Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Steve Davis: Euro flame still burns

OCTOBER 7

Things are not going well for Fulham. Coming off the back of a good performance at Chelsea we were looking to turn our season around a bit.

Although we haven't won a lot of games, we have not been taken to the cleaners but this was our worst performance of the season.

Portsmouth came to Craven Cottage and outplayed us and in the end we were lucky to get away with a 2-0 defeat.

We played Pompey in pre-season and drew 0-0 but you can't take too much from that game.

But this time they really took the game to us and I think Harry Redknapp will do very well with them this season.

As for us, we just have to keep going. Surely our luck will turn soon - but if we keep playing like this we'll only have ourselves to blame.



OCTOBER 12

I meet up with the rest of the Northern Ireland boys tomorrow and the international break has probably come at a good time.

It is sometimes a good thing to have a little time out from your club when things aren't going the way you would like.

The start of the season has been tough on us and even though the last international trip was by no means filled with fun, I can't wait to meet up with the rest of the lads and try to put things right.

We know we let ourselves and the fans down in the last two matches and there is no way we'll be making those mistakes again.

I can't really let myself think about qualification for Euro 2008 after those two defeats last month. If we're all being honest, we only have an outside chance now but the one thing about us is that we will fight to the end.



OCTOBER 13

The Northern Ireland squad met up today minus the injured players. Losing the likes of Damien Johnson, Michael Duff, Jonny and Keith Gillespie through injury was bad enough but Chris Baird and Warren Feeney are missing too, through suspension.

One thing I will say though, the camp is certainly a lot quieter without Feeno and especially Keith.

They are the boys who keep the banter going but we got straight down to business and trained and everyone came through fine.

We sat down to watch the Rugby World Cup semi-final too which was something a little different.

I can't say I'm much of a rugby fan but when tournaments reach their final stages I tend to turn it and we had a bit of craic watching it as a group.



OCTOBER 15

Other than media commitments and training, there isn't much to do on international trips other than rest as much as we can and make sure we're eating the right things.

Of course it is always a massive honour to go away with Northern Ireland but I'm sure a lot of the lads would admit it can be quite boring being cooped up in a hotel for a number of days.

Thankfully training is breaking that up and we were allowed to go for a walk into Stockholm for a while to today and although it was just a case of grabbing a coffee, a change of scenery always helps.



OCTOBER 17

It doesn't matter how many times you play in big games, there are always some nerves.

Playing for Northern Ireland is always a big deal and I did have a few nerves going into the Sweden game but as a group there was an added drive to do well and prove any critics wrong.

Thankfully we played out of our skins and got a point.

In the time I've been playing for Northern Ireland, this is definitely the best performance away from home and I think we were unlucky not to actually beat the Swedes.

My old Villa team-mate Olof Mellberg opened the scoring for them but we got stronger as the game when on and Kyle Lafferty scored a great goal.

I was delighted for the big fella because he took a lot of stick on the night but held the ball up well and gave the midfield time to get up in support of our strikers.

Thankfully we gave the fans another night to remember and they backed us to the hilt but we know we have to give them another two nights like that next month.

But this was the real Northern Ireland and hopefully those defeats to Latvia and Iceland can be consigned to history.



OCTOBER 18

Last night was fantastic for us but it was up at the crack of dawn again to travel back to London and no time to reflect on a job well done.

It's straight back into Fulham for Aaron Hughes, David Healy and me and there are three real 'six-pointers' coming up in the Premier League against Derby County, Sunderland and Reading.

Lawrie Sanchez didn't say anything to me about the international match this time but I know he spoke to the other lads.

This time it was Gibbo (Terry Gibson) and Bes (Dave Beasant) who wanted to know how everything went and they are always genuinely delighted when Northern Ireland do well.



OCTOBER 20

A game against a side near the bottom of the table is always one you have to make sure you pick up all three points in.

The Premier League really does consist of the big four, then there's another mini-league beneath them battling for everything else.

That's why today's game against Derby was one where we really needed to pick up points in.

But typically, this game never gives you what you expect and we only draw 0-0.

We actually had more of the game when we went down to 10 men after Paul Konchesky was sent off but you can't help feeling the tide will never turn.

Still, we didn't lose and conceding late goals has been a problem we've been trying to stamp out.



OCTOBER 24

I haven't really been socialising with the Fulham boys away from training or match days yet which is a something new for me.

We are a pretty tight group, very similar to Northern Ireland in fact, but with the players living in different part of London and surrounding areas it's not easy trying to arrange something.

The likes of David (Healy), Aaron (Hughes) and Chris (Baird) are busy with their families so we don't see each other as much away from the club as much as people would think either.

It was different for me at Villa because I was very friendly with the guys I grew up with at the club but hopefully in the coming weeks we'll be doing a lot more together, away from the club. Team bonding is something that always helps and definitely brings the squad closer together.



OCTOBER 27

Planes, trains and automobiles - we've done it all at Fulham already this season.

A lot of the time, travelling to away games, you sit on a coach for a few hours but our travel arrangements have kept me amused so far.

When we played at Wigan last month, we travelled there by train which was a novelty for me but it was really good. It's not something I ever did at Villa and a lot of the lads relaxed a lot more.

For today's game at Sunderland we got a chartered flight which was handy.

It's vital to relax as much as possible ahead of a big game and this was another one of those six-pointers.'

We took an early lead and things we looking good but yet again we conceded that dreaded late goal and ended up drawing.

Is this ever going to end? Sometimes I really do wonder.

Lawrie said after the game that we'd be at least nine or 10 points better off if we hadn't lost late goals this season which would have put a very different complexion on the table.

But we haven't been battered this season and we are still in every game so I am sure we will turn things around.



OCTOBER 28

Hughesie was asking me today about the book on the Lawrie Sanchez years which is coming out soon.

I'm sure there will be a lot of good memories in it for the fans but although I was asked to take part, I chose not to.

Maybe I was wrong but when I was asked to do it, it looked like I was leaving Villa to go to Fulham and I didn't want to come a across as trying to get in favour with the manager.



OCTOBER 29

From time-to-time we have to go to club events and it was my turn tonight.

Our sponsors LG were having a function and I went along with Paul Konchesky and Seol Ki-Hyeon.

We thought it was great; we came home with a fancy new mobile phone each - that was until I got home and opened the box.

There it was staring at me, a lovely bright pink phone. So, an early Christmas present for my girlfriend, Tracey but she seemed happy enough.



OCTOBER 30

I see there's been a lot of talk about a possible Great Britain team in the Olympics.

From what I hear, the Scottish, Welsh and Irish FAs are against any of their players taking part in the Games in 2012.

That's a shame because it would be a great experience to perform at the Olympic Games and as a sportsperson I would love to take part in some way.

Smaller nations like Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales don't get the same opportunities as England at big events but this could be our chance in the future.

But before any of that, Euro 2008 is what I'm looking for.



  • Can I say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the text competition last month to raise money for Myeloma Awareness UK. I hope the winners enjoyed their prizes.

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