Its no secret to Blades fans that we have a problem in Michael Doyle, his shortcomings in his ability to pass and his tackles making little or no impact leave many frustrated. And despite his winner against Port Vale, his notion to shoot from long range and often miss by a country mile does little more than leave fans furious. On one occasion he actually cleared the roof of the Kop from twenty yards outside the box, to do this on purpose is no easy achievement so to do it accidentally from a shot highlights why many get wound up about it.
But its not just his technical ability many fans who travelled to Crewe last season witnessed him argue with a fan, clearly hearing him use obscenities towards the spectator. Whilst Doyle was being heckled by many of the crowd after a poor pass he chose to aim his tirade at an adolescent who was stating he made a poor decision in passing the ball out wide to a marked player, one of the few fans who didn't use any obscene language, this not only caused outrage but did not set a good example to younger players, and certainly showed his merits to be captain were questionable. To the Skippers credit after the final whistle instead of heading down the tunnel he headed to the Blades following and apologised to the fan he had verbally attacked, but by then the damage had been done and the crowd was against him. Whether as a midfielder or as a Captain the question remains does Michael Doyle merit his place in the team, the armband and his earnings, or is it time he was moved on?
Whilst Doyle does put in a shift each game he does a lot to actually hinder the team, this is not an attitude issue it stems more that Doyle is more the calibre of player to be a first team regular in League Two.
To succeed in this division The Blades are going to need a Midfielder who not only gives one hundred percent each game, but also has the technical ability to give us the edge in games. So who are our options?
Antoni Sarcevic is a young man with lots of potential, this youngster worked under Dario Gradi at Crewe and has been touted to be a success. Technically gifted and strong on the ball, this young man could link up nicely with the team both going forward and helping out in defence. He has scored goals everywhere he has been and also bagged a lot of assists.
At his young age it could be the right time to bring the lad up a level to League One and let him be Doyle's replacement. Currently playing for Fleetwood he is a realistic target, his wage would be considerably less than Doyle, and of course the Transfer fee would not take a huge chunk of Prince Abdullah's investment.
Salva Rivas is a former Spanish Under Nineteens International currently playing for Real Oviedo, a team famously saved from ceasing to exist by investors worldwide, investors who were ordinary people, saved by the public, but not saved from playing in the Spanish equivalent of League Two. The young defensive midfielder has expressed his desire to move away from Real Oviedo and now could be a great time to convince him to come to England. Like many Spanish youngsters he is no stranger to stroking the ball around the pitch and dictating tempo, but many feel the reason he never progressed to higher levels in Spain was his inability to stop making crunching 'British' style tackles and going against the Spanish philosophy and breaking their ranks by taking the fight to the opposition, rather than awaiting the chance to counter attack. To me he sounds like the perfect midfielder and could be the ideal replacement.
The Blades are no stranger to Michael Tongue, we all know what he can and can not do. In League One Michael Tongue despite being no spring chicken could be a vital part of pushing on, he has the ability to be a playmaker and the ability to dig in. Whilst he has soiled his good name by playing for our enemy up the M1 he thrilled us by showing his disdain for our city rivals scoring against them last season.
I think this may be the least popular of my picks but I for one think its time to bring Michael Tongue home.
Whilst the above are more than able to replace Doyle as a midfielder, with the exception of Michael Tongue they aren't the type of players who have the experience and ability to lead our dressing room. This would leave us with the predicament of who should get the armband?
The first and most obvious choice would be the experienced centre back. Neil Collins has worn the armband before, he knows the team, his attitude is without question that of a modern professional, but would we have the same problems we have with Doyle? Whilst he has the experience some fans claim he is now in a position where we need a better option and Neil should become back up. Whether you agree with this or not whilst he is in the first team I believe he is a better option for the captaincy than Michael Doyle.
Whilst already a fan favourite and showing why he is so highly thought of is Harry Maguire ready to be our leader? A tall strong yet technically sound centre half surely the perfect candidate for captaincy, but we all forget that Harry is only twenty years of age. Harry still sometimes makes those mistakes that come with being a youngster, and its good he has the experience of Collins next to him, some may argue that while ever Harry is making these errors its not the time to make him captain, but is that missing the point? Harry is at an age where he needs to keep his head on his shoulders, he is still in danger of going of the rails as all young players who earn a large wage are. The added responsibility of being a leader and setting an example could actually help keep Harry's feet on the ground and improve him even more as a footballer. Is it time we gave Harry the armband and let him run with it. Its a risk but is it one worth taking?
Looking elsewhere is not always the solution, but in this case is it a vein effort looking for a new captain amongst the current crop? Would it make more sense to purposely go out looking for a proven leader whilst looking to strengthen another position. Much like the Harry option its a risk, but like all risks they have to be calculated, and looking elsewhere would involve a lot of research and scouting.