herald

Sunday 24 September 2017

Time for Doyle to leave Wolves behind

Despondent striker in need of a fresh start to recapture lost form

KEVIN DOYLE needs a new start. He looks tired, frustrated and, above all, institutionalised by Mick McCarthy and Wolves' desperate need to hang in there.

Ideally, he should find a new club in the next two weeks because Wolves' increasingly desperate survival battle is no environment for a burnt out striker trying to find his form.

Last night against Birmingham, Doyle did as much running as he always does and often found himself deep in his own half playing the role a creative midfielder would perform if Wolves had one.

He turned up on the left wing and fielded a steady supply of aerial bombs down the centre, but the one thing he never got to do was to follow his natural predatory instincts. The only time he made it into the Birmingham box was for set-pieces.

He cut a forlorn and disappointed figure when he trudged to the sideline, much like his manager, and it is difficult to see reason for either of them to be cheerful given the road ahead.

Wade Elliott's one decisive moment in 180 minutes of grim struggle sent Birmingham on their way in the FA Cup and plunged Molineux deeper into gloom.

It's always that way with Mick. His career as a manager has been marked by brief moments of promotional relief followed by a slow and angst-ridden survival battle.

Desperation, stoicism and honesty mark his face with lines of regret and you wonder how he has the mental strength to keep going as he does.

McCarthy will never manage at Old Trafford or take a bow at the Bernabeu yet he ploughs on, head in his hands and teeth gritted against the injustice of it all.

His battle against the odds has become a cliche and he fills a media need to have a good guy always on the point of failure who delivers box office images for cameras that are always on.

'Hang in there' is a phrase which Mick could wear tattooed on his forehead but there's some collateral damage to worry about as a result of his constant battle to stay afloat.

Doyle, too, has a catchphrase; "There's one for Doyler to chase." That's all he has been doing now for three years at Molineux. Chasing.

He has chased, harried, tackled and behaved in a thoroughly professional manner throughout his career.

He is never less than willing to fight for the unit above his own glory and his game has suffered as a result. He hasn't been right for a few seasons.

There's an obvious paradox at work. Strikers must have a very big selfish bone in their bodies and an ego to match.

Not the Wexfordman. He arrived on the Ireland scene as a breath of fresh air and with no baggage in the years after Saipan. With Shane Long and Stephen Hunt, he brought new energy to the group.

He was, and is, remarkably accommodating in all sorts of areas where he can make his celebrity status count and as an interview subject, he rarely disappoints.

But right now, he looks burnt out and that shouldn't be. He should be carving up defences and at the height of his powers.

McCarthy admitted before last night's defeat that Doyle is simply paying the price for the number of miles he's had to run.

It was an honest assessment, as ever, from McCarthy and an accurate one. He has asked Doyle to fill in the gaps left by the absence of any true quality in the Wolves squad.

McCarthy said that Doyle was "cool" with the fact that he was dropped last weekend and just got on with his training.

Maybe that's the problem. Doyle should be furious, not cool. There's a moment when it's not okay to take one for the team.

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