Man City’s Tommy Doyle can finally make up for decision that annoyed Pep Guardiola
The last time Tommy Doyle was picked by Pep Guardiola, his manager had his head in his hands and made a point of talking about it after the game.
The Manchester City under-23 captain has outgrown academy football and led the Elite Development Squad to a first-ever Premier League 2 title last season. He has City in his blood and knows exactly what it means to be a captain for his boyhood club.
It’s more than just being a good technical player, it’s about leading in the right way and upholding City’s standards on and off the pitch.
Of all the youngsters coming through, Doyle perhaps ‘gets it’ more than most. It’s rare that someone coming through the ranks has such an acute understanding of a club’s past and present demands.
But despite all that, Doyle also knows how unlikely it is to break through from academy to a Guardiola first team, and he will have added pressure of wanting to perform for the club he loves. Those that manage it have to take their chances when they come.
In the most part, Doyle has done that when called upon. He’s shown his composure and passing ability from midfield in his seven senior appearances, and will surely get more chances to build on that in the future.
His first opportunity could come in this weekend’s friendly against Barnsley, which would represent his first senior outing since the FA Cup win at Swansea in February.
Doyle has been a regular in senior training, but saw opportunities understandably limited when the run-in approached.
In that Swansea game, Doyle came on in the second half and looked his usual classy self. Until he was sent through on the right with Phil Foden in the centre.
City had a two-goal cushion, and Doyle saw the headlines when he slashed at the ball in an attempt to get his first goal for his boyhood club. It went horribly wrong and the ball flew well wide.
It was exactly what any City fan would have done – go for glory. Except Guardiola was exasperated on the bench and held his hands out wide in disbelief that Doyle hadn’t squared for former academy teammate Foden.
“He is a good player, it’s not the first time playing in the games,” Guardiola said after the game.
“He’s a player with a special quality. He takes it, shoots. Another Man City fan. A historic family, the historic Doyle family. The minutes he plays, he plays good, unfortunately in the finishing in the last moment he should have passed the ball to Phil.”
Doyle hasn’t had a look-in since that game for various reasons. Back in training this week after isolating, he could get the chance to remind Guardiola of that special quality in a game setting when Barnsley visit the CFA on Saturday.
And you’d better believe he’ll make a better decision if he gets a sight of goal.