Davies back but not at full speed
Davies has yet to score for the first team in any of its preseason friendly matches, but he's not alone. Sochaux has three other senior forwards --
That's partly why coach
Gillot has given Davies playing-time: against Evian, Southampton and Strasbourg, and he handed him the captain's armband in a reserve-team match against CFA, in which he scored. "I still have work to do but I'm on the right path," Davies wrote on his Twitter page after the game.
But the coach has pointedly played down expectations of Davies, who made an impact last season in his second Ligue 1 match, with two goals from the bench in a 3-2 defeat to then-champions Bordeaux. "It will be difficult to count on him as he still has some physical limitations and has had to relearn everything," Gillot said after the Freiburg game. "For him, it is also hard but it's clear he is not at the level he was when he joined us."
Those comments will be a huge concern to Davies and his entourage. The player has never stopped believing in himself and has the goodwill of his Sochaux and U.S. teammates, as well as over 60,000 Twitter followers, spurring him on. But if his fitness test results are poorer than they were 12 months ago, and his burst of pace over the crucial first yard is not what it was, as Gillot is appearing to suggest, then Davies will find it hard to get a regular place in this team.
To have even reached this point in his recovery is an astonishing achievement, according to
Crevoisier is close to Gillot and visited the team at its preseason training camp in Switzerland. He holds a PhD in psychology and conducts psychological and motivational testing on youth players at the Sochaux academy (he also does similar work for Arsenal). "If you are not strong in your head, you are dead," he continued. "So you must be strong in your head. But if physically you are not 100 percent, even if you are strong in your head, it won't work."
Davies may well accept that he is not yet at his optimum, and Crevoisier is right to credit his mental strength, which has been exemplary, even inspirational, ever since the accident. The likelihood, though, is that Gillot, who only last week signed Maiga from Le Mans as a certain starter, will begin the season with Davies on the bench.
The story could then go two ways: best-case scenario is that Davies becomes an "impact sub," coming off the bench late on and making a difference once the opposition have tired. It's an important role in the team and one he would relish. Worst-case, though, makes for grim reading: Davies stays on the bench or even worse, out of the squad, and as time goes by, Gillot is forced to admit that he has lost faith in the forward.
With one week until the season begins, it's still too early to predict how this one will play out. Sochaux's first match next week is against Arles, another team tipped for relegation. Lose that one, and