Matt Doherty has offered a brutally honest assessment of his time working under Jose Mourinho at Tottenham Hotspur.
The Republic of Ireland right-back made the £14.7million move from Wolverhampton Wanderers in August 2020 having followed Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and goalkeeper Joe Hart through the door in north London as one of Mourinho’s first arrivals (The Guardian).
Having played over 300 appearances for Wolves after joining from League of Ireland side Bohemians in 2010, Doherty had built a reputation as being an attack-minded right wing-back.
Doherty struggled to make an impact under the management of the Portuguese with the 30-year-old admitting that he believed he let Mourinho down.
The former Wolves man believes that he had difficulties adapting to Mourinho’s style of play where he was not expected to play as much of an advanced role as what he was used to at Molineux and has even spoken to the 59-year-old on more than one occasion about his inability to meet his expectations.
He told the Irish Independent when asked about his experience of working with the current Roma manager: “I let him down.
“People think he was bad for me, but it was the other way around. He put a lot of faith in me and I didn’t really perform. I just didn’t play well, I just didn’t grasp it … I don’t know. I just wasn’t able to get going there at the start.
“The shape was obviously different [from Wolves]. The difference was that, at Tottenham, they have so much ability going forward, with the players they have, that maybe I wasn’t necessarily needed to play high and create stuff.
“So my main job was maybe just to be a defender. But my game is about going forward.
“To be fair to José, they tried to play me high, but it wasn’t working for the team. We were leaving too much space. I just didn’t perform for him. He’s a great guy … I could sit here with him now and have dinner with him and have the best time ever.
“I spoke to him a few times about it, but I don’t know what it was. It’s a bit of a regret that I wasn’t able to perform like how he saw me in his head.”
It is refreshing to see a player shouldering the responsibility for his own lack of form under a manager, rather than looking to point the blame elsewhere or keep silent.
Doherty has had a difficult time at Spurs but did show at the end of last season that he is capable of being the club’s first-choice right-wing back and also had a solid game against Everton earlier this month while Emerson Royal was suspended.
Conte should look to keep faith in Doherty ahead of the Newcastle match, chopping and changing is not what he needs and instead, consistent game time will only help to get him back to the level seen last season.
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