Matt Doherty speaks about Jose Mourinho snub at lowest point of his Tottenham career
"You’ve got to stay on the bus."
Matt Doherty has been speaking about his lowest point at Tottenham Hotspur under Jose Mourinho.
The Republic of Ireland international has recently experienced a significant upturn in form under Antonio Conte but struggled under Mourinho, the manager who signed him from Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In March 2021, Doherty travelled with his Spurs teammates for a match against Aston Villa. It would prove to be his lowest point under the Portuguese coach, who was sacked the following month.
Matt Doherty: I had to remain on the Tottenham bus after Mourinho snub.
The Dubliner, 30, was omitted from the first-team squad in favour of academy players. And to make matters worse, Doherty was told that he must remain on the team bus alone due to Covid-19 protocols.
"I went to get off the bus and it was Covid at the time," Doherty told reporters.
"So, you weren’t allowed in the changing room if you weren’t in the squad. Ledley [King], who was the assistant coach, was like: ‘You’ve got to stay on the bus.’ Once the game started I was allowed to go into the stands.
"So, now I was just sat on the bus on my own,' Doherty continued.
"Genuinely, because it was the international break straight after, I was so close to just getting in the car and going. I think [Ireland] were meeting in Manchester anyway. I didn’t in the end, I decided I’d stay and watch the game and then go."
Matt Doherty: Jose Mourinho was trying to prove a point.
Doherty was hurt by the snub and ignominy of having to sit alone on the team bus, but is now 'glad' that he didn't storm off, as he has since turned his Tottenham career around,
"It's just not professional (to leave the stadium), is it, to do that?" Doherty said
"In your head, you’re sitting on the bus and thinking: ‘What’s the point in watching the game? I might as well go.’
"There were kids, and that’s no disrespect to kids, on the bench. [Mourinho] was trying to prove a point to everybody, not just for me but for the players who weren’t there either, but it was not fun."
Doherty's form under Antonio Conte.
Despite Mourinho's departure soon after that incident, Doherty's fortunes at Spurs didn't improve for almost a year.
Nuno Espirito Santo, Mourinho's successor, rarely started the Irishman, despite working with him at Wolves. And he didn't become a regular under Conte until February.
Doherty, however, is the form of his life at the moment.
In his last six Premier League games, the Dubliner has recorded four assists and scored two goals.
Doherty, who looked set to leave Tottenham in January, now appears tailor-made for Conte's wing-back system.
He scored and registered an assist in Spurs' 5-1 win over Newcastle United on Saturday.