The dreadlocks and the impressive range of eyewear made Edgar Davids one of the most iconic footballers of the last decade. A move to Barnet can hardly be described as iconic but the eyewear is coming to Underhill. The mercurial Dutch midfielder has announced his intention to rescue his ‘hometown’ club as player/coach.
Davids’ flamboyant look was matched on the pitch as the gifted midfielder enjoyed a glittering career across Europe. But his decision to join the League Two club makes it the most unlikely outpost on Davids’ European adventure. A man that once graced the fields of the Nou Camp and the San Siro has now taken up residency at the Football League’s basement club. I have only been lucky enough to watch a game at one of these grounds and the match between Barnet and MK Dons was hardly inspiring.
So is this just a gimmick or something more serious? Of course, Davids has previous here. Two years ago, Crystal Palace claimed to have secured the coup of the season as Davids agreed to join the south London club. That coup only lasted seven games with the Dutchman putting in some indifferent performances. Barnet fans you have been warned.
However this time it could be different. Davids has been handed greater responsibility at Underhill after agreeing to work alongside head coach Mark Robson. The ground is also only a mile away from where Davids currently lives so you sense a genuine bond could develop between players and fans. Such a bond will be needed quickly if Barnet are to rescue their season and avoid relegation from the Football League.
The challenge facing Davids and Barnet was starkly highlighted over the weekend as the team suffered a 4-1 home defeat to Plymouth Argyle which left them winless this season and seven points adrift from safety. Davids also announced his intention to resume his playing career and the temptation must be to get him on the pitch as soon as possible to help stop the rot. But can Davids still cut it? Top players often struggle to retire, the lure of another season is always just too difficult to resist. League Two may not be Serie A or La Liga, but it still places physical demands on the body
which a 39-year old Davids may struggle to overcome.
The body may suffer but the football brain remains intact. It is without doubt that Davids possesses a good footballing brain and the midfielder may be advised to focus his energy on the whiteboard rather than on the green pitch. After all, this will prove to be the barometer of his success at Barnet. His best playing days are behind him. He has to embrace the new phase in his career.
Ultimately the move to Barnet could be mutually beneficial to both parties. Davids undoubtedly brings star quality, especially when moral at the club must be hitting rock bottom. And for Davids, it might be the perfect start to a successful coaching career. The transition from top player to the dugout is not an easy one, especially if you are used to playing consistently at the top. The chance to reinvigorate a struggling side might just be the learning curve that makes Davids a better manager in the future.
For the time being, Davids faces a good old English relegation dog fight.