BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
MICHAEL DOYLE started 2016 by attempting to help Jack Ross steer Alloa clear of the Championship drop-zone.
The Morton defender hopes to end the year by dumping his former manager further into another relegation mire.
The 25-year-old has nothing but good things to say about Ross’ nous and man management following a two month stint at Recreation Park under the promising coach.
Doyle ultimately departed for St Johnstone, while Ross was unable to mastermind a great escape with the Wasps despite a laudable late rally.
Doyle has not been surprised to see Ross get a tune out of St Mirren after joining them in October – claiming seven points from a possible 12 in their most recent outings – however he is determined to halt any semblance of a recovery in today’s mouth-watering Renfrewshire Derby.
Doyle said: “I was with Jack for a spell at Alloa and, even in the short time I worked with him, the changes that he brought in were bright and starting to pay dividends. His man management is superb and he know how to get a group motivated.
“I thought when I saw him going to St Mirren that he would start to turn things around, so it’s no surprise to see them picking up points here and there, especially with the players they have.
“In this league you can have a couple of bad months, and still go on to have a decent season, which could happen there – although I’m sure the Morton fans will be hoping that isn’t the case!
“Personally, I don’t really care where they finish, as long as we keep picking up results the way have done.
“A lot of people keep saying that our bubble will burst but, from what I see, we are getting stronger and stronger and this squad is realising how good they could be.”
Doyle is acutely aware that another derby will hog the headlines this morning, noting “the focus for a lot of people is probably going on in Glasgow” – but he reckons there is only one show in town.
Morton claimed bragging rights over the Buddies with a comprehensive 3-1 triumph in November and he knows the Cappielow faithful would love nothing more than inflicting a Hogmanay hammering on their fiercest foes.
He continued: “I know the Old Firm derby is on as well but, as far as I’m concerned, this is as big as anything happening in Scotland on Hogmanay. The boys are really psyched up for it and know how much it means to the supporters.
“It means just as much to the players and staff. We all want to be involved in the biggest occasions and going to St Mirren on the 31st is about as big as it gets. It is some way to round off the year!”
As well as local pride, a triumph will ensure Morton conclude the calendar year in third spot in the Championship – a phenomenal achievement just 18 months after they won promotion back to the second tier.
They also reached the semi-final of the Betfred Cup this term, narrowly losing out to Aberdeen. Little wonder, then, that Doyle cannot wait to see what the New Year brings.
He added: “It has been a great year, with some memorable results in the league and running Aberdeen so close in the League Cup.
“However, no prizes are given out at the end of the year . . . unfortunately, because third place would be great! It’s about where we are at the end of the season and we’re all really excited about what we can do at the turn of the year.”