Pompey skipper: Credit to Cook for Kal handling
Paul Cook deserves credit for transforming the Pompey output of Kal Naismith.
That is the verdict of Michael Doyle, who is convinced the Blues boss’ man-management of the talented Scot has been decisive.
Naismith was transfer listed in May and instructed to train with the under-18s during the pre-season as he appeared to be slipping away from the club.
Today the attacking midfielder is the leading scorer with 12 goals, including netting in each of his last four appearances.
For some, the former Accrington player’s outstanding late charge is worthy of player-of-the-season recognition.
Doyle has been impressed by the re-emergence of a team-mate who has established himself as a crucial Pompey performer during the promotion run-in.
And he is adamant Cook should also be applauded for his part.
‘Kal has come through and the manager obviously believes in him,’ said the Blues skipper.
‘There was a lot of interest in him, from clubs in the division above as well but the manager did what he felt to get the best out of him.
‘As much as the manager told Kal to go, I think he deserves a lot of credit for managing him and getting the best out of him.
‘Through doing that, what we’re seeing now is a player showing a great attitude and a hunger and desire. We are in a great position and he’s playing a massive part.
‘In the situation Kal found himself, it is about attitude and how you respond.
‘If a player has the right attitude then the quality will come through and you will get your chance again.
‘The first thing the manager’s going to look at is how you respond to being told you are not wanted at the club.
‘It’s about being strong in the mind. Your mind is probably the strongest part of your body.’
Doyle can empathise with Naismith having gone through similar experiences at Coventry City.
After starting the opening three games of Coventry’s 2010-11 campaign under new boss Aidy Boothroyd, he was told he could leave.
But two-and-a-half months later the midfielder had fought back to re-establish himself with the Sky Blues.
He added: ‘It happens, I have been in that situation before at Coventry when Aidy Boothroyd said I could go.
‘I trained hard and managed to get myself back in the team, also ending up becoming his captain.
‘I think that was the manager saying to the rest of the lads “listen, this is what can happen. Doyler was leaving the club and has worked his way back in”.
‘It happens at every single club, I can guarantee you that.
‘Look at Sheffield United at the minute, in the summer 10 to 12 players were told they could go and the likes of Kieron Freeman are now mainstays.
‘Players in that situation can often throw their toys out of the pram, are probably bad around dressing rooms, don’t train well and will try to bring everybody else down with them.
‘But that hasn’t happened here as you can clearly see because Kal is playing and going great.’