Davies enjoying Premier League rebirth at Hull

Posted by Philip Buckingham

Chris Brunskill/Getty ImagesCurtis Davies has had a lot to smile about so far in his Premier League return with Hull City.

Curtis Davies is well-versed in having to do things the hard way. Released by Wimbledon at 16, he compiled a CV on his computer and wrote to every professional club in south-east England begging for a trial.

Luton Town were the only team to oblige with the offer an apprenticeship and began a journey that would remarkably see Davies reach the Premier League within just four years.

There, he would craft a reputation as a rising star with West Brom and Aston Villa, earning an England call-up from Fabio Capello in 2008. but a subsequent fall from grace sees the central defender starting all over again with Hull City this season.

Just like his teenage years spent searching for a lifeline, Davies has arrived back in the Premier League with no end of motivation. The backwaters of the Championship were no place for a player who has already commanded 20 million pounds in transfer fees and he has returned hungry to prove his doubters wrong.

The start of Davies’ mission has certainly been encouraging. After weathering a Chelsea storm on the opening weekend to leave Stamford Bridge with a 2-0 loss and pride intact, he was magnificent in the 1-0 win over Norwich as City battled on for over an hour with 10 men after Yannick Sagbo was dismissed.

Another excellent display limited Manchester City to a flattering 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium two weeks ago before he enthusiastically jumped into the spotlight with a first Premier League goal since August 2009 Saturday in a 1-1 draw against Cardiff.

Succeeding where his misfiring strikers failed against Cardiff City at the KC Stadium, Davies’ first-half header was enough to earn Steve Bruce's men their fourth point of the season.

Peter Whittingham’s equaliser gave fellow promoted side Cardiff the greater sense of satisfaction from a fixture neither had done enough to win, but Davies’ heroics at both ends underlined his ongoing revival at the highest level.

Davies is honest enough to admit his career began to derail soon after it peaked in 2009. As a key figure in Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa side that finished sixth in 2008-09, impressing alongside the like of James Milner and Ashley Young, Davies was found knocking on the England door.

Then came a drawn-out trough. Injuries and a lack of opportunities at Villa Park eventually led to his move across the Second City to Birmingham in January 2011, but that option soon looked misguided when the Blues were relegated four months later.

At St Andrews, however, ambitions were gradually readdressed. As a popular captain he matured and developed away from the intensity of the Premier League, and Hull City are the grateful beneficiaries with a 2.25-million-pound deal this summer.

Keeping Abdoulaye Faye, Paul McShane and Alex Bruce out of the side, Davies’ partnership the top-flight freshman James Chester has been heartening for Bruce. Davies, at 28, is the senior partner and appears to relish this instant responsibility. He is the one barking out all the orders, organising a defence that has so far conceded just five goals in four games. Given Hull's start has included trips to Chelsea and Manchester City, it is a respectable record from which to build.

Davies’ first goal did, however, unwittingly highlight the continued shortcomings of Bruce’s side.

The centre-back’s header against Cardiff, nodding in Tom Huddlestone’s wicked cross, remains the Tigers’ only goal from open play this season. Robbie Brady's penalty against Norwich that inspired a priceless 1-0 win last month was the only other cue for celebrations from four games.

Chances to improve that record came and went again on Saturday.
The mercurial Sone Aluko was the stylish engineer of his own chances and saw a goal disallowed for offside, but supporters were less forgiving of Danny Graham.

Two poor misses, one at either end of a tight contest, were costly and extended his sequence of 21 games without a goal. The season-long loan signing from Sunderland was bullishly backed by Bruce to provide City with goals on the eve of the Cardiff game, but the striker’s wait for an impact is fast becoming awkward.

Davies, at least, can have no such worries. Parachuted into a promotion-winning defence alongside the equally comfortable Maynor Figueroa and Allan McGregor, the Londoner is making up for lost time in the Premier League.

The journey to career redemption is only just beginning for Davies but a first month back in the top-flight has shown him little he cannot handle.


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