Kevin Phillips believes that Jose Mourinho wanted to send Matt Doherty a message that his performances have not been good enough by leaving the right-back out of the matchday squad against Aston Villa.
Doherty has struggled to make an impact since arriving at Tottenham last summer, with the former Wolves man playing second fiddle to Serge Aurier for the majority of the season.
It seemed as though the 29-year-old had turned a corner ahead of the North London Derby as he was getting a run of games under his belt and Mourinho was quite complimentary about his performances.
However, the Republic of Ireland international put in a poor display at the Emirates and came under criticism for his poor defending for the Gunners’ opener.
Doherty was not part of the team that were humiliated at Dinamo Zagreb days following the derby defeat but the defender was not named in the squad for Tottenham’s trip to Villa Park, with Mourinho opting to start Japhet Tanganga at right-back instead.
When asked about Mourinho’s decision to leave Doherty out of the squad, Phillips told Football Insider: “It’s not great. But what is the real decision for him being dropped? We don’t know.
“If it’s a footballing decision I find it a bit strange because Doherty is a class player. I was a bit surprised when he went to Tottenham.
“I thought he did quite well early on but sometimes as a manager you have to make statements to tell your players they need to be more consistent.
“Whether that’s in training or when you’re picked at the weekend and Mourinho isn’t afraid to make those decisions.
“As a player, it will hurt. The manager will hope that it hurts the player so they start performing in training so they can come back into your thinking when selecting a squad.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Despite Doherty’s struggles this season, I believed until a few weeks ago that Aurier was more likely to be sold in the summer out of our two right-backs since the Ivorian is about to enter the final year of his contract.
However, I now expect both Aurier and Doherty to potentially leave in the summer and for Mourinho (if he stays) to sign someone like Aarons and use Tanganga as his main understudy next season.
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