Sheffield United: Doyle looks to strike the right note

Sheffield United captain Michael Doyle � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Sheffield United captain Michael Doyle � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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Michael Doyle is a very sore loser, writes James Shield. Even close friends inside Bramall Lane’s home dressing room concede their captain makes for terrible company after a disappointing result.

Even close friends inside Bramall Lane’s home dressing room concede their captain makes for terrible company after a disappointing result.

But, acknowledging his mood has been darker than an Irvine Welsh novel throughout Sheffield United’s miserable start to the new League One season, the former Republic of Ireland and Coventry City midfielder last night struck a conciliatory note.

“We owe the manager and the supporters a performance,” Doyle said. “The staff deserve it because of all the hard work they’ve done and the fans for sticking by us through thick and thin.

“They’ve been so loyal and passionate. Sometimes you feel terrible going over and applauding them after we’ve lost but it’s the right thing to do.

“I know how disheartening it must be for all of them. To see us not winning games.

“But, trust me, no one is more disappointed or annoyed about what’s happen than us the players.

“So that’s why it’s time to step-up. To go out there and put things right.

“We want to do it for the manager, the coaches and the people who come to watch us. And there’s no better time than now.”

United entertain fifth-placed Preston North End tomorrow languishing 22nd in the table and without a win since beating Notts County on the opening day of the campaign.

Those parlous returns have prompted some critics to question the wisdom of David Weir’s modus operandi. Doyle, though, has no truck with folk who argue the 43-year-old should order his players to adopt a more simplistic approach.

“Have we bought into what the gaffer wants us to do? Too right we have,” Doyle said. “It’s the way football is going now and we’ll be so much better for it.

“I definitely think we should have more points on the board than we have.

“Every game, other than Brentford probably, we could have won.

“But, fact is, we didn’t and there’s nothing to be gained from making excuses.

“There have been times in games, including last week at Carlisle, when we should have been out of sight at half-time. It’s our fault as players that we weren’t and so we’ve got to start getting more ruthless.

“But what we are doing, the methods that the gaffer is putting in place, are completely necessary and right.”

Weir has sought to address his team’s problems in front of goal - they average less than one per match this term compared to North End’s figure of 1.66 - by signing Marlon King on a short-term contract.

The centre-forward’s presence promises to change not only United’s dynamic on the pitch but off it too, with sources within the game testifying he will inject some much-needed venom into a squad which, at times, can appear a little amiable and nice.

Reflecting upon the inquest which followed the 1-0 defeat at Brunton Park, Doyle admitted: “I’ll always have my say after games, as everyone is entitled to do.

“Sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do. Just be honest with each other.

“But the mood here is still good. And that’s because we are all determined to turn it around.

“There’s no better way of ensuring that stays the case by winning football matches.

“And there’s no better club to be at than this one when you are getting results.

“I’ve got confess, there have been times when I’ve been at a bit of a loss to explain why we’ve not been getting them.

“But there’s only so long we can keep on saying that. Which is why I’m not going to shy away from the fact that we’ve got to start stepping-up and doing the business.”

King, who is expected to start against the visitors from Deepdale, has hit the target 45 times in his previous 108 outings.

The experience King provides could also prove invaluable for a team which, against Carlisle, contained six players aged 22 or under.

Jamie Murphy is unavailable for selection after suffering a reoccurrence of the groin problem which has hampered his progress of late but fellow winger Febian Brandy should return from suspension.

“We’ve got a lot of youngsters here and that means us lads, the older ones, need to lead by example,” Doyle said. “There’s some really good ability among them too. A good balance and some really good combinations.

“In my department, you’ve got lads like Jose and Florent who love to get the ball down and pass it. Technically, they are so strong so it’s important to keep that belief, stay strong and stick together because, if we do that, then I’m sure that we can turn it around.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1