Farewell Kevin Doyle
Christian Benitez signs for Birmingham City in a rumoured nine million pound deal and yet Kevin Doyle is, as speculated previously by Lloyd on these pages, snapped up by Wolves for 6.5 million? A proven striker with 55 goals for Reading, 20 of which have been at Premier League level, Doyle is one of those players to whom the over-used label “class” applies. When asked to define just how good he is, I always resort to lame sounding comments such as “you can tell by the way he runs” or “he moves like a footballer”. Doyle glides across the pitch and his unhurried manner around the eighteen yard box is notable. And yet the stats also bear out a major contribution from a player with a claim to be Reading’s greatest ever player. Throughout that record breaking championship season and the glorious eight placed Premier League finish that followed, Doyle fired at full pelt. Some memorable goals including a turn and sharp shot against Southampton, two nodded efforts in a turnaround 3-1 win at the Reebok, that skimmed header against Liverpool that set up perhaps the greatest result in the club’s history (an oasis in a grim second year upstairs) and the penalty that saw Royals attain a merited draw when pitched opposite a Manchester United side. All great memories and let’s not forget that Doyle was one of the six nominations for PFA player of the year in 2007, alongside Ronaldo and the like.
Seasons 2007-8 and 2008-9 weren’t so good for Kevin, but he still netted over twenty times and was often forced out wide to the right wing as the erstwhile Biscuitmen searched for goals. The relative lowness of the transfer fee perhaps reflects these post Christmas drop offs but is probably more to do with the disappointing fortunes of others who have moved on from that record breaking, never to be forgotten Reading side. Nicky Shorey and Steve Sidwell have struggled at Villa Park, the latter after a money-grabbing mistake of a move to the Bridge, and Ibrahima Sonko and Dave Kitson have provided a few of the rare low points in Stoke’s first season amongst the aristocracy. The great Reading side were always a team above all else, binded together by the genius of Steve Coppell. Its stars’ ability to shine away from the Mad Stad is always going to be in doubt.
That said, the club have netted a record fee, eclipsing that received for flame haired Dave. The workhorse Noel Hunt, Shane Long and youngster Simon Church are now left as a trio in the wake of the departure of Doyle and Leroy Lita. The Berkshire club will need to augment that rather thin choice of strikers before August.