Kelvin Davis says Saints need to get used to Premier League pace
8:00am Monday 20th August 2012
Nigel Adkins ’ side nearly stunned the defending champions in a thrilling contest at the Etihad Stadium, turning the game on its head in the second half to earn a 2-1 lead, only for the hosts to roar back and win 3-2.
Davis, who saved a 17th minute David Silva penalty, was proud of the display Saints turned in and admitted the contest had taught the players some valuable lessons about the challenge that faces them this season.
“It opens your eyes,” he said. “Physically, you know what’s needed.
“From my point of view I know how well they strike a ball and how quick they’re on to you.
“You think you’ve got time, but you haven’t got as much as you think.
“Everything has got to quicken up, and we’ve been working very hard on that pre-season.
“The coaches have been speaking a lot about getting your head up early, getting your touch early, and trying to have two touches and one touch, because you know you’re not going to have time on the ball.
“They’re very intelligent players as well. You do something once, then twice, but the third time you’re not going to get away with it.
“It’s important to realise you use the time you have and you use it quickly, otherwise you can get caught out.”
Although Saints nearly snatched a famous result, there is no denying they were swamped at times by the overwhelming attacking and creative potency of City.
“The only thing I can compare it to I would probably say is Man United away when I was last in the Premier League, with Ronaldo and Rooney and Van Nistelrooy,” said Davis.
“They always seemed to just have enough, even when we went 2-1 up they seemed to find that extra yard.”
But the 35-year-old said there was no panic when he heard the City team, despite the likes of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Samir Nasri all being included in the starting XI.
“I heard it when I was warming up,” he said. “But, with the manager as he is, we’d done our homework. We knew what the team was going to be. We spoke about their different options, which are endless.
“We were very well prepared and I think our gameplan was pretty good and we nearly pulled it off.”
Davis added: “We were a little bit in dreamland when we were 2-1 up, but the first thing that I did was look up at the clock and think to myself ‘Can we do it?’ “But it wasn’t to be, and I think what was disappointing was the last two goals they scored probably weren’t their greatest chances.”
Davis can at least take away the memory of a penalty save from Spanish maestro Silva, even if the result took the gloss off the moment.
“Speaking honestly, it didn’t really mean anything after the game with the result,” he said. “It was a bit surreal really. Everything was a bit slow.
“From his body shape I felt he was going to my left, and in the end it wasn’t a fantastic penalty.
“So to go the right way and keep it out, it was a fantastic feeling obviously. But I knew there was a long time left in the game.”