BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
GRAHAM STACK experienced the eccentricity of Edgar Davids when his old Barnet boss took the No.1 shirt ahead of him at The Hive.
However, the former Hibs goalkeeper has urged Hearts supporters not to be fooled by the Dutch icon’s larger-than-life personality or sketchy disciplinary record – and embrace him as a potential successor to Ian Cathro.
Stack, 35, was between the sticks for the Bees when Davids – boasting 74 caps and a Champions League winner’s medal – took his first steps into management in 2012 in the humble surroundings of League Two.
Bizarrely sporting ‘No.1’ in the heart of midfield, the player/boss’ 18-month tenure proved predictably eventful as he received five red cards and suffered relegation to the Conference, albeit he did oversee an upturn in Barnet’s fortunes, as Stack is keen to underline.
He recalled: “I remember a few of the headlines when Edgar took the number one jersey, but it wasn’t as if he dictated that. We sat down and had a chat about it. I had no qualms about it, not just because he was the manager, but because of the respect I had for him. He’s Edgar Davids – he can wear what he wants!
“I guess it does highlight that Edgar is a big character and sometimes invites spotlight on himself. He certainly got plenty of attention at Barnet.
“It is well documented that he had one or two disciplinary problems on the pitch, as player/manager, but I think that was purely down to his eagerness and appetite to win games and do his best for the club.
“People shouldn’t rush to make judgements based on reputations or headlines. He worked every bit as hard as any player in the gym, and spent as much time coaching as ANY boss I’ve ever worked with. It says a lot about the man that, after playing in Champions League finals and World Cups, he would have that passion and desire at Barnet.
“He passed on some great advice and skills, and showed us plenty of things I would use if I move into coaching or management.
“When Edgar came to the club, we hadn’t won in 13 games. In the end we went down on goal difference, but our form from when Edgar came in would have been good enough to be challenging for the playoffs. He is a proper coach.”
Davids is one of a host of high-profile names under consideration for the head coach vacancy at Hearts, including former England boss Steven McClaren, Aidy Boothroyd and Dougie Freedman.
And Stack, who knows the cauldron of Edinburgh well, reckons the fiery Dutchman would be more capable of dealing with the pressures of the job following a sharp learning curve with the London minnows.
The Eastleigh ace continued: “Only Edgar can tell you for sure, but I would think there were a few lessons there. Doing any job for the first time is eye-opening – especially in this industry and especially with the spotlight that was on Edgar 24/7.
“So, I’m sure he would have learned a few things that would stand him in good stead at Hearts.
“He is a real football man, is hugely knowledgable and would play a brand of football that the Hearts fans would enjoy.
“And I think he would love it in Edinburgh. Living in a city that lives and breathes football, packed with banter between the fans, was something I relished. Derby day was always unforgettable and that fixture has his name written all over it!”
Davids, Stack contends, would also get the best out of a squad packed with international talent, but woefully underperformed under Cathro – who departed Gorgie with a record of eight wins in 30 games.
He recalled: “Edgar won’t except anyone not giving their all, regardless of who they are. He used to set incredible standards as a player, and he sets standards as a manager. You need to meet them or you will be out.”