TO force through his on-off loan move to Sheffield United from Blackpool, Steven Davies last month had to make a personal plea to Lee Clark.
Now, after netting twice in as many outings for the Blades over Easter, the 27-year-old striker admits it is another manager who he wants to hand the ultimate thank-you present to come the end of the season.
“I owe Nigel Clough so much,” the 27-year-old striker told The Yorkshire Post. “We were together at Derby County but I decided to leave (in 2012) even after I’d been offered a new deal.
“I do feel like I owe him because Nigel kept in touch with me after I left Derby. He always has done. He continued to say nice things about me, even when I was playing against his team.
“That is why I wanted to come here and help his team get promoted.”
Davies’s double over Easter – he broke the deadlock at Barnsley a week ago and then netted the winner against Doncaster on Tuesday – certainly helped in terms of keeping the Blades on course for a possible return to the Championship.
An advantage over the chasing pack that stood at five points going into the holiday weekend now stands at eight, meaning a place in the top six is very much United’s to lose over the course of the final five games.
If the Blades can earn a third tilt at the play-offs in four years, it will provide further vindication of Davies’s persistence in wanting to seal a much-touted move to Bramall Lane.
Clough had tried – and failed – several times to get Blackpool to release a striker he had managed for three-and-a-half years at Derby.
As the season moved into March, however, the United chief tried again and, this time, the Seasiders were willing to do a deal.
“It was on and off so many times,” said Davies, who is again expected to spearhead the attack at Oldham Athletic today.
“But I saw it as a move I was determined to get done. You look at the history of the club and size – and the team we have here. I just wanted to sign.
“From my own point of view, I had to be selfish. I left a great club in Blackpool, and it was tough to leave because I have fond memories. It hasn’t been great there lately but I have a lot of great friends there.
“That is why the past week was hard because of what happened to (relegated) Blackpool. I also want to see Lee Clark do well. I know things are tough right now but Lee will get it right.
“Going down could do them a favour. They will be a big team in League One and that will give the fans something to cheer about.
“On a personal level, though, I did see moving as a decision I had to make for my career. I didn’t want to go down with Blackpool and for me to miss my chance.
“The manager here also made it clear he still wanted me. He’d been willing to wait and that felt good, too.
“So, I went in to see Lee Clark. I wore my heart on my sleeve by saying, ‘I want to be at Sheffield United’. All credit to him, he let me go.
“Me going to see the manager was just something I felt I had to do. I had fallen out of form at Blackpool because my head was all over the place.
“The chance had come up to join Sheffield United so many times and while I tried to keep working and doing well for Blackpool, the last three or four games my performances weren’t good enough.
“Lee Clark had always been good with me so I wanted to be open with him. I didn’t want him to play me and for me not to be at my full potential.
“It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying. Just that my head was all over the place. Psychologically, I didn’t know what was happening in my career.
“I didn’t know if the chairman (Karl Oyston) still wanted me. There were numerous times when he had spoken to clubs and said I could go.
“I felt wanted by the management team but not by the club – and it was something I didn’t take lightly.
“I spoke to my wife and she has known Nigel for many years. We decided it would be best for my career if I came to Sheffield United and tried to repay the faith he showed in me.”
Clough has been delighted by Davies’s impact so far in a Blades shirt. It may have taken until the striker’s sixth start for a goal but the United manager had already deemed the move to be a success before that first strike at Oakwell because of his all-round play.
The Blades have a host of midfielders who are relishing playing off a striker who can retain possession and Davies has provided that foil, as was best illustrated in the recent 4-0 win over Scunthorpe United at the Lane.
He was also integral to United taking control against Barnsley and he then followed that by firing in an unstoppable winner against Doncaster Rovers.
“The game was a little bit too open for our liking, especially after the tough game we’d had on Saturday,” said Davies about Tuesday’s 3-2 victory.
“It took us 15-20 minutes to get into it. All credit to Doncaster, they were brilliant and really got the ball down.
“They tried to play but the big thing for us was we showed a different side to ourselves. Since I came here, we have played in many different ways.
“For me personally, that felt the most pleasing because we were in a battle. We showed great character and scored some great goals. Easter has been good, in that respect. People have seen two different sides to us and we won both games.
“Look at any good team in the country or world and they need different strings to their bow. It wasn’t pretty at times but we dug in and backed each other up.
“The gaffer commented afterwards about the team spirit and how good it was. I’ve been lucky enough to be at a lot of clubs where the team spirit was excellent but there is a real togetherness here.”