Crowned by Pompey fans '“ and continuing to thrive
A parody account lovingly carved with respect rather than designed for mocking belittlement.
‘Angry Michael Doyle’ represents a subtle nod of appreciation towards the veteran midfielder’s talents amid Twitter’s wild-west gun-toting backdrop.
The former Pompey favourite is presently involved in a two-horse race at the Ricoh Arena, scrapping it out with 26-goal Marc McNulty for player of the season recognition.
The winner will be crowned tomorrow evening at an awards dinner signifying the end of a campaign which may yet result in an extension through Coventry’s League Two play-off qualification.
Such has been Doyle’s immense popularity during his second Sky Blues spell, in February a Twitter account was established in his honour. It numbers 1,094 followers.
Life after Fratton Park continues to be rewarding for the combative Irishman, along with fellow recent recipients of The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season.
The likes of Enda Stevens, Jed Wallace and Ricky Holmes are flourishing on the Championship stage – characters bestowed the Pompey honour while in League Two.
Should Matt Clarke today receive the coveted trophy during the customary presentation under the glare of the South Stand, you suspect he will swiftly join the trio. Brett Pitman, though, is a fierce rival.
Regardless, ex-Pompey skipper Doyle is vindicating his choice to quit Fratton Park last summer to secure his playing future at Coventry.
‘Doyler is hugely popular with the supporters, the clichéd Captain Fantastic,’ said Andy Turner, sports writer with the Coventry Telegraph.
‘He was handed a one-year deal with an option when he returned last summer – it is a foregone conclusion that will be taken up.
‘The Sky Blues’ skipper is organised, gritty, fit as a butcher’s dog and shows no signs whatsoever of getting any weaker or losing fitness.
‘It is a relatively young side, with Tom Bayliss stepping up from the under-18s and 20-year-old Jordan Shipley establishing themselves in midfield. Doyler has been instrumental in aiding their transition into first-team football.
‘He has missed just a handful of games, after tweaking medial knee ligaments earlier this year. It was a different side in his absence, losing all three games.’
The News’ readers voted Doyle as their 2015-16 player of the season – a campaign culminating in play-off semi-final elimination to Plymouth.
He was succeeded by Enda Stevens, receiving the award on the final day of last term, before completing a free-transfer switch to Sheffield United.
The attacking left-back has since made 46 appearances for a Blades side placed 11th in the Championship.
Sheffield United correspondent for The Star, Sheffield, James Shield, said: ‘Enda’s done very, very well and adapted very quickly.
‘What is credit to him. And to underline how well he has done – he’s kept Daniel Lafferty out of the side. Lafferty was pretty much one of the mainstays last season.
‘In Chris Wilder’s set-up, wing-back is a very demanding position and to play there for an entire season is a triumph in itself.
‘With three at the back, the centre-halves charge forward at times, so Stevens has to show a good degree of football intelligence to also cover from wing-back.
‘He started the season like a train and there was probably a little downturn in form around Christmas, but nothing dramatic, and he has wrestled that back in recent months.
‘Enda’s had a really good, solid season, demonstrated a certain level of consistency, adapted to a new system at a higher level and broken into the Republic of Ireland set-up.’
Ricky Holmes earned the News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season for 2013-14.
He was recruited by Sheffield United in January for an undisclosed fee and, before today’s trip to Bristol City had made five appearances.
Shield added: ‘Ricky has not really had a chance to be fair, but I think we’ll see more of him next season.
‘Chris Wilder managed him at Northampton and had been after him for a year, wanting to bring more goals from that midfield position.
‘It’s very much a case of “Let’s get him, look to pre-season and then go next year”.’
Jed Wallace left Fratton Park in May 2015, clutching The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season trophy.
Signed by then Wolves manager Kenny Jackett, it would be at Millwall where he truly thrived away from Pompey.
The 24-year-old has this season made 46 appearances, scoring seven times, and last Sunday was named runner-up in the Millwall Supporters’ Club’s Player of the Year.
Richard Cawley, sports editor at the South London Press, said: ‘Jed has been terrific since arriving at Millwall, bright, bubbly, infectious and a key performer.
‘He has operated down the right flank, proving to be a bundle of energy, willing to track back and demonstrating the work ethic required.
‘Millwall have achieved success on a budget compared to others at this level. Jed came on a small fee from Wolves and has probably already paid that back in terms of his contribution.
‘Millwall is not always an easy place for players, quite a few haven’t managed to make it there, you have to be mentally tough.
‘If you don’t deliver, the home support won’t take any prisoners. Jed has never had much criticism.
‘His game has improved since promotion to the Championship – some players are suited to a certain kind of club and situation.’
Now we await what the future holds for the 2017-18 recipient of The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season.