Sheffield United: How Ben Davies proved he is already a Blade less than 24 hours after arriving on loan from Liverpool

Ben Davies didn’t call his new club Sheffield United. There wasn’t even a mention of ‘The Blades’.

By James Shield
Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 4:00 pm

Instead, after being presented to the media for the first time since arriving from Liverpool, the defender spoke about ‘we’ and ‘us’. It is something which, as well as immediately endearing him to the Bramall Lane supporters, confirmed he has taken no time whatsoever to settle into his new surroundings.

“I felt at home here straight away, I settled in straight away and already feel a part of what we’re trying to do here,” Davies said, after his season long loan from Anfield was processed on Monday. “Everyone is so down to earth,it's been brilliant. That isn’t just the rest of the lads, it’s the manager, his staff and everyone else behind the scenes.”

Davies, aged 26, is expected to make his debut for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side tomorrow when they visit West Bromwich Albion. If he does, it will be his first taste of competitive action since leaving Preston North End in January, having failed to break into Jurgen Klopp’s starting eleven.

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Ben Davies signs for Sheffield United on a season long loan from Liverpool: Darren Staples/Sportimage

Despite his obvious disappointment at his lack of ganne time there - “I’ve really missed that feeling before a game” - Davies told The Star he still feels his time with the former Premier League champions has made him a better professional. Not only because of the standards demanded by those around him in the North-West but thanks to the insight it provided into life at the highest level.

“It’s enormous,” Davies replied, when asked to explain why he described representing Liverpool as “like being in a bubble that you don’t understand until you get there.” “At Preston for example, I would go out of the house for food and a walk and you might get the odd person looking, At Liverpool someone has been over or tweeted and asked me if I’m who they think I am every single time and then wanted a photo. It’s just a world that I hadn't known.”

“It’s improved me as an all-round professional,” Davies continued. “From the first day I went in I felt like I’d grown up a lot.

“To be honest, even though it can be difficult knowing that you’re working all week but probably won’t get a chance, you have no choice at a place like Liverpool but to keep your standards high because you are surrounded by world class athletes who wouldn’t stand for it if you didn’t.

Playing for Slavisa Jokanovic was a big draw for Ben Davies: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“Plus, I’d worked hard for the chance to get there and so I didn’t want to let myself or anyone else down.”

Despite his lack of opportunities under Klopp, who stepped in when a proposed move to United collapsed as they spiralled towards relegation, Davies is hugely experienced at Championship level having made 129 appearances in the competition for North End. Crucially, with Jokanovic switching formations on a regular basis during his first seven weeks at the helm, he is adaptable too; capable of operating at either centre-half or full-back in both a back three and a back four.

“We are satisfied with Ben,” Jokanovic said, acknowledging his name had been recommended by United’s recruitment department at the beginning of his reign. “We believe this guy can help us. He has played a lot of games and he is an experienced player. We need a new body in the building. He will be in the squad for West Brom and we will see what is the best option for us.”

“We are still thinking and looking at the best option for us,” Jokanovic added. “We will use different shapes and he can help us in all of them. I am very pleased to bring him here and, when his name was put forward and mentioned, I pushed for him and accepted that recommendation,”

Ben Davies sis expected to feayure at West Bromwich Albion: Darren Staples/Sportimage

Having progressed through the youth system at Deepdale, Davies spent time with the likes of Fleetwood Town, York City and Newport County before becoming one of the first names on North End’s team sheet. Many of his colleagues at United have completed similar journeys through the game. Enda Stevens, previously of Portsmouth, former Notts County forward David McGoldrick and ex-MK Dons wing-back George Baldock all helped United gain promotion to the top-flight in 2019 and then finish ninth a season later before last term’s chaotic campaign.

“I think you can see and tell who has been through the wringer if you like and come through the leagues because people are grounded,” Davies said. “Not because the boys at the top aren’t grounded but it’s just different paths through.

“It’s really easy to go and stand next to someone who has been on the same journey as you.”

After being beaten by Birmingham City, United claimed their first point under Jokanovic when they drew with Swansea City on Saturday night. Although the result of their opening match under Jokanovic was a disappointment, Davies, who watched both fixtures on television, admitted to having no hesitation whatsoever in accepting United’s invitation to spend the next ninth months in South Yorkshire.

“I’ve got no regrets about going to Liverpool, because I asked the main people around me - my dad, girlfriend etc - and they all said you have to go for it," Davies said. "It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it might never come around again.

“I felt like a mental release when I came in here though. I was looking around knowing that I was the fifth or sixth choice there."

“Coming here to us, it was a huge attraction," he added. "When I saw there were 29,000 fans in for the first game, I want that big match feeling. And the manager, because of his reputation and how he likes to play, that was a huge draw for me as well. I’m sure we’re going to do really well.”