Matt Doherty has opened up on his transfer to Tottenham back in 2020, revealing the close discussions he had with then-head coach Jose Mourinho and admitting the move understandably did wonders for his ego.
The wing-back opted to bring the curtain down on 10 years at Wolves after impressing in his first two seasons as a Premier League player, earning a move to Spurs for just over £13m.
A boyhood Arsenal fan, tweets of Doherty’s expressing his love for Tottenham’s north London rivals resurfaced on the eve of the transfer, and his unveiling video involved him looking sheepish and deleting these old posts.
Speaking in an honest interview with the Irish Independent, Doherty said that a pay rise of course played a role in wanting to make the switch to N17, but there were various other factors which played a role in his decision.
“Yeah, it’s easy to say that [it was about money]. That is a part of it also and it is part of the industry,” Doherty said.
“If someone is here [Doherty places his hand at medium height], then they want to get to here [raising hand to a higher level]. But first of all, Jose [Mourinho] was the manager and it would’ve been silly to say no to him. And he really wanted me.
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“He told me that I was his number one choice to come in. He even said to me that if the chairman came to him and said that he could only have one signing in the summer, I was the only one he wanted. So who would say no to that?
“Spurs are a huge club, the training ground, the stadium, possibly fighting for Champions League football. I had run my course at Wolves. I wanted to try and leave that summer anyway, whether it was Tottenham or not. I had been there for so long and would have regretted staying any longer. Every player is different.
“Even when things were not going well, I still didn’t regret it. I was happy to make the step. It’s a bit of an ego thing also, isn’t it? You want to say that you’ve played for a top team. Tottenham choose 11 players every week, who are all top players, and you are one of those players. That gives you a good feeling.
“My dad didn’t love the move for me. He would probably have had me stay at Wolves, but how could I say no? I probably could’ve gone back to Wolves and said, ‘Give me a second contract’, but I didn’t want to do that. And I saw stuff saying about going back in the January window, but I didn’t want to do that either. I had a great time at Wolves, but I think if I went back…you should never really go back.”
Doherty began the 2020/21 season as first choice right-back in a 4-2-3-1 formation for Tottenham and had different responsibilities than in the 3-4-3 system he was used to at Wolves, and he was eventually dropped in by Mourinho in favour of Serge Aurier.
“I let him down,” Doherty said of Mourinho. “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 Jose, 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.”
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