By Tony Leighton
As he comes to the end of a playing career with the likes of Ajax, Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur on his CV, Dutch international midfielder Edgar Davids is taking his first steps in management in the rather less prestigious surroundings of Barnet.
But if his first three months in charge of the npower League 2 club are anything to go by, Head Coach Davids could become just as successful in his new career as he has been in the one drawing to a close, says fellow midfielder John Oster.
Former Everton, Sunderland and Reading player Oster joined the Bees from Doncaster Rovers last summer and was part of the side that, when Davids arrived at Underhill in October, were rock bottom of the League 2 table with just three points from 11 games and without a win to their name.
Perilously lying five points below the safety places, relegation was looking a distinct possibility. Eighteen games and 26 points later, however, they are three places - though only one point - above the drop zone.
Oster told football-league.co.uk: "Our performances have picked up considerably over the last couple of months and we've picked up some really good results. It's just unfortunate that other teams have been picking up good results as well.
"Hard work on the training ground is paying off. Edgar has brought in his own ideas and he won't settle for anything less than 100 per cent - and that's every day, not just matchdays. It's about discipline and keeping standards high.
"It's certainly keeping people on their toes and at the minute everyone is champing at the bit to be playing in the team. If your performances are not up to scratch though, you can soon be sitting on the bench."
Despite being 39 - he will be 40 in March - Davids is still playing and encouraging a neat, passing game that suits the skillful Oster and is helping to edge the Bees towards Football League safety.
"We're solid all-round at the minute," said the experienced Oster, 31, "and we feel we can match anyone in the league. You're always looking over your shoulder until you're mathematically out of the mire, but if we carry on performing as we have been then I'd like to think we'll be okay."
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