As a schoolboy, Davies was associated with Manchester United and he was offered a contract by then manager Dave Sexton.
Davies started his professional playing career at the Scottish club Rangers, where he spent six years. He made his debut aged 17 years, 115 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 club's financial situation. The club sold nine first-team players in the off-season and Davies resigned on 18 September 2001 after poor form saw Motherwell gain just 3 points from seven matches at the start of the 2001–02 season.
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 on 29 August 2004, Davies was installed as caretaker manager before being given the job permanently on 27 September.
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, after 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. Davies then accepted an offer to manage Preston's Championship rivals Derby County on 2 June 2006.
In Davies's first season as Derby manager he led them to third place in the league and 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 on 26 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, while others cited his apparent tactical inefficiencies at top flight level, poor big money signings (including £3m Claude Davis) and suggested Davies had engineered his own departure, in the form of an outspoken rant against the board so as to avoid having a relegation on his CV.
Davies was later linked with the managerial positions of the Scotland national team after Alex McLeish stepped down to take charge of Birmingham City (Davies would eventually withdraw interest from the post), Leicester City (after Gary Megson left to manage Bolton Wanderers), as well as Dundee and Hibernian. Davies was also considered a candidate to become assistant manager to Everton boss David Moyes, a role which came vacant when Alan Irvine left to take charge of Davies's old club Preston.
On 31 December 2008, it was announced by Nottingham Forest that the club was in negotiations with Davies to succeed the recently dismissed Colin Calderwood. Davies was appointed as their manager on 1 January 2009, officially taking over on 5 January.
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 an 18-match unbeaten run starting at the end of September and including 10 wins, 5 of which came successively, to climb the table rapidly into a play-off position at the end of November.
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. Following failure in the play-offs for the second season running, on 12 June 2011 Davies was dismissed as manager of Nottingham Forest.
On 7 February 2013, Davies returned to Nottingham Forest as manager, signing a three-and-half-year deal, 20 months after being dismissed by the previous Forest board. 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. The first victory of his second spell came three days later, a 6–1 win at home against Huddersfield Town. This was followed by his first away game at Charlton Athletic where Forest won 2-0. Under Davies they 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. Forest were unable to sustain their form and eventually finished eighth after losing 2-3 to Leicester City on 4 May 2013. On 18 October 2013, Davies signed a four-year contract extension at the City Ground. The chairman and club owner, Fawaz Al-Hasawi said "This is a fantastic day for Nottingham Forest. I look forward with great excitement to working alongside him for many years to come as we aim to bring success back to this magnificent club."
Davies' second spell proved to be a controversial and damaging one. He dismissed long-serving club staff without explanation, shouting at a photographer taking photos for the club's matchday programme after a match at Millwall, banning journalists issuing a "near media blackout" and employing his cousin, Jim Price, a suspended solicitor, as his closest advisor.
After an eight-game winless run leaving Nottingham Forest one place and two points outside of the play-off positions and having seen his side lose 5-0 to local rivals Derby County on 22 March 2014, he was dismissed on 24 March. A statement on Forest's website read "Nottingham Forest Football Club have confirmed the termination of manager Billy Davies' employment.
Louise Taylor of The Guardian pointed to Davies' "paranoia", "self-destructive insecurities" and "obsession with conspiracy theories and old grudges" as the reasons behind his downfall, suggesting that he had "shattered" his reputation. The Daily Telegraph's John Percy, who was one of a number of reporters who were "accused of being in league with his former employers" for questioning decisions Davies made, said that Davies was "destined for failure" because he was "obsessed" with conspiracies and hidden agendas. He pointed to the "huge funds" Davies was given to get Forest promoted and suggested that he "could have got away with" the "unsavoury" behaviour, had Forest been winning. John Payne of The Metro said that Davies owed the Forest fans an apology for his behaviour after failing to acknowledge them at the end of the defeat to Derby and "insulted fans' intelligence" by refusing to answer straight questions on the rare occasion he gave press interviews.
Billy Davies is the brother of John Davies and the brother-in-law of John Spencer. Davies signed both his brother and Spencer when he was manager of Motherwell.As of 24 March 2014
Derby CountyFootball League Championship play-off winners: 2006–07
IndividualSPL Manager of the Month winner: November 2000
Football League Championship Manager of the Month winner: January 2006, April 2006, November 2006, January 2007, December 2009, January 2011, March 2013