TEAMtalk Meets: Bolton's Kevin Davies

Mark Holmes caught up with Kevin Davies to talk Fernando Torres, 'buying' fouls, going over too easily, shoving and shirt pulling, and England.

Last Updated: 07/12/12 at 11:26 Post Comment   

Kevin Davies: A bit of a legend

Kevin Davies: A bit of a legend

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You can listen to Mark's full chat with Kevin here, but below are some of the highlights.

Mark Holmes: Fernando Torres got back to goalscoring form on Wednesday night - how much of a part does confidence play as a striker?

Kevin Davies: It's crucial, but I think quality always comes through and Torres has certainly got that.

Everyone can see he's been lacking a bit of confidence, and often when you come off these bad runs and hit a couple you tend to go on a good run so it'll be interesting to see how he goes from now on.

MH: Torres plays as a lone striker which is a role you've played a lot, and it's not all about scoring goals in that position, is it?

KD: No. It's quite an unselfish role. I've played it and for me it's all about getting the team the right result. Scoring 15-20 goals yourself and getting all that glory, that's never been my style really.

You want to score the first goal to get the boys going or get the winning goal to win the points so you certainly need to add goals to your play, but it's certainly not the be all and end all.

MH: Rafa Benitez has praised Torres for winning headers in his own box. As a striker, can you build up confidence by winning your headers, holding the ball up and maybe claiming an assist, or do you need to be scoring to feel good about yourself?

KD: I've always got as much satisfaction out of creating goals. And obviously as a striker you have to get back to help out.

I think if you're a striker in confidence you do things naturally; the first touch, the movement, all of that comes naturally when you've got the confidence in yourself but when you're not so confident you start to think about your first touch, think about your movement and where should I be.

MH: What advice would you give to somebody like Torres, who has lost some of their pace?

KD: I think that can be attached to the confidence thing, if you're thinking 'oh he's going to catch me'. Whereas if you're flying and you're banging the goals in and everything's coming off you get that extra yard or that quickness in your first few strides.

I'm not so sure whether Torres has lost his pace; I'm sure the fitness people down there will have all the stats. Maybe he has, maybe he hasn't, but I believe that (apparent lack of pace) could be attached to his confidence as well.

MH: A lot of people have said that the price tag might have played on his mind. Did you find that when you joined Blackburn from Southampton (for £7.5million)?

KD: I went as a 20, 21-year-old - you're still a young boy then. When you're older and wiser and that bit more experienced I think it's different.

I think some of the young boys who go with the big price tags that can play on their minds, and they might have a bad game and read things on the sites - some players go on there and see the stick - and I think it can all build up on them and they start being a bit concerned about the things they're doing.

Whereas when you're confident you don't need people to tell you you're doing well because as a player you know yourself when you're playing well or not, you don't need to pick the paper up on a Monday to see you've got a 6 or a 9 from a reporter.

I think at that age he'll cope with that (the price tag), I'm not too sure that's why his performances have been affected.

MH: Something you've become famous for at Bolton is giving away but also winning a lot of free-kicks. Is that a coincidence because of the position you play in or do you work on drawing fouls and knowing when is the right amount of contact to go down?

KD: I don't think I buy many fouls recently. Most of the fouls tend to be aerial battles when you get a shove from behind. I don't say I go to ground too easily and even if I do I know the amount of hits I've taken. Broken cheekbones and things like that I always bounce straight back up from; I don't think the physio's been on once since I've been here.

A lot of people highlight the amount of fouls I give out but it's not often the other stat gets brought into play, but I'm used to it now, I just get on with it.

MH: Didier Drogba was the master at winning free-kicks and it's often described as good play, yet as soon as a player goes over slightly too easily in the box he gets criticised. Where do you stand on that, if a defender slides in or sticks a leg out do you think you've got a right to go over, or do you think you should stay up no matter what?

KD: That's a tough one. With Drogba he had the physio on probably two or three times a game, which for someone of his build I always found quite irritating. I don't like to see players feigning injury or trying to earn other players yellow cards but unfortunately that's part of the game.

Getting your team some sort of advantage by getting them booked or possibly sent off is not a side of the game I particularly like.

I've always found that one a difficult one with buying penalties and stuff. We had El Hadji-Diouf (at Bolton) who was the master at it but I don't think he took many dives, I just thought he knew how to draw the tackle and that for me is quite clever. And when he was playing for us getting free-kicks in and around the box and wide they proved dangerous for us because we were handy from set pieces.

But that wasn't from someone saying before the game saying go down under any contact, it was clever play really.

MH: The trouble as I see it is that players that try to be honest and stay on their feet in the box don't tend to get penalties, even if they have been impeded.

KD: I think I could have plenty more penalties and free-kicks. I always try to stand my ground when someone's climbing all over me, I will try to hold my ground and try to use my strength to the best I can, but sometimes it's impossible and that's when you look to the referee to help you out a bit. [If he doesn't give a penalty] should you say, next time I'll go down? It's not something that comes naturally to me.

MH: Can you understand, though, someone like Luis Suarez going down in the box because of the amount of times he tries to stay on his feet but doesn't get a penalty?

KD: You see some of the incidents and goes down far too easily for my liking. It's the boy cried wolf and it's a difficult one for the referee because they'll be going back and looking at the incidents where he's gone too easily with no contact or gone down before there is contact. Then when the ones come along that he is caught, what's the referee going to think? That he's doing the same (going over too easily).

MH: Something else that a lot of people are complaining about is shirt pulling and holding in the box. As a striker, would you like to see more penalties given for this?

KD: I always like to see defenders getting tight and tough, and as a striker when you've got someone who's all over you like a rash it's good defending.

The shirt pulling, yes it's a foul and when it's done when someone's going clean through on goal it should be punished. But when someone's getting yellow carded in the opposite half when the guy's going nowhere, to get a yellow card for that...I know it's a rule, but I don't see how you can give a yellow card for that and then someone goes in for a strong challenge and gets the same punishment. I think that's a bit weird really.

MH: What people don't say, of course, is that whilst a defender is holding there's probably an attacker backing into the goalkeeper and standing on his toes and another one pushing the defender to get a run on him. But it's all part of the game, isn't it?

KD: Of course it is. Obviously the defender doesn't want to lose his man, the striker's trying to earn a couple of yards, and when that's happening something's got to give.

There's often collisions, blocks, the goalkeeper getting blocked in, it all goes off in a game. I think sometimes [referees] see it as six of one and half a dozen of the other so I think that's why you don't see too many [penalties given]. I've had my shirt blatantly pulled with the referee 10-15 yards away in the box and it's still not been given.

I don't think it's something that's done intentionally. As a striker you feel to see where the defender is and sometimes you naturally want to grip them and keep them there. You're not intentionally trying to hold their shirt but you're taught to feel for the defender and that's just something you do sometimes.

MH: Grant Holt said last season that he felt you had to play for a big club to get an England call-up. You got a call very late in your career and then never again so do you think there's some truth in that ?

KD: I think the unfashionable players or the players that don't play for fashionable clubs, it's often harder for them to get in. I don't think the England players are often picked on form, I just think it's often the same players that are in there.

It's changing a bit with Roy, he's getting young players in and having a look at them, which is great, but that'll often frustrate someone like Grant Holt, who last season scored a lot of goals.

Sometimes I think it goes on name. If someone like Andy Carroll has moved for £35million, naturally he should be in the England squad.

Kevin Davies has been asking children in Bolton to 'come out and play' for the 2012/13 npower Football League Kids Cup. To find out how to enter the tournament, visit: www.npower.com/kidscompetitions

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