LAST summer, Curtis Davies thought his time at Hull City was over. He now doesn’t know if the club wants to keep him beyond next summer. But, despite the uncertainty surrounding his future, the defender’s sole focus remains on helping the Tigers back into the Premier League
The 30-year-old has enjoyed a revival in fortunes this season after suffering a torrid time last term.
Dropped by Steve Bruce in February following a slump in form, Davies became the forgotten man at the KC Stadium during a run-in that culminated in relegation.
As captain and ‘Player of the Year’ in 2013-14, it was a dramatic fall from grace and one that left the defender believing his time was up in East Yorkshire.
“If I am totally honest,” said Davies ahead of today’s Championship game with Blackburn Rovers, “I worked hard in pre-season because I thought I might leave.
“I hadn’t played for five months and I hadn’t spoken to the manager much about it. I wondered if it might be time to move on and have a change of scenery.
“So, I wanted to be fit. If I was going to be at a new club, I wanted to be one of the fittest players. I have obviously ended up staying here and it has worked to my benefit that I have come back super fit.”
Davies, an ever-present this season for the Tigers, is back to his best and City are feeling the benefits. Whether they will continue to do so beyond next summer remains to be seen with the defender yet to receive an offer to extend a contract that is now well into its final year.
He is far from alone in this respect, with the deals of Tom Huddlestone, Ahmed Elmohamady, David Meyler, Curtis Davies, Allan McGregor and Sone Aluko all due to expire next June.
Steve Bruce has already spoken of his desire to address the matter during the upcoming international break.
“I have to be open-minded because I have not had a contract offer,” said Davies when asked about his long-term future. “It is no secret that when I was ‘Player of the Year’ there were talks about a new deal. That didn’t happen.
“Most other clubs, anywhere in the country, would at least open talks with players when they are rolling down through the last 18 months. That hasn’t happened.
“In terms of my long-term future, it is down to the club, really. I can only sign if an offer is put in front of me. It is important for me to just carry on playing my football and see what happens.”
Asked about Bruce’s plan to address the contract situation next month, Davies replied: “The proof is in the pudding. It is all well and good saying you want to do this or that but, judging by what happened to a few of the lads last year, I wouldn’t be too confident, if I am honest.
“There was a player (Paul McShane) who played the last 15 games of the season ahead of me who got released. So that sort of sums it up.
“You wonder why I thought I might leave in the summer? If there was a player who got released after playing the last 15 games of the season in the Premier League, you could understand why I thought my future might not be here.”
For now, Davies is concentrating on City’s promotion bid. Today, his task will be to try and shackle Jordan Rhodes, a striker whom Bruce admitted yesterday came very close to signing during the summer of 2014.
Only a late veto on the deal by Blackburn owners the Venky’s kept the former Huddersfield Town man at Ewood Park and he will, no doubt, be keen to show Hull what they missed out on today.
“I am enjoying football again,” said the City defender ahead of facing Rhodes. “As much as you have the ups in football, you have the downs as well. You have to be philosophical with both. They happen for a reason and now I am getting back to playing well. I want to keep that going.
“We can talk about what’s made the upturn but, with all due respect, now I am playing in the Championship. It is not the Premier League.
“The Championship is a league where I would expect to do well. It is a league where I have been in the ‘Team of the Year’ two out of the three times I have been in it. Those are the standards I have set myself and I don’t want to fall below them.
“As for last season, when you are not in great form individually, usually the team lifts you up. The team was not doing very well either and other individuals, who had done so well the year before, weren’t at their best.
“There was no-one to dig us out of the hole at the time. Confidence suffers when you are not playing well. I always felt good going into one game but when the upturn didn’t happen it would be a stumbling block.
“Any player that has a bad game – even if he has had 10 worldies around it – is going to think about their form. It was a worry but this year I was always going to be confident in this league that I could do good things.
“In a position like a defender, you can do great things for 89 minutes and then make one mistake or a slip, it can trigger you. You start thinking, ‘Here we go again’. It is important to be mentally strong, which I have been this season.
“For me, last season petered out because I wasn’t playing and then there was a hamstring injury. But I started this season and was happy to be playing. As soon as I was playing, it wasn’t going to be a problem.
“As I have said before, it is one thing to not play in the Premier League but, for someone like myself, to not play in the Championship in the last year of your contract would have been career suicide, in my opinion.
“I couldn’t have afforded to do that. I would have had to look elsewhere. But that is last season, it is done and dusted. Now, I can only look onwards and upwards, and help get this team back in the Premier League.”