Edgar Davids’ CV reads like a who’s who of European football; Ajax, Milan, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona and now Barnet.
It’s quite possible that Davids’ Wikipedia page is the only place where you’ll ever see the Bees mentioned alongside these European giants. But as of Friday the 74-cap Dutchman is player-manager of League 2 Barnet FC, sharing the managerial duties with Mark Robson, who’s been head coach at Underhill since June.
Davids, who’s arguably as well-known for his trademark sports-goggles as he is for his tremendous footballing ability, was a tough yet stylish midfielder. Barnet hope that in his new job he can inspire the team to once again defy the odds and avoid relegation from League 2.
The Bees are renowned escapologists having left it until the final day of the last three seasons to secure their League 2 safety. This season looks set to be an even bigger struggle than usual for Barnet who were rock bottom of the Football League with just 3 points so far this season and no wins in their last 13 matches prior to Saturday’s visit from Plymouth Argyle.
However the hope is that Davids’ reputation and more importantly his knowledge of the game can save Barnet from relegation to the Blue Square Premier. Davids, who was apparently living locally, was approached by the club and he accepted their offer after seeing the club’s facilities and Academy.
Over the past few years Barnet have gained national recognition for their work in the community and their investment in the Academy. Though Barnet is one of League 2’s smallest clubs it prides itself on being family orientated.
Davids’ arrival generated much hype and excitement before Saturday’s home game against Plymouth. The West Country visitors had only won two league games this season before travelling to Barnet.
A far more positive vibe could be felt in and around Underhill before kick-off. News of the Champions League winner’s appointment sparked a wave of positivity on Barnet’s internet forums. The attendance had more than doubled since their last home game against Exeter City from 1,483 to 3,229.
Unfortunately the pre-match buzz was well and truly crushed by a typically error-strewn Barnet performance.
The Edgar Davids reign got off to the worst possible start when Mark Byrne conceded a penalty that former Llanelli striker Rhys Griffiths converted. Just 9 minutes later they were further behind thanks to a Blanchard header. David Stephens looked to have given Barnet hope with a scrappy 16th minute close-range strike. But a Cowan-Hall goal midway through the second half and an added time free-kick by Luke Young meant the game finished 4-1 to Plymouth, who are now 18th in League 2.
It was the same old story for Barnet who didn’t seem at all inspired by their big-name-manager’s arrival on Friday.
Fans left the ground feeling much the same way they’d felt before Davids’ arrival, and on internet forums after the game they vented their collective fury. Barnet fans are a patient bunch. They’re used to seeing their side in relegation scraps, but there seems to be genuine anger at the current situation.
If Davids didn’t understand the task facing him before, he surely will now.
Davids has joined a club that lacks confidence and desperately needs a turnaround in form. His celebrity status will bring a lot of attention to the London Borough of Barnet but fans are hoping that his appointment was more than just a gimmick aimed at increasing attendances in the short-term.
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the bottom club in the Football League, Davids can take comfort in the knowledge that this is a club used to (successfully) fighting relegation. If any club in League 2 is capable of turning this situation around, it’s Barnet.
Good Luck Mr Davids, you’re probably going to need it!