A potential change at Tottenham that might impact Matt Doherty and the Republic of Ireland.
In a match that had a penalty shootout, a touchline bust-up, two goals, and an unscheduled bathroom break, you’d be forgiven for overlooking a comment that Jose Mourinho made in the aftermath of Tottenham’s win over Chelsea in the Carabao Cup.
While all eyes were on Sergio Reguilon’s debut for Spurs – the Spaniard was poor in the buildup to Chelsea’s goal as he gave away possession and sold himself far too easily by jumping into a slide tackle – his arrival at Spurs does give Mourinho more options.
In terms of tactical changes, it looks like Spurs could switch to three at the back with a wing-back pairing of Doherty and Reguilon.
Speaking after the game, Mourinho said: “The system of three is something that we can do, it’s something the players are learning to do. That tactical culture is of course bigger. In this moment we can face a team that has different systems and it doesn’t matter how they come, the players know what to do, they know the differences and what they have to adapt.”
The news of Mourinho’s intention to potentially use three at the back should bode well for Doherty’s domestic career – at Wolves, the Dubliner registered 15 goals and 15 assists over the past two seasons (18-19, 19-20), a figure that’s second only to Trent Alexander-Arnold as the Premier League’s most producing right-back/right wing-back during that period – but since moving to Tottenham, Matt Doherty has played as part of a back-four.
This is the position that the former Bohemians man has also played for Ireland in Stephen Kenny’s first two games in charge and while Doherty performed ok in the games against Bulgaria and Finland, any hopes that Irish fans had that Doherty would get used to playing in a back-four at club level might be changing.
Of course, the 28-year-old has played right-back plenty of times in his career, but it’s arguable that his best football is when he’s played in the right wing-back position.
Given Stephen Kenny’s history of playing four at the back, it appears that Doherty could be alternating positions for club and country.
When asked if he has a preference, Doherty said: “They’re so different and I don’t think people realise. You don’t have to do as much defending as a wing-back. I’m finding that as a right-back and I’m getting used to it. I’m still learning and I’m still improving. It’s something I’m excited about. I know I can play at right-back but I’m getting myself into this shape and it’s something I’m excited about.”
Jose Mourinho and Matt Doherty were both talking to the media ahead of Tottenham’s Europa League clash against Maccabi Haifa on Thursday where the Dubliner is expected to start.
As for Doherty’s immediate future in the green jersey, he’s part of the squad for Ireland’s upcoming European Championship qualifier against Slovakia and the Nations League matches against Wales and Finland