Herdman: ‘We started the process’ of Davies playing left-back for Canada

About seven months ago, Alphonso Davies earned his first start of the Bundesliga season for Bayern Munich at left-back against Union Berlin.

That was on Oct. 26, 2019.

Fast forward to May 25, 2020, and Davies has started every match under coach Hansi Flick – the only Bayern player to do so.

That’s sparked conversations about where Davies should play for the Canadian national team: At full-back or further up the pitch as a winger or striker.

“We started that process [of Davies playing left-back],” Canada coach John Herdman said on A Kick In The Grass. “We played against low blocks and teams that you’re looking to set goal records against, and for me it was always about getting your best attacking players on the pitch.

“Against certain types of teams where you know they’re going to sit off, that full-back position, he is like a hybrid. It’s a winger-type role. You get a midfielder sitting underneath for him so he didn’t have to worry too much about the transition.”

Davies has played in a variety of roles for the national team, from left-back to striker. The 19-year-old scored the eventual winning goal in Canada’s historic 2-0 victory over the United States in October — playing as a striker next to Jonathan David.

“He’s played, I don’t know, probably 60 per cent of his international games at full-back for us,” Herdman stated. “I think just for Canada, there are going to be games where you’re going to want Phonzie playing as an out-and-out forward, as an out-and-out winger and there’ll be games where he can be more of that hybrid wingback and provide us with that support from deep positions.

“The hardest decision for me always to make is how do you get your best forwards on the field, who all of them are in form at the same time, then add your best midfielders. It’s like trying to fit eight players in five positions. Phonzie has given us that flexibility.”

The former Vancouver Whitecap has started 25 matches for Bayern in all competitions this season. He’s been deployed as a full-back in each of those games.

Davies has been integral to Bayern’s attack, contributing two goals and seven assists in those 25 starts at left-back. To top it off, he has completed more take-ons (83) than any other full-back in the top five European leagues and European competition this season, per Squawka.

“People have doubted that he’s not a left-back, [that] he can’t play left-back for Canada,” Herdman said. “I think people are starting to realize that position is a lot more influential in the modern game than people would give it credit for.”

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