Steve Davis admits he should have stayed at Burnley, rather than join Owen Coyle at Bolton Wanderers in 2010

Steve Davis admits that, with the benefit of hindsight, he should have stayed at Burnley rather than join Owen Coyle at Bolton Wanderers.

Wednesday, 13th May 2020, 12:30 pm
Steve Davis

The four-time promotion winner, as a player and a coach, was left with a difficult decision to make midway through the Clarets' first season in the Premier League, in January 2010.

Coyle departed for his former club Bolton, taking assistant Sandy Stewart with him, with Davis placed in caretaker charge at Turf Moor.

However, with no guarantee there would be a job for him at Burnley under the incoming boss - with former Claret Brian Laws ultimately given the post - first team coach Davis left to renew his partnership with Coyle, along with goalkeeping coach Phil Hughes.

Martin Dobson and Terry Pashley took the reins at Burnley, with Laws installed in time for the next game at Manchester United, but Davis' decision upset a number of Clarets fans, some of which still haven't forgiven him to this day, despite his achievements with the club.

Bolton would beat Burnley 1-0 in a key relegation battle at the Reebok Stadium later that month, as Wanderers survived at the Clarets' expense.

Davis was torn by the decision, and said: "In hindsight, I would have stayed, if I had my time again.

"At the time, there was a lot to weigh up, it was a tough decision - it wasn't one I made overnight, but I had to weigh up everything, what was there and what wasn't, and make a decision.

"I should have stayed, but that's not possible now...

"At the time, any manager could have come in and said 'no, I don't need you, I'm bringing in my own staff'.

"I didn't know who was going to be coming in.

"Stuart Gray came in, and when Brian Laws left, Eddie Howe ended up getting rid of him after a while, so there are no guarantees.

"It was one of those things.

"I could understand the supporters.

"It's their club, and where the club was when we left etc, but it's water under the bridge now.

"They've done brilliantly since, they're on a sound footing financially, Dychey's done a fantastic job, they've got a style and way of playing that's successful for them and they're in a good spot.

"It's thoroughly deserved and nice to see."

It wasn't the first time Davis had left with a heavy heart, having been unable to agree a contract with the club as a player in the summer of 1995, after Burnley were relegation from the First Division under Jimmy Mullen a year after winning the Second Division play-off final at Wembley.

Davis ended up moving for a tribunal-set club record fee of £750,000, joining Luton Town, before returning for the same figure - also a then-club record, in December 1998.

He said: "I think we'd done alright that season, up to a point, and stayed in games and nicked a few wins, but I don't think we scored enough, and conceded too many - same old story.

"Having worked so hard to get up, it was disappointing to get relegated after just one season.

"I was out of contract, at the time I couldn't reach an agreement with the club, they'd made an offer and I didn't think it was good enough.

"They wouldn't budge at that time, they didn't want to pay over a certain amount a week for any player, and it was just a case of 'this is your final offer, you can take it or leave it'.

"Decisions had to be made, I waited to see who might come in, and Luton were one of the first ones.

"I decided to go there. I had a brief conversation with Birmingham, but that was it, I wanted to try and get sorted pretty quickly, there was nothing left at Burnley to keep me there.

"It wasn't easy to leave, and had things been different, I probably would have stayed, but it was a new challenge, and one I really enjoyed."

Davis would be relegated again with Luton from the First Division, but enjoyed his time at Kenilworth Road, where he would link up with a player who would later enjoy a great spell at Turf Moor: "I still speak to a lot of the lads from Luton, I stayed with Graham Alexander for a while at a hotel and at his house, struck up a good relationship with him, which I've still got, so it was a good time.

"I played with some good lads.

"Unfortunately we were relegated again, two in two seasons, which wasn't ideal, but if you don't have the bad times, you can't enjoy the good!"