AS someone who counts Gary McAllister, Tim Sherwood and Steve Staunton among his former teammates, Michael Doyle is not easily impressed, writes James Shield.
So when the Sheffield United captain describes fellow midfielder Kevin McDonald as
“one of the best I’ve worked with” it is worth taking note.
“I was asked a while ago by a newspaper to pick my best starting 11 based on people I’ve played with and against,” Doyle said. “I’d not known Macca that long at the time and I’ve got to admit he wasn’t in there.
“If I had to do the same thing now he would be., without a shadow of a doubt.
“He must be a manager’s dream. He’s big and strong and yet there’s a calmness about him and he can
the ball with both feet.
“People always ask me if I’ve helped him but, actually, Macca’s been a massive help to me.
“Let’s be honest, he’s too good for this division.”
United travel to MK Dons today second in the League One table and knowing that a win, depending on the outcome of Sheffield Wednesday’s meeting with Carlisle, could see them return to the Championship at the first attempt following relegation last term.
Doyle, whose partnership with McDonald has been a driving force behind United’s run of six straight victories, admitted Bramall Lane “wasn’t a great place to be” as the South Yorkshire club spiralled out of the second tier.
But, speaking ahead of this afternoon’s visit to stadium:mk, he insisted Danny Wilson’s appointment as manager has helped transform United’s mood both on and off the pitch.
“This is as good a footballing side as I’ve played in throughout my career,” Doyle, previously of Coventry City and Leeds, said. “Last season, there was a lot of disappointment around the place and if we went a goal behind then you may as well have blown the whistle there and then.
“But we’ve been behind in a few games lately and, although we don’t like it, we’ve always come back.
“We felt like we’d let the fans down in the past and we don’t want to let them down again.
“I can remember the day we were relegated (against Barnsley) and it was horrible but the support we got was tremendous.”
Doyle will kick off against Karl Robinson’s fourth-placed side searching for his third goal in as many matches.
“I started out as a box to box midfielder then things changed. But the gaffer here has encouraged me to get forward,” he said.
Acknowledging “nothing can be taken for granted,” Doyle admitted: “We know how big this game is and what the incentives are. I’m not going to lie.
“If I could help United get promoted then it would be the best achievement of my career because we’ve seen big clubs take a while to get out of this division.
“If we start looking elsewhere, though, then we’ll be setting ourselves up for a fall.”
DID YOU KNOW: Sheffield United have won their last six matches in League One. MK Dons’ record over the same period reads: W2 D1 L2. They are first and 10th in the form table respectively.