Andrew Davies was Matthew Bates’ number one transfer target this summer... and last.
As if his defensive ability, leadership qualities and bags of experience aren’t enough for Bates, the Hartlepool United boss thinks this marquee signing has the power of persuasion when talking to other potential summer recruits.
Davies is by the far the most high-profile of Pools’ four signings ahead of their second campaign at National League level.
While Niko Muir comes from the lower reaches of English football with an impressive goalscoring pedigree, Paddy McLaughlin is a tried and tested, experienced National League campaigner and Myles Anderson a smart, cultured defender, Davies’ career outstrips the lot.
A former England youth international and teammate of Bates at Middlebrough, the 33-year-old has played at the highest level north and south of the border, captained Ross County, a small club even by Scottish standards, to a League Cup triumph as well as proven himself as a canny Football League operator at the likes of Bradford City, also alongside Bates.
The Pools boss sees his new player as somewhat of eye-opener in the fifth tier, and does not think there will be a better defender at this level this season.
Not only that, he is certain attracting someone of Davies’ capability can help the rest of his summer business along, too.
“He was the main man I wanted this summer,” said Bates.
“I tried to get him here at the start of last season but it never happened.
“As soon as I got the job he was the one I wanted to get. And when we found out about his contract situation we pursued it.
“After lots of conversations we have finally managed to get the deal over the line.”
When asked whether he thinks the Davies addition can help turn heads this summer, and get other players to commit to Pools, Bates continued: “100% yes.
“I remember speaking to Paddy and he said ‘you’ve only got a couple in’ but I told him about Andrew and he was like ‘that’s a great signing’.
“I’m not saying that is why he signed but it helps attract other players when you are bringing good players in.
“It also helps the lads here, some will have a spring in their steps and some will be panicking thinking ‘is he going to get my place?’ But we want that kind of competition for places and Andrew brings that.”
What is in no doubt is that in their time of need, Pools have lacked leadership on the park, and off it until the promotion of Bates and arrival of Raj Singh and Craig Hignett.
It is for that reason Bates was keen to add an experienced head to the camp, a hungry one, with a winning mentality.
Davies ticks all of the boxes emphatically.
In fact, Bates thinks the defender will become a firm fan favourite in his time at Victoria Park, as well as prove to be the best signing the club have made in years.
“He will give 100% and I have no doubt he will be a fans favourite in his time here,” said Bates.
“We lacked leaders for three years. Andrew will drag the rest of the team along, he will manage the dressing room for me and add a bit of banter.
“I will be surprised if there has been a better signing over the last four or five years.
“He is fit but we will have to manage him. He has had injuries. I had to manage myself as a player and we will let him dictate that, too.”