'We're Better off without Anelka' Says Davies; Inspirational: Kevin Davies
Byline: CHRIS WHEELER
KEVIN DAVIES might be forgiven for crossing the fingers on his battered left hand if he could and hoping that Bolton's ?12million signing Johan Elmander turns out to be a more compatible strike partner than the club's previous record buy.
Davies suffered more than most during the temperamental Nicolas Anelka's 18-month spell at the Reebok. Shunted out on to the flanks, where his muscular presence was least effective, the 31-year-old's strike rate dipped alarmingly last season.
In contrast, Anelka finished as the club's top scorer despite leaving last January to join Chelsea after a protracted transfer saga that earned Bolton a ?7m profit on their ?8m investment but provided an unwanted distraction from the season-long battle against relegation.
No wonder Davies feels Bolton are better off without him. He said: 'There's no doubt he's a great player but I just thought we became a closer and better team.
'It wasn't a personality thing. People say that Nic can be a bit grumpy but that's his personality. Maybe he's a shy, quiet person, I don't know. But when he left we had a meeting and asked what his qualities were. He brought us goals but there were a lot of things he didn't do which I bring to the team and that's something we talked about.' The elegant but moody Anelka couldn't be more different to Davies, a strapping Yorkshire lad who emerged from humble beginnings at Chesterfield to establish himself as a permanent fixture in the Barclays Premier League despite an ill-fated ?7.5m move to Blackburn.
He has seen them come and go during five years at Bolton. Big names like Brazilian Mario Jardel, Mexican Jared Borgetti, Spain's Javi Moreno and, of course, Anelka.
Now it's the turn of Elmander, the Sweden striker signed for big money from Toulouse this summer.
Davies will do what he always does: roll up his sleeves and fight for his place, always hoping that manager Gary Megson can find him a central role alongside the new boy.
'With having a lot of strikers since I've been here, I'm always confident I can stay in the team,' said Davies. 'I obviously prefer playing up top but I can do a job on the right or the left, as the manager knows.
'He has mentioned there's a possibility me and Johan might be able to link up. He's not a direct replacement for Anelka but we did struggle for goals last year and that's something we want to improve on. …