Forget the latest Playstation, iPad or that lovely jacket from the second floor of Beatties…
…If there is one Christmas gift I would trade it all in for, including the turkey and trimmings, it would be for Kevin Doyle to start scoring goals – or be sold in the transfer window.
As we prepare for the most critical stretch of the season to date, Kenny Jackett not only seems hellbent on playing the impotent number 29, but subordinating our one and only goalscorer as if to justify his decision.
Like Stephen Fletcher and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake before him, Leigh Griffiths now finds himself neutralised and benched to accommodate a player that, in cricketing terms, is currently 0-83 off 18 overs (at about 75mph).
In footballing terms he is 3 goals and one measly assist for the entire season, each strike working out at around £250,000*
Bad enough that Cody McDonald, Tom Pope and all manner of League One plodders have all scored double that, but even worse that our one bone-a-fide finisher is now insulted with a ‘lazy’ accusation to compensate.
A few fans have told me in no uncertain terms to stop ‘hating’ on a player who is actually immune to goalscoring and monetary accountability, but appreciated at all costs.
They make a good point. If Doyle was on £400 a week or £40,000, it would matter little. He simply should not be playing when he contributes so minimally, featuring a painful lack of pace.
The old adage that appearances can be deceptive could have been created for Kevin Doyle, who doesn’t suffer Keogh’s haphazard eagerness, nor Ebanks-Blake’s perceived inactivity.
He carries out the instructions from any manager he’s ever worked with to the letter, be it McCarthy, Solbakken, Saunders or Jackett.
All four rated him highly for this very reason, with Mick McCarthy even downplaying past contributions from Bull, Richards and Dougan with a quite extraordinary show of affection in January 2010 after a man-of-the-match Premier League performance, minus a winning goal.
“If anyone has seen a better centre-forward display at Molineux than against Liverpool, then I would like to see it.”
When asked to operate in a one-dimensional role, ala the lone man in a 0-0 draw with Liverpool, he was great.
Asking Kevin Doyle to be intuitive is where the problems start, playing as if robotically pre-programmed, to the detriment of fluidity, potency and now, his latest downtrodden strike partner.
Andy Mutch was the best forward I saw at operating in a ‘second striker’ role, with two glorious assists in our 1989/90 double season against West Bromwich Albion springing to mind.
In the same season (if memory serves) away at Aston Villa, he arrived at the back post like a number 9 to break the net in the League Cup, from a sumptuous Mark Venus cross.
Andy Mutch’s career wasn’t based on conjecture, hyperbole and a dim and distant link to Arsenal, but goals, assists and an intuitive grasp for the nuances of the Beautiful Game.
With Kevin Doyle showing none of the above, it is surely time to say goodbye – for whatever Swindon Town paid for Andy Mutch in all likeliness.
*cost of goals based on an assumption Doyle is still on £40,000 per week.