Pompey skipper: I will always front up to criticism

POMPEY's skipper was handed his get out of jail free card, the door held open for escape.

Tuesday, 7th March 2017, 9:30 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:07 am
Pompey skipper Michael Doyle Picture: Joe Pepler

Yet Michael Doyle was resolute. He had duties to carry out – and would be honouring them.

‘I’ve always felt you have to front up, you have to front up and face people,’ he told The News.

‘As hard as that was on Saturday, as hard as it was at Barnet last year, you have to do it and take it on the chin.’

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In the aftermath of Saturday’s wretched 1-0 defeat to Crewe, Pompey’s management stipulated there would be no player interviews.

Certainly a fuming Fratton faithful were in no mood for platitudes and declarations of good intent.

During the players’ traditional lap of appreciation to supporters following the final whistle, they were subjected to boos and stinging words.

Ahead of tonight’s visit to Crawley (7.45pm), Michael Doyle was yesterday thrust forward as the designated member of the squad to address the press.

A late plea from management to pull the midfielder out of the firing line was met with rejection – by Pompey’s skipper himself.

And the tough-talking 35-year-old was as candid as ever.

He said: ‘You have to take all the flak on the chin, everybody is questioning you, doubting you, writing stuff, but you bring it on yourself and go again.

‘It’s hard after a game to have to walk over and face your own fans and you’re getting dogs of abuse, but you put yourself in that situation.

‘I am not complaining about it, but what should you do? Do you walk off the pitch and ignore people who are clapping you?

‘You can’t do that, people have paid their money.

‘People are shouting (abuse) but I can understand that because they are so frustrated, they see the talent, they know we have the ability.

‘We are in the situation now where people have questioned us and rightly so – but we have to stand up and be counted.

‘The highs of Carlisle to the lows of Crewe, in football a week can be so frustrating for the players as well.

‘I can tell you one thing – nobody goes out there to play badly, nobody wants to lose.

‘I will tell you another fact – every player at this club is desperate to get promoted.

‘People question us at the minute, everybody is a bad player, everybody is awful, he’s not good enough. Everybody has the answers and it’s hard as players to hear that.

‘We are in a bit of a situation now where we are on our own and we have kind of created that atmosphere, but we have to galvanize it and get everybody back on side and try to go again.

‘When Crewe scored, the whole ground destructed, people were leaving early – we could hear their seats go up – and the negativity and frustration from the crowd affected a lot of players, it’s as simple as that.

‘I am not blaming anybody for the result fan-wise, that’s what happened.

‘In the end it was an intimidating place to play football when we probably needed people the most.

‘It’s a little bit disappointing, but as players we are the ones who have an effect on all these people. You have got to deal with it and go again.

‘We have to pick all these people up, we have to get them back on side and get this place rocking, it doesn’t feel like it at the moment.

We are going to have to crawl off the floor and show some heart. We need to get people lifted again.’

For the despair created against Crewe, victory tonight will lift the Blues into the automatic promotion spots.

Not since September have they occupied such a lofty position – and it would represent a timely rise with 11 matches of the League Two campaign remaining.

In fairness, Paul Cook’s men have often bounced back from demoralising results during his tenure.

And Doyle is adamant the players are desperate to fulfil the supporters’ desire for promotion.

He added: ‘People see footballers and see lads who have a good job that don’t care, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

‘Everybody wants it, there is a great work ethic at the club and it’s hard because no promotion has ever been easy.

‘If you can manage to get it, you can look back at these moments and say “we got through it, we got promoted and are better for it”.

‘It’s when you don’t go up that you think “that was crucial, we should have won that game, we should have won that game”. That is what you don’t want to get into.

‘I think we had a bit of that last year after losing in the play-offs.

‘It’s on us, it’s in our hands – we have got to go.’