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Davies started his professional playing career at the Scottish club Rangers F.C., where he spent six years. He made his debut aged 700117000000000000017 years, 7002115000000000000115 days against Brechin City on 23 September 1981. He had a brief spell with Swedish team IF Elfsborg. Davies went on to play for St Mirren, Leicester City and Dunfermline Athletic before he finished his playing career with Motherwell in his native Scotland.
Davies went on to player-coach and then manage Motherwell, helping them first avoid relegation with few games remaining in his first season in charge, In the next season he took them to the brink of European Football. The subsequent season was less successful, due mainly to the clubs financial situation, the club sold nine first-team players in the off-season, and Davies was sacked after poor form saw Motherwell gain just 3 points from seven matches at the start of the 2001–02 season.1
Preston North End
Following his dismissal as Motherwell boss, Davies moved south to England and took on the role of assistant manager to former Scotland national coach Craig Brown at Preston North End. Following Brown's departure in 2004 Davies was installed as caretaker manager 2 before being given the job on a permanent basis.
Davies took Preston to the brink of the Premier League via the play-offs in May 2005 but lost in the final. Despite a difficult start to the 2005–06 season, a 25-game unbeaten run meant Preston went on to qualify for the play-offs for a second successive season although the side again failed to win promotion as they were knocked out by Leeds United after losing the semi-final second leg, where he famously left Elland Road (the 1st leg) issuing the quote "Job Done" to the media, just to be beaten at home and knocked out of the play-offs.
Davies's success at Deepdale saw him linked with a number of other jobs. He was interviewed for the position at Charlton Athletic when it was announced that Alan Curbishley would be stepping down after 15 years as manager, but Davies was unsuccessful and the job went to Iain Dowie instead.3 Davies then accepted an offer to manage Preston's Championship rivals Derby County in June 2006.4
In Davies's first season as Derby manager he led them to third place in the league and then won the play-offs after defeating Southampton in the semi-finals and then West Bromwich Albion at Wembley Stadium, ending Derby's five-year absence from the top flight. Davies signed a one year extension to his contract. Derby struggled in the Premier League, gaining only six points from fourteen games. After criticising Derby's board for lack of investment, Davies left Pride Park by mutual consent in November 2007 with the club bottom of the league. Some critics believed that Davies was a victim of his own success after overachieving in his first season at Pride Park,5 while others cited his apparent tactical inefficiencies at top flight levelcitation needed, poor big money signings (including £3m Claude Davis6) and suggested Davies had engineered his own departure, in the form of an outspoken rant against the board7 so as to avoid having a relegation on his CV.
On 31 December 2008, it was announced on the official Nottingham Forest website that the club was in negotiations with Davies to succeed the recently sacked Colin Calderwood.12 Davies was confirmed as their manager on 1 January 2009.13
In the summer of 2009 Davies made several additions to his squad and spent around £4m. Despite having six first-team strikers, the season did not get off to the best start, with Forest playing well but failing to get the results many thought their performances deserved. However Forest embarked upon a 18-match unbeaten run starting at the end of September and including 10 wins, 5 of which came successively, to rapidly climb the table into a playoff position at the end of November.14
Davies was nominated for the manager of the month award for October after guiding Forest to three successive wins and a draw, but he missed out to Dave Jones of Cardiff City.15 Following failure in the play-offs for the second season running, on 12 June 2011 Davies was sacked as manager of Nottingham Forest.1617
Return to Nottingham Forest
Nicknamed 'King Billy',18 on 7 February 2013 Davies returned to Nottingham Forest as manager, signing a three-and-half-year deal, 20 months after being sacked by the previous Forest board.19 Davies took charge of his first match since returning as manager on 16 February 2013, a 1–1 draw against Bolton at the City Ground.20 The first victory of his second spell came three days later, a 6–1 win at home against Huddersfield Town.21 This was followed by his first away game at Charlton Athletic where Forest won 2-0.22 Under Davies won six games in a row, including a 2-1 away win against second placed Hull City, placing them fifth in The Championship table and in a play-off position.23 Forest were unable to sustain their form and eventually finished eighth after losing 2-3 to Leicester City on 4 May 2013.24 On 18 October 2013, Davies signed a four year contract extension at the City Ground.25