When a new manager joins a football club, there is always going to be winners and losers among the squad they inherit.
Since Antonio Conte’s arrival at Tottenham Hotspur, it’s hard to think of anyone who has benefited more than Matt Doherty.
Doherty signed for Spurs in the summer of 2020 (The Guardian), but failed to make an impact under Jose Mourinho.
When his ex-manager, Nuno Espírito Santo took over in the summer of 2021, there were hopes he may get the best out of his former player. That didn’t happen.
In fact, the Spurs faithful had all but given up hope on the right-back, with many calling for his departure even as recently as this January transfer window (This Is Futbol).
Doherty was inconsistent, sloppy in possession, guilty of poor positioning, and his confidence appeared to be at rock bottom.
Fast forward a couple of months, and Matt Doherty is now in the form of his life. Since the 4-0 win at Leeds on February 26, Doherty has contributed two league goals, and four assists, keeping three clean sheets in the process (Premier League).
His performance against Newcastle last Sunday was a real signal of just how far the Irishman has come in such a short space of time.
He had to move over to the left wing-back position, with many worrying this would provide a weakness in the Spurs defence. However, this enforced change ended up being one of the biggest strengths of an already blistering attack.
Doherty not only got himself on the scoresheet, but he also managed to offer up an assist for his fellow wing-back rival, Emerson Royal.
That result, performance, and particularly the success of the wing-backs, was further proof that Antonio Conte can work wonders with this formation.
There’s no denying that Conte is something of a miracle worker when it comes to wing-backs.
You only have to look at the incredible transformation of Victor Moses at Chelsea under the Italian’s management (Daily Mail). And, the same appears to be happening now at Tottenham, with Doherty the main beneficiary.
We can’t heap all this praise on Conte though, and not give credit where it’s due for Doherty. The defender was seemingly a lost cause, and it would have been very easy for someone in his situation to give up and get out. But not Doherty.
He has shown a brilliant level of professionalism, dedication, and willingness to improve and adapt. Doherty’s work rate, both in defence and attack, has been phenomenal in recent weeks, and he’s getting the rewards at both ends of the pitch, too.
Against Newcastle, Doherty completed 30 successful passes (One Versus One), with just three failing in the whole match.
He is now a secure and stable element in the club’s possession-based tactic, proving to be reliable when called upon in defence, but most importantly, an energetic and intelligent attacker.
If Doherty can keep this form up until the end of the season, it’s very likely that he will still be a part of Conte’s plans for next season, regardless of where Spurs finish in the Premier League.
The Italian has spoken recently of his admiration of Doherty and his ‘great mentality’ (Alasdair Gold), and we all know how much Conte wants players he can rely on.
While Spurs still need to sign a new right wing-back in the summer, it looks as though Matt Doherty has secured his future at the club after an impressive comeback under Conte, and long may this resurgence continue.
Have something to tell us about this article?