Edgar Davids – The Footballers Football Column: Players are predators that"s why Benitez may struggle at Chelsea

EDGAR DAVIDS: Players are predators that's why Benitez may struggle at Chelsea… And sometimes the best players are not the most talented – just look at Roy Keane

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Edgar Davids today launches a new series of columns for Sportsmail titled The Footballers' Football Column. They're about the game, written by people involved in the game.
European champion Davids has won 11 major trophies (and we mean 'major', we're not counting Super Cups and Community Shield-type trophies). He was capped 74 times for Holland. Now player-manager at League Two Barnet, 'The Pitbull' has plenty to say…

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Who are you People chant it at stadiums – 'Who are ya Who are ya' – but I think it’s a funny thing to sing, even to the opposite team, because what are they actually asking

Ask most people and they will say their name or profession, but you have to know who you are, both physically and mentally. It’s really important in football, because then you know your trigger points, how to adapt and improve.

It’s one of the first things I do when I start working with players, especially the younger ones.

Post man: A 19-year-old Davids defending the near post for Ajax in November 1992

Post man: A 19-year-old Davids defending the near post for Ajax in November 1992. It was at Ajax he played on with serious dental work

As a footballer, for example, sometimes you have pain. But
is it pain you can play with, or will playing only make it worse I
think more than 70 per cent of players play with injuries.

They always have something wrong with
them. I can’t even remember playing a game without pain. People don’t
see the determination behind getting on the pitch every week.

If your manager needs you to play it’s like: 'Yes sir, I will play.'

I remember at Ajax getting a kick in
my face and when I touched my mouth for the first time I couldn’t feel
any teeth. I had almost about 40 injections and braces and the next day I
went in for training.

The manager wanted me back the following Sunday and that was it. Get on with it.

I know myself, so that’s the main
thing. Visually, my trademarks have always been my glasses and hair. My
knowledge of myself hasn't changed much over the years.

You need to develop and stay ahead of
the competition. Being a coach now, you see some young guys who don’t
know themselves – but they think they do.

Some of them really in believe in the
hype. When they’re asked who they are, they would say 'a football
player'. They believe all the hype that comes with that.

That's why I can understand people thinking Arsene Wenger should bring back Thierry Henry to Arsenal. If you have a young team, you also need guys to guide them.

With Thierry, he’s a charismatic
person and he was Arsenal’s team leader for a long time. He knows the
dressing room and how the club works.

Pain game: Davids, 39, suffers an arm injury during Barnet's draw at Exeter last weekend

Pain game: Davids, 39, suffers an arm injury during Barnet's draw at Exeter last weekend

It’s very important to have someone
like that, who isn’t a coach or an assistant manager, because most of
the time, the coaches have got to keep a professional distance from the
players.

If you look at a player like Roy
Keane you would say: 'He’s a great player but you don’t see the
leadership and the energy he transmitted to the team which make him a
world class player.

You can’t measure that. Sometimes the
best players are not the most talented, but what they do for your team
is very, very valuable: they help your team keep its shape, desire and
discipline and they know their limitations.

King Henry: Thierry scores to make it 7-1 to Arsenal against Blackburn last February. His worth to Arsenal is more than just goals

King Henry: Thierry scores to make it 7-1 to Arsenal against Blackburn last February. His worth to Arsenal is more than just goals

Keen on Keane: Manchester United's former captain, here clashing with Arsenal's Patrick Vieira in 1991, was not the greatest talent but was a top, top player

Keen on Keane: Manchester United's former captain, here clashing with Arsenal's Patrick Vieira in 1991, was not the greatest talent but was a top, top player

THE NEXT FOOTBALLERS' FOOTBALL COLUMN…

Tomorrow: Mad Dog Martin Allen – Did I dive 'Course I did…

Then you have players who are
brilliantly gifted but, if they’re having a bad day, it’s like playing
with 10 men. If he’s on fire, it’s like playing with 12, so you have to
take that risk because he’s that good.

In south America it’s different – if
you’re that good they’ll just leave you be – but, in Holland, we have
been taught that everybody has to be the same.

My philosophy is a little bit
different. If the group accepted it, I did too. Is this how I want to
play, or not You have to be flexible, but you can only be flexible if
you know yourself.

Football players can be like predators.
They will study you. They will try to find your weakness. It’s ego. The
guys who are not playing will watch you like hawks. They will be on
your case because they all want to play in their position no matter who
the coach is.

If a player or a coach is under
pressure and the others think he is going to leave there is only brief
respect. That could be hard for Rafa Benitez, for example.

Captain, leader, Pitbull: Barnet player/manager Edgar Davids makes his point to referee Christopher Sarginson at half-time during the 2-2 draw at Exeter last Saturday

Captain, leader, Pitbull: Barnet player/manager Edgar Davids makes his point to referee Christopher Sarginson at half-time during the 2-2 draw at Exeter last Saturday

The main man: Davids (centre) has been installed as the solo head coach at Underhill after Mark Robson (left) departed the club. Director of football Paul Fairclough is seated (right)

The main man: Davids (centre) has been installed as the solo head coach at Underhill after Mark Robson (left) departed the club. Director of football Paul Fairclough is seated (right)

I don’t know what the dynamics are at
Chelsea, but if everyone knows a manager is only going to be there for
six months it’s very hard.

We have a saying: 'New round, new
chances'. That’s why you usually see an immediate improvement when a new
manager comes in, because that little game is starting again.

Football is very passionate,
of course it is, but it’s also a business. As a player, you want to
improve, you want to have a certain salary, play in the position you
want to play and maybe have a shot at a championship or play in the
Champions League.

You don’t think about playing in a
different shirt in front of different fans. It’s more about wanting to
go somewhere at the top and improve yourself. It’s a short career, after
all. But if you play for certain teams with certain fans winning and
high in the hierarchy is living the dream.

UEFA Champions League Final, Vienna, Austria, 24th May 1995, Ajax 1 v AC Milan 0, Frank Rijkaard (centre) and team-mate Edgar Davids hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their victory

Torres warning: The Chelsea striker, in action during the 5-1 demolition of Leeds, must score more goals according to Davids

Show us your medals: Davids lifts the 1995 Champions League trophy with Frank Ri9jkarrd at Ajax and Torres (right) in action during the 5-1 Capital One Cup demolition of Leeds, needs to score more goals

Money often plays its part in
football. If you’re the best player but you’re not paid the best wages,
you can feel and can be seen lower in the hierarchy and that’s a pride
thing.

If you’re the best player you want to
be paid the best wages. It’s not necessarily about the money but it’s
about feeling appreciated and your skills and worth recognised. Titles
and a reflective wage is relevant is all businesses and industries.

Look at Fernando Torres at Chelsea.
He joined the club and he sat on the bench, but he still earned his
money and got a Champions League winner's medal. Would he have been
happy No.

He’s a good player but he hasn’t
scored too many goals for Chelsea. Now he’s doing better but he’s a
striker: he’s got to score more goals. He would definitely want to be a
more dominant force for his side than he currently is.

TOMORROW'S FOOTBALLERS' FOOTBALL COLUMN: MAD DOG MARTIN ALLEN – DIVE 'COURSE I DID