Kevin Davies Reflects on Big Sam's Bolton Tenure

  • March 30, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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Kevin Davies has taken a look back at his career at Bolton and the success brought to the club by former manager Sam Allardyce.

Davies, who made 407 appearances for Wanderers between 2003 and 2013, was a key component of Allardyce's team over a number of years and went on to achieve legendary status by serving a further six seasons following the manager's resignation in April 2007.

Now aged 44 and working as a football agent, Davies believes Allardyce was ahead of the times in his early days with the Trotters and it came as no surprise to see opposition bosses adopt his off-field methods.

"Sam had a bit of a habit of picking players up when somebody had lost their way," Davies told the All to Play For podcast.

"He took me on trial and I ended up starting every game in my first season. I won Player of the Year, we got to a cup final and qualified for Europe the next season.

"The mentality that Sam brought to the club, it just clicked.

"We had the likes of El-Hadji Diouf, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Youri Djorkaeff, Jay-Jay Okocha and Ivan Campo. We had some quality players yet we were tarnished with being route one.

"I remember going in after 10 games for an appraisal. Sam had amazing staff around him and gave us the best opportunity to be the best players we could.

"He brought Prozone in, we had ice baths, he changed the diet. He wanted this source of information to give us - and him - the best opportunity to succeed.

"He surrounded himself with top people and when he left, they all left for top clubs.

"We loved a bloody nose, really. Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham would all come. We'd bully them and Sam loved it on the sidelines.

"He'd be in the dressing room telling us to put a marker down and he loved it. We loved that underdog mentality."

Following promotion to the Premier League in 2001, Wanderers escaped relegation in their first two campaigns back in the top-flight prior to Davies' arrival before succeeding in achieving four consecutive top-eight finishes in the years that followed.

Davies refused to take all the credit, however, believing it was the signing of Youri Djorkaeff that really put Wanderers on the map as a club capable of luring top-level talent to the then Reebok Stadium.

"I'm still in touch with Sam and see a few presentations from him - Djorkaeff was key and the first big one on the hook," Davies said.

"Rather than bring him to Bolton - no disrespect to Bolton town centre or the stadium - he went to meet him in Paris.

"He did a fantastic presentation, the money was pretty good and he sold him the dream.

"We had a decent training ground being built so we were on the way up and he bought into it.

"Sam got him and I think it was then a case of the others following suit but we had a core of the British mentality in there.

"(Hidetoshi) Nakata came, (Mario) Jardel came in from South America - it was crazy. We had about 18 different nationalities but everyone had to speak English and we all got on. We all worked hard for each other and it was a great squad.

"Players had won major trophies - Stelios won Euro 2004 - and we had a tight connection within the group. When Sam left, that all started to go downhill.

"We created this environment. Sam had player liaison officers who just took care of houses and schools, which allowed the boys to just get their heads down and concentrate on their football.

"The players just hit the ground running. We had a brilliant team spirit. Sam and the players all got on, we'd have a social at just the right time and there was a great work ethic - we worked hard and played hard."

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
14 Charlton Athletic 21 26
15 Cambridge United 21 26
16 Bolton Wanderers 21 26
17 AFC Wimbledon 19 24
18 Lincoln City 20 21
View Full Standings >>


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