It’s been a tumultuous summer of transition across the league. First, Sean Downs left Downsy’s 11 by mutual consent to take over an unnamed club; now FC Des managerial stalwart Michael Davies has announced his shock retirement from the game. After five titles in five seasons of unprecedented success, Davies steps down from the FC Des hotseat as the league’s most successful manager—one title ahead of Cacos boss, Reef Younis. And from the DoDi doldrums to the DoBo crown, Davies and FC Des have been through it all—that infamous promotion from Liam Stokes-Massey on the final day in 2014/15 kickstarting the glory period.
Much like his team’s style of play, and even with five trophies to their name, FC Des’ success has been steady more so than spectacular. A less gregarious media presence than that of his DSoE mentor Sean Downs, Davies still enjoyed flickers of conflict, engaging in wars of words with Reef Younis in the most successful club stakes, as well as memorable battles with Farts of Midlothian’s Martin Arthur in both DoWo and DoBo and the long-running SaKo feud with William Penhallurick’s Jager Bombers. What people couldn’t argue with, however, was Davies almost peerless ability to maintain a ruthless consistency throughout the season—and a willfully disciplined commitment to grinding down opponents without the need to take risks.
Famous for the advent of the GK captain and a love of 5 at the back, Davies’ traditional approach left many questioning whether he would be able to adapt the modern game on his return. Those doubts were quickly dispelled as Davies set about sending FC Des to the top division in consecutive seasons, reaching the pinnacle with the coveted DoBo title in his second season amongst the game’s elite. But that sensational rise showed signs of stagnation and regression this season with the club’s first non-top two finish under Davies’ tenure. Davies doesn’t say so in as many words but with the pressure of trying to match Cacos’ back-to-back seemingly too much last season, that 3rd place finish in the weakest DoBo on record potentially marks the beginning of a terminal decline. Whatever the reason, Davies’ announcement is the logical move; a celebrated step back when the FC Des and Michael Davies legacy remains as largely untainted and celebrated as it is now.
In that sense, Davies might not leave as the most loved or the most talked about manager, but he arguably leaves as the most respected. His retirement came out of nowhere to shock us all; it’s a fitting end considering that five years ago, his team did the exact same.
Michael, the end of an era at FC Des. What drove your decision to leave at the end of the season?
“It was the hardest decision of my life, but I believe I’ve achieved all there is to achieve at FC Des. We went from DoDi newbies to double YoBo winners, there isn’t a league we haven’t won or been promoted from. It’s been a decision I’ve wrestled with all summer but after laying the ghost of Will to rest with the revenge SaKo win, it just feels like the right time to go.”
Does this mean the end of Michael Davies in management?
“For now, yes. I thought I had adapted to the modern game, I’d stopped having a GK as captain, stopped playing 5 at the back, I’d even even stopped selecting William Gallas. What I can’t accept is a vegan finishing 2nd bottom and then being crowned champion just to please the millennials out there. You have to draw a line somewhere.”
So your decision was driven by achievement but also disgust at the way the game’s being run?
“I suppose it was. I still have the drive to win more but the people that run the game seem determined to make that impossible for the super clubs like FC Des and Downsy’s 11. They are that determined to expand the brand to cater for the goths, the vegans, the Jolleys of this world that they are alienating their core audience.”
Do you think your decision would have been different if PTB hadn’t been enforced last season?
“PTB was a dark time for the game. If nothing else it made me agree with Paul Gregory and that is something I’m not comfortable with.”
Critics would say that you had the chance to become just the 2nd manager to win back-to-back titles and didn’t quite have enough. Have you taken FC Des as far as they could go?
“Everyone at this club knows we did just that last season. The 2019 DoBo is in the cabinet, it may be made of cardboard but it’s there. I’ve taken them to the very top, twice, there is literally nowhere else for me to take FC Des.”
You leave with 5 titles in 5 seasons as the most successful manager in the game. Is that how you think you’ll be remembered?
“Not a bad return is it? Now that Reef is doing a Chester and clawing his way back up the leagues, his made up trophies have run out. DoDi is a tough league so I may be top for some time. I’ll certainly enjoy watching him try and overtake me from my sun lounger.”
Some say you made winning look effortless…
“It may have looked effortless but I fretted over team selection whilst eating my Frosties every Saturday morning, even when the GW started on the Friday!”
After so many years of success, many fans are worried about what the future holds. Do you have a message for them?
“Remember the good times, the DoDi comeback, the Sako and YoBo semi finals vs Super Ted and Cacos…always believe in the DSoE. Thank you.”