Doyle seeking to emulate Pompey rescue act

Michael Doyle. Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Doyle. Picture: Joe Pepler
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HE’s dragged one fallen Premier League club back onto their feet.

Now Michael Doyle is striving to repeat his resuscitation act with Coventry City at Wembley.

Negativity, protests, people running onto pitches and stopping games, it was all there

Michael Doyle

The Sky Blues face Exeter this afternoon (3pm) in the League Two play-off final.

Leading Mark Robins’ side will be Doyle, the midfielder who skippered Pompey to the League Two title and racked up 96 appearances and three goals.

Coventry were relegated from the Premier League in 2001 after 34 years at the top level, subsequently tumbling into the bottom division at the culmination of last season.

The lack of a Fratton Park contract offer lured Doyle back to his former club in May 2017 with designs of inspiring a resurgence.

And, coupled with 28-goal Marc McNulty, the veteran has inevitably been a pivotal figure in a team which today can commence its climb back.

Doyle told The News: ‘When I came back to Coventry last year the club had just been relegated to League Two and it was an opportunity to be close to my family – but also surely this club couldn’t go any lower?

‘The fans were staying away, there was so much negativity, I thought surely we could go, build the club up again and start again?

‘It was a bit of a challenge trying to get people back to the club. Negativity, protests, people running onto pitches and stopping games, it was all there.

‘For me, I could go in and play a part in building this club up again – and I’m delighted I took the opportunity and we are in this position.

‘The big issue when I spoke to the manager was the characters in the dressing room, I knew that was one of the main reasons he wanted to bring me in.

‘There was a lot of messing around at training, a lot of disrespect, and I think he wanted a different culture. He wanted the right characters.

‘This is why we came back here – to try to get people smiling again. As a club they had never been to the play-offs so it’s a bit of an achievement, a bit of history there.

‘There’s a buzz around the city again.’

The Sky Blues booked their Wembley place with a stunning 4-1 triumph at Notts County in the semi-final second leg.

For Doyle, once again Meadow Lane yielded wonderful memories – as it did with Pompey in April 2017.

He added: ‘Ahead of that game for Coventry, my family were saying to me “Remember what happened there last year”.

‘Bakes (Carl Baker) texted me that morning as well with “Remember”.

‘I have got to be honest, I was nervous going there, the play-offs have never been kind to me at Pompey and Sheffield United and it was a different feeling when going to the ground.

‘Sometimes you fear losing and my body was tense. I had never before had it in the play-offs and hoped it was a good sign – it was.

‘I have been at play-off semi-finals and previously got to the final with Sheffield United, when we lost to Huddersfield (2012) on penalties.

‘Hopefully today can be different.’