on my side he will come and get it. If I hear him shouting, I just let him come through – even at training.
“It’s a bit of a running joke with him and Hans (James Hanson). We let those two head it and the rest of us take cover because he’s likely to do more damage to one of our lads than theirs!
“But everyone knows what Dava is like. No matter where he is, you can always hear him in and around the place.
“Nobody likes to be injured and I know how frustrated he gets when he’s not out there playing.
“But credit to him when he was out for that spell. He stuck at it and was constantly in the gym to make sure he was as fit and strong as can be.
“That’s why he came back and hit the ground running. It was like he’d never been away.
“It’s strange how it happens in football but partnerships just strike up. I know how Dava likes to play and I’m sure he is the same.
“In tricky situations, I generally know where he is going to be or what he will do. That’s unless he gets a bit adventurous or tries to head-butt Carl!
“We’re never going to get in each other’s way. I’ll just drop off and cover him or vice versa. It really helps when we know each other’s game so well.”
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