A defining image for thePompey annals as icon of Cook's side leaves indeparture which suits all
As far as defining images go it's not a bad way to depart.
Michael Doyle, arms outstretched, holding the spoils of League Two victory aloft as he’s flanked by his fellow heroes on stage.
Beneath him, the assembled sea of royal blue saluted Paul Cook’s general as the silverware glistened in the spring sunshine on Southsea Common.
Who could possibly have predicted that 96 hours’ later the Pompey captain would have his departure from Fratton Park confirmed. Yet, that’s exactly what has happened.
There’s been no more central figure to the Cook era than the man from Dublin.
Doyle has been a driving force in the middle of the park on the pitch, from the very moment he arrived after leaving Sheffield United in the summer of 2015.
And off it, he’s been a standard bearer for the Blues squad – one you wouldn’t want to cross if professionalism dropped beneath his exacting levels.
But that’s how you get to start every single league game in a title-winning team at the age of the 35.
Any sane person would ensure the ‘v’ word wasn’t mentioned in the presence of the midfielder. The veteran tag inevitably pre-modifies Doyle’s name in print these days, however.
There’s been little suggestion of a waning of his influence, and when the former Leeds man argued age was just a number he was someone who could make the statement with authority.
With Pompey player-of-the-season plaudits in the can last term, those efforts were followed with more no-nonsense and combative displays this time around.
And at the end of it, Doyle could celebrate his first silverware after 700-plus career appearances.
You don’t get to do that without having a burning intensity. Sometimes that heat within could catch fire, as Christian Burgess can testify after making the combustible Irishman explode at half-time against Stevenage in November.
But take that ferocity away from Doyle and you’re left with a very different beast to what the born winner is.
His influence and character will be missed, no doubt - but the move to Coventry looks to be one to suit all parties.
Doyle can return to his family in the midlands and put the long commutes to PO4 to bed, instead of waiting for contract details to materialise.
And Paul Cook can be satisfied he’s done the right thing by his lieutenant after verbally offering him a stay.
All royal blue bloods will wish him well – and savour an enduring image of Doyle for the Pompey annals.
– JORDAN CROSS