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Changing face of Bradford City means no room for a super hero
Updated 11:46am Saturday 14th June 2014 in Sport
THERE used to be a running theme on Twitter about Nathan Doyle “facts”.
With the man himself rejecting countless invitations to join the social medium, it was left to the fans to come up with their own suggestions of Doyle’s various acts of derring-do.
So the City midfielder was transformed into the role of a super hero by the eccentric imaginations of the cyber world; an immovable, unstoppable force capable of crushing all around him.
While his oppo Gary Jones had his “magic” tribute belted out by all and sundry on a weekly basis, Doyle’s praise was limited to the fantasies of the keyboard. He never got his own song.
On his game, he looked the consummate professional positioned in his ideal role protecting the back four. The quarterback, as those trendy types like to call it, reading the play in front of him and pinging out passes when the gaps appeared.
He was no Steven Gerrard but there was a touch of class and swagger about Doyle when he was in the groove. He looked comfortable and never harassed.
Unfortunately that could be too comfortable on occasions and there were times when he seemed to play within himself, unable to impose that undoubted talent on what was going on around him.
That’s why some members of the Valley Parade jury were out when it came to delivering a final verdict on his last two seasons in the claret and amber.
Doyle was the classic case of “yeah, but ...” epitomised by the most recent campaign. He stormed it for the first couple of months as City rode high and fearless but then dropped off just as the team did.
His partnership with Jones, though, will rightly be remembered for the big occasions like Aston Villa home and away when the pair worked like men possessed to ensure the City engine room never ran out of steam.
And then there was Wembley, part two, and the glorious sunny afternoon when Northampton’s midfield never got a kick. It was occasions like that when Doyle looked far too good for his League Two surroundings.
Those are the facts of his City legacy – and the confidently-struck penalties against Premier League goalkeepers in those shoot-out victories on the road to the Capital One Cup final.
Who’s to say where he will go now. The bottom two divisions would offer regular action but equally you could see Doyle as a squad player in the Championship – the tools are certainly there, if fully motivated.
The announcement earlier this week of the parting of the ways with City came as no surprise.
Phil Parkinson’s carefully-worded farewell suggested a manager who felt he had got as much out of the player as he was likely to.
The identikit for this summer’s transfer business so far has focused on more midfield mobility – something which did catch out City at times last year, especially against the increasing number of League One teams who play three in that area.
So the Jones and Doyle axis is no more – and another cog of the History Makers machine has disappeared.
That leaves only Kyel Reid of the midfield four who clinched promotion in such glorious fashion 13 months ago – and the winger’s own future is still to be decided, hinging on his full recovery from a serious knee injury.
Another key factor in Parkinson’s decision-making is the finances. He has £500,000 less to conjure with compared to last season – more than that if you factor in the additional expenditure from the mid-term plunge into the loan market.
Doyle was believed to be on a fair whack. It would be no surprise if Gary Liddle, his like-for-like replacement, works out cheaper.
Even before this summer’s contract talks, a significant chunk of the wage budget was already accounted for by the few already signed up. You can expect the likes of Aaron Mclean and Andrew Davies on big bucks, with Mark Yeates and James Hanson – who signed a new three-and-a-half year deal in November - not far behind.
So every remaining penny has to be spent wisely to conform within the strict limits imposed by Parkinson’s pay masters.
The board repeatedly make it clear that City’s position as one of only 19 pro football clubs in Britain not losing money is not going to be compromised. Memories of the double administration a decade ago will never be forgotten.
It makes negotiating tight at times for Parkinson – too tight, no doubt, in the manager’s view – but the elements will fall into place.
The targeting of the right type of young player on year-long loans, which he mentioned yesterday, promises to be crucial. We’ve seen the impact of a Pritchard at Swindon or a Grealish at Notts County and Adam Reach certainly had his moments with the Bantams.
The Valley Parade guard is changing. Even supposed super heroes have had their day.
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