Following Tottenham Hotspur’s upturn in results, where the team’s performances have been exceptional, a lot of focus has been on how happy manager Antonio Conte and striker Harry Kane have looked. However, someone who is possibly even happier than that pair after recent matches is defender Matt Doherty.
The Republic of Ireland international has had a tough time of it since he made the decision to move to Spurs from Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2020. It has taken a long time for the Dublin-born defender to make his mark in north London but after struggling to adapt playing in a flat back four under Jose Mourinho, and then his former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santos, Doherty became the team’s scapegoat and the supporters were quick to get on his back.
His place at the club looked in jeopardy with the arrival of Emerson Royal in the summer, but the former Barcelona man has proven to be a defensive liability. Royal’s poor start to life at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has seen Doherty brought in from the cold.
He has played 90 minutes in both of Spurs’ back-to-back victories over Leeds United and Everton and he has offered his manager a lot defensively and offensively, which has had a much-needed positive impact on Conte’s revolution. With one goal and three assists, plus two clean sheets, he is making great progress in becoming his manager’s most dependable wing-back.
😏 Nailed down that right wing-back spot under Conte
Doherty’s excellent displays in recent matches have shown the supporters exactly why he was brought down south and it doesn’t take rocket science to understand why the Irishman is suddenly thriving. In his more comfortable role in a back five, he knows his role inside and out because that was where he was playing the best football of his career at Wolves under Nuno, which made the Portuguese coach’s decision to persist with a back four even more baffling.
The defender has put his torrid start to life in N17 behind him and now he can start to think about kick-starting his chapter at Spurs, and Conte is the right person to get the best out of him. This will help influence a positive change in Tottenham’s fortunes as they look to correct their course and be in the frame to compete for silverware once again.
Conte’s style and shape is renowned for the wing-backs to be instrumental in his teams pushing high up the pitch, and with Doherty soaring, he knows he has his right flank covered. Only Son Heung-min has more assists at the club in the league this term, which just highlights the threat he poses in the final third and how much more he can offer his attacking team-mates moving forward.
The resurgence of Doherty under Conte can be compared to the Italian’s impact on Victor Moses in the Premier League with Chelsea in 2016-17. The Nigerian, who was on the fringes at Stamford Bridge, suddenly found himself as a key cog in Conte’s system and began to thrive with the manager’s faith and trust.
It would be fair to assume that Doherty is going to be the Italian’s next pupil. Not only will he rebuild the defender’s confidence, he will look to make him one of the best full-backs in the league and if Doherty’s form trajectory keeps heading in the same direction, Conte will have worked his magic again.
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