Tommy Doyle: Born into Manchester City royalty, ready to seize Wolves chance


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Football is in Tommy Doyle’s blood. So are Manchester City.

But the time has come for the grandson of two late Maine Road greats to try to make his mark on the game. And that means stepping away from the club where he has spent 13 years of his life and learned to play. Doyle has joined Wolverhampton Wanderers on an initial loan deal until the end of this season, with a £5million option to buy. City will receive 50 per cent of any profit Wolves make if they sell the 21-year-old.

The bar at the reigning Premier League and European champions has proven a little too high for a midfielder compared throughout his academy career to Phil Foden. Now, Wolves hope to give Doyle the platform to prove he is a Premier League player.

Born in Manchester in 2001, Doyle always seemed destined to end up at City.

His paternal grandfather, Mike Doyle, played more than 500 times for them under managers such as Malcolm Allison and Joe Mercer. Among his team-mates as he did so was Glyn Pardoe, who was Doyle’s grandfather on his mother’s side and made the first of his 380 City appearances aged just 15.

Mike Doyle died in 2011, when Tommy was nine. Pardoe passed away three years ago.

“I don’t see it as a pressure because I am so proud of what they have done for this club,” Doyle told the City website in 2020 after signing a five-year contract.

“It is not an easy thing to do to go out and play games, especially the number of games both my granddads played. It is something I am just so proud of, and it will almost be correct for me to bring on their legacy. It is the right thing to do.

“It is something they worked so hard for. It is something I have worked so hard for. Both of them, more so my granddad Glyn, have been a part of getting me where I am today.”

Today, Doyle is within sight of becoming a regular Premier League player. In the space of a few weeks this spring and early summer, he has played a key role in helping Sheffield United return to the top flight and came off the bench in the final as England won the European Under-21 Championship.

Now comes his chance to prove himself among the elite.

For a 21-year-old, Doyle has achieved a lot already. He has played in the Premier League (albeit for 16 minutes as a replacement for Riyad Mahrez in a 5-0 win over Newcastle United in 2020) and captained England in several age groups, using the maturity and leadership skills that also saw him wear the armband in City’s academy.

Last season brought about his big breakthrough. After two loans in the 2021-22 season where he struggled for consistency — first in the German second division with Hamburg and then in the Championship with Cardiff City from the January — he returned for another crack at England’s second tier with Sheffield United and shone.

Four goals and six assists across 37 appearances in all competitions followed two goals and three assists in 20 for Cardiff. But more than the numbers, at Bramall Lane, he became a key player as Paul Heckingbottom’s side won automatic promotion.

Doyle did most of his work as the central holding player or on the left of a midfield three in Heckingbottom’s 3-5-2 system, with his touch map showing where he operated:

A breakdown of his minutes in the league shows that Doyle, who has operated in a range of midfield roles for City’s youth teams, played mainly as a holding player or orthodox central midfielder:

positions tommy doyle 2022 23

His pass completion rate of 73 per cent put him in the bottom third of midfielders in the Championship last season but his smarterscout ‘pizza chart’ puts that figure into context.

Smarterscout gives players’ games a series of ratings based on real data, scoring them how often they perform a certain stylistic action (for example, volume of shots per touch), or how effective they are at it (for example, how well they progress the ball upfield) compared with others playing in their position. And, crucially, all ratings are adjusted to compare players to Premier League standards.

The ‘progressive passing’ score is an indication of how many passes the player attempts that move his team 10 metres or more upfield per attacking touch. Doyle’s rating of 79 out of 99 shows his passing range and willingness to take risks.

pizza tommy doyle CM 2022 23

Ratings of 30 out of 99 for link-up play volume and 12 out of 99 for ball retention underline that Doyle was asked to try longer, upfield passes over easier, possession-retaining ones, which could account for his relatively low success rate.

A map of every one of his progressive passes (defined as a pass that advances the ball at least 25 per cent closer to the opponent’s goal line) highlights two of his main tasks for Sheffield United — spreading play to wide men or playing passes behind opposing defences for forward runners.

doyle prog passes

Smarterscout offers solid evidence of positioning out of possession, with a score of 87 out of 99 for the fairly self-explanatory ‘ball recoveries and interceptions’. In raw data, his figure of 8.2 ball recoveries per 90 minutes last season was in the top five per cent of Championship midfielders.

He highlighted two strengths of his play in April’s home game against West Bromwich Albion when pursuing forward Brandon Thomas-Asante:


Doyle caught up with the striker and won the ball back…


…then found the space in midfield to try one of his trademark long-range passes…


…and picked out the run of fellow City loanee James McAtee:


Set-piece delivery is another Doyle strength, as highlighted by this right-wing corner against Preston North End a few days later, resulting in a goal for Anel Ahmedhodzic:


Doyle delivered the corner perfectly onto the head of the Bosnia and Herzegovina centre-back, who found the bottom corner:


His delivery from wide areas in open play is strong too, as team-mate Jack Robinson discovered, also in April this year, against visitors Cardiff…


…as Doyle’s delivery allowed him to head United into the lead in an eventual 4-1 home win:


Doyle also managed a couple of spectacular goals. One came in the FA Cup against fellow Championship side Blackburn Rovers in March:

And he dispatched an impressive free kick away to Millwall in the Championship a month earlier:

His displays in the second tier put him firmly on the radar of Wolves, who were assessing alternatives to long-standing target Alex Scott.

Doyle’s combination of creative and defensive skills, plus an impressive level of maturity, led to inevitable comparisons. Scott moved to Bournemouth from the Championship’s Bristol City in a blow to Wolves’ summer plans but they have adjusted to land another highly-rated player.

After a lifetime associated with one club, Doyle now has the chance to prove himself at another.

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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