Bramall Lane’s band of FA Cup brothers

Michael Doyle wants another great FA Cup memory � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Michael Doyle wants another great FA Cup memory � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Michael Doyle wants to create another magical FA Cup memory when Fulham visit Bramall Lane tomorrow, writes James Shield.

And the former Republic of Ireland international, who captained Sheffield United to victory over Aston Villa three weeks ago, believes reaching the later stages of the competition has helped Nigel Clough create a special atmosphere behind the scenes.

Doyle, reflecting upon the third round tie with Paul Lambert’s side, said: “Games like Villa are the things that we all remember when we retire.

“I’ve been fortunate to enjoy some big results in the cup and, I’m sure when I finish, that’s when it will hit me how big those wins were.

“I don’t say that to the young lads to be fair because I don’t think they want to hear about it. But there is a bond between those involved in a special result.

“With this group, we have our own little bond because we have beaten Aston Villa. As an older pro, I just soak it in more.”

United’s exploits in the cup, where Colchester and Cambridge have also been beaten en route to the meeting with Fulham, contrast sharply with their fortunes in League One where Clough’s charges are battling against relegation.

Doyle, reflecting upon the 47-year-old’s appointment in October, said: “There was a lot of expectation surrounding us at the start and we haven’t lived up to that.

“The manager coming in has really picked us up. He has grabbed us by the scruff of the neck if you like and I don’t think we are a million miles off being that team who wins games.”

Doyle, a member of the Leeds team which ended Manchester United’s hopes of lifting the trophy in 2010, added: “When the manager and his staff arrived we weren’t in an ideal position. We still aren’t.

“But they demand more all the time and that was probably the approach we needed. We were down there and feeling sorry for ourselves but they just drive us on.”

Fulham, just a place and a point above the Premier League’s relegation zone, required a replay to overcome Norwich City in the previous round. Darren Bent, Steve Sidwell and Ashkan Dejagah were all on target while Alexander Kacaniklic, who yesterday extended his contract at Craven Cottage, claimed an assist.

“The FA Cup has been so important to us this season,” Doyle said. “Up to the Colchester game we hadn’t been in the best of form and hadn’t won away from home for instance.

“But we won there and things went from that. The Cup has helped us in the league, there is no question about that.

“Maybe results lately haven’t always gone our way but the performances have been there.

“We have overcome that habit from early in the season when we were losing games late on. I believe we are a couple of results away from looking a really good side.”