Angus MacDonald looks back on Edgar Davids' time at Barnet Football Club.
In the end it perhaps wasn't a surprise to see Davids leave. As Josh Ilan so eloquently said in his excellent piece in the programme on Tuesday, it was more of a surprise that he was ever here in the first place. Of course that barnstorming introduction of Edgar Davids, captaining the Bees to a fantastic 4-0 win against Northampton in his first game, will go down in Underhill folklore.
The 2-1 defeat up at Chester which was almost immediately followed by the absent Davids' resignation by mutual consent was rather meek by comparison. He leaves the side 10th in the league, only 3 points off the play-off places (I seem to have been saying that for a few blogs now...). As Paul Fairclough said after Tuesday's defeat to Aldershot, time is beginning to run out for a promotion push.
For me the one thing Edgar Davids brought to the club was standing and a raised profile, which led to hitherto unimaginable 10 minute slots on Football Focus and FA Cup draws. Phil Neville even commented on the Dutch legend's managerial stint, bizarrely questioning the number of cones at The Hive and saying there would be dogs running around the training pitch - cue the perfect response from Edgar - there's only one dog on the pitch - the pitbull!
Now you might well say that no Neville brother has ever said anything vaguely sensible, and you may be right, but I thought that little exchange perfectly encapsulated both the publicity that Davids gave the club with Premiership football captains suddenly commenting on the goings-on at Underhill and also the good humour and humility of a former Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan and Barcelona player falling in love with the game again in the lower leagues.
Let's not forget Davids joined the team in an almost impossible position with Barnet gaining just 3 points from the first 13 games. To go down with over 50 points, agonisingly on goal difference, was probably above par for the games he was in charge.
This season, with almost the same side, 10th place with 29 games played seems under par. I think Edgar and his players would freely admit that. There was talk of not all being well and Davids not travelling on some of the longer away trips did make some question his commitment to the Barnet cause. But as Graham Stack and others have said this week, he brought a hell of a lot to the club.
Talking to Welling United fans after a game against them, I politely enquired as to how many Champions League winners had played for them. They just laughed in my face (I have got used to it over the years), but why not? The idea of a Champions League winner playing at this level is pretty ridiculous. But it happened. And Barnet fans should be thankful it happened to their club.
And if the attendances are down in the Skrill Premier and the media interest has dissipated following the departure of the division's biggest star, the goading fans and players who have at times acted pretty disgracefully against one of the great starts of the game will be sorry he has gone too.
Best of luck Edgar. And if you end up with Clarence at AC Milan can you loan us Mario Balotelli for old time's sake?