Matt Doherty. Ian Walton
Doc following orders

'It looked like he might leave...that goal against Leeds seems to have transformed him'

Matt Doherty’s return to form at Tottenham was under discussion on this week’s episode of the Football Family.

IT HAS BEEN, as Charlie Eccleshare terms it, “The Doherty Renaissance.” 

Charlie covers Tottenham Hotspur for The Athletic, and spoke to this week’s edition of the Football Family about Doherty’s establishing himself in Antonio Conte’s high-flying side. 

To listen to the full episode of a weekly podcast covering all things Irish football at home and abroad, subscribe at 

Doherty failed to nail down a first-team place under either Jose Mourinho or his old Wolves boss Nuno, and initially struggled for minutes under Conte, to the point he was linked with an exit in the January window. Both he and his international manager insisted a move was never on the cards, and Doherty has since become first-choice under Conte. He has usually played at right wing-back, though played off the left against Newcastle on Sunday, in Sergio Reguilon’s absence.

He scored in that game, to further his recent influence: he has two goals and three assists in his last seven games for Spurs. 

“In January it looked like he might leave the club”, said Charlie on the Football Family.

“He said that was never close, but he wasn’t getting game time – or was only getting it when Spurs were really desperate – and then that goal against Leeds in February seems to have transformed him.

“[Conte] has given them incredibly clear instructions. They really know what they are doing at each moment. Everything is well co-ordinated under him. Even with Doherty, who looks like such a chaotic player in some ways. It’s all very carefully choreographed. Conte has given him the licence to do what he did at Wolves really effectively, which is almost to play as a penalty box poacher, which is not something we associate with a wing back but that was Doherty’s great strength at Wolves. He is being encouraged to play very high and wide and he is revelling in it.

“And his passing! There was a game against Everton a couple of weeks ago where he set two goals up for Harry Kane, a threaded through ball and then a lofted pass over Kane’s shoulder, that were extraordinary. Those, I have to say, are levels we haven’t seen with him before.” 

In spite of his fine current form, whether Doherty will remain first-choice at Tottenham next season remains to be seen. 

“My understanding is that Spurs will probably go after another right wing-back in the summer but I would imagine, were they to do that, it would be Emerson Royal who would suffer more than Doherty, squad-wise.

“Doherty has done enough to at least be in contention. He is an automatic starter at the moment, we saw him play off the left [against Newcastle] he has more versatility than we realise.” 

To listen to the full conversation, subscribe at 

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