Where do you start with a review of Doyle's Notts career thus far? A man who was well known to us for being a thorn in our side in recent years as a player at Portsmouth and Coventry, both of which we he forged successful promotions, an outstanding achievement by any professional's standards.
We know from first hand experience that he is a player the opposition fans love to hate, which in truth is a huge compliment to the man. His tough approach to the game and ability to wind the opposition players and fans up alike, whilst always in the referee's ear telling him what decisions he should be making and still having a playing influence in the game, is quite remarkable.
It would be fair to say his transfer to Notts has not been smooth by any means and at times he has clearly divided the Notts faithful. One of the first games I think he played for us was our home game against the Stags. We of course were in an extremely poor run of form, so I doubt many of us were looking forward to the game, especially seeing as we were desperate for the points and them being our bogey side, yet step up Doyle, who I am sure many will agree was superb in the match along with JOB. I for one was buzzing and thought that his signing will surely help us escape the drop, but alas it was not to be.
Life in the National League did not get off to the greatest of starts as we know for obvious reasons and I am sure it was very frustrating for the players as it was us fans. I suppose we will never know the stress that the players were under but it did seem to show on Doyle and this resulted in him receiving a red card for a rash challenge, fair play to the man he did apologise and reassured us that he would pay the faithful back, he soon returned straight after his ban and a few games later he was sent off again, this further dividing the fans as to his worth as a Notts regular.
In the following weeks and his return to the side, I see that he was asked to play a different role in the team, a role that saw him as a defensive midfielder whose job it was to bring the ball out from the back and keep possession. I can honestly say I was not a fan of this style of play and whereas we had plenty of possession we struggled to create many chances as the ball was predominantly in out last third, I also felt that this left out other midfielder Rose exposed as his partner was too deep.
In more recent games Doyle seems to have moved further up the pitch, this also coincides with the addition of Lacey, who can play and is quick, so no surprise really. Now I see Doyle as back to his best, a man who in whatever circumstances is always available to receive the ball and never hides, he keeps the ball moving and now in the right areas and we have looked far better. A recent game I noted that Doyle was the furthest man forward in the hope of receiving a ball over the top, this brought great joy to me as we no longer seem predictable like we did before.
Whether you have had mixed opinions about Doyle for whatever reason, I am sure we should tip our hats to the man, a 38 year old who is full of running and such an influence on our side, he really is the beating heart of our side so I suggest we get behind the man, although we know he is sky blue through and through, no one can fault his commitment to Notts.