MICHAEL DOYLE senses the dawning of a special season as he prepares to lead Pompey out as captain.
The Blues begin a new era today as Paul Cook’s side begin their League Two campaign against Dagenham & Redbridge at Fratton Park.
Expectations are high, with the demands of promotion spelled out in unequivocal terms to the players.
Two failed attempts at getting out of English football’s fourth tier have delivered frustration and disappointment.
But new recruit Doyle feels his new club are on the verge of what could be a memorable nine months.
The 34-year-old is now looking for the spark to catch fire, and delivered a forceful message to supporters about what he feels lies ahead.
We’ve got great support and I just have that feeling that this is going to be special.Michael Doyle
Doyle said: ‘There’s been expectation in previous years, but it hasn’t happened.
‘Whether that’s arrogance or what have you, I don’t know, but it went wrong.
‘I believe in myself, though, and I believe in the management we have here and the players that we can achieve something.
‘That’s not arrogance, that’s belief and determination to make it happen.
‘When I was at Gillingham on Saturday I went over and clapped the fans after the final whistle.
‘It just gave me that little taste of what’s to come.
‘The hairs were standing just applauding the fans then.
‘We’ve had a great following in pre-season.
‘We’ve got great support and I just have that feeling that this is going to be special.
‘The one thing I can say about the fans so far is they just seem to get behind the players.
‘There’s no moaning or groaning at a bad pass. That’s brilliant.
‘There’s too many clubs now where the expectations are through the roof and the fans get on the players’ backs too quickly.
‘We know it’s a serious business now.
‘But the fans so far have been a breath of fresh air.
‘They just love their club and want to see it do well.
‘They’ve had some hard times.
‘The manager has made it very clear what we have to do for these people.’
Pompey go into the Dagenham clash with 13 new faces in their squad after 14 players departed this summer.
There is certain to be more activity, too, with a right-back, experienced defender and striker still on Cook’s shopping list.
Doyle welcomed the prospect of further competition for places.
He said: ‘There is a lot of change going on at the club.
‘The manager wants to do thing his way. That’s what is needed.
‘We need competition and we need to get better all of the time.
‘We want to get better and the manager is looking to make the team and the squad better.
‘It’s great to have that.’