Stephen Kenny: Doherty signing ‘good business’ for Tottenham

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Perspective is an interesting thing. Matt Doherty’s move from Wolves to Tottenham Hotspur, confirmed this morning, has been pitched as a brilliant move for a player who started out in the League of Ireland with Bohemians.

Stephen Kenny would argue that it is a brilliant move for Spurs, too, not least because they seem to be getting the Dubliner for £15m which, in current Premier League terms, is an absolute steal. It’s a fair point.

“It’s good business for Tottenham,” said the Ireland manager. 

“He’s been a brilliant servant for Wolves. I’m sure the Wolves supporters appreciate that. You don’t get many players who stay at a club for ten years and he still has some good years ahead of him.

“He shows his character by getting some late goals. Remember the goal for Ireland against Denmark, he scored a header at the back post from the conventional right-back position, but at Wolves he has got so many goals and assists. So, yeah, it’s a good bit of business for Tottenham.”

Kenny has no doubt but that Doherty will be a regular at his new digs. The expectation is that his arrival will nudge Serge Aurier out the door and Kenny, never one to talk in detail about the tactical side of things, sees his fellow Irishman fitting in just fine.

“Yeah, it’s interesting. I went to see Spurs a couple of times in the new stadium last season and looking at the way they played tactically was interesting. I’m interested in the fact that in international football it’s more and more evident that teams are not treating the pitch equally in the way they set up.

“The balance of the team is set up differently and Tottenham are an example of this. The left-back was being played very narrow. And when I was looking at Serge Aurier, in my eyeline he was in line with Harry Kane. His exact position was in line with Harry Kane. So they played with the left-back tucked right in and he was playing really high.

“So they set up like that last season and more and more sides are setting up with imbalanced teams in search of perfection. It’s quite nuanced and I can see why Matt would be a perfect fit in that scenario, but he can adapt to play the conventional back four as well. I don’t see a problem for that.”

Fitting Doherty into the Irish XI is another thing.

Possibly the standout Irish player in the Premier League in recent seasons, the 28-year old has been criminally underused by his country. Mick McCarthy started him on the right of midfield ahead of Seamus Coleman away in Gibraltar in his first game back in charge but didn’t repeat it.

It would beggar belief if a man of his talents could not be accommodated somewhere in an Irish team under the stewardship of a man who has made no secret of his intent to get the national side playing a better brand of football.

“Yeah, well it’s tough. There’s no there is no doubt that right back has been a strong position for Ireland. For me, its the strongest out of all the positions because Cyrus Christie has had a really strong end of season at Fulham.

“We could actually have four right-backs in the Premier League next year. There might be Seamus Coleman, Matt Doherty, Cyrus Christie and Dara O’Shea, which is unbelievable really, but it’s quite conceivable that that could happen.

“Matt has probably been undervalued by Ireland, only three competitive starts for Ireland at 28 years of age. That’s quite a stark statistic but at the same time Seamus has been an outstanding player for Ireland for a number of years. A brilliant captain. So it’s a good position to be in.”

It’s been a decent transfer window so far from an Irish perspective given Troy Parrott will get more first-team action at Millwall and Jeff Hendrick, who was in and out of matters with Burnley, has linked up with Newcastle United.

“Yeah, it’s interesting because I know Jeff is very keen to play in the central midfield,” said Kenny. “Obviously he made a lot of appearances for a Burnley team that did very, very well and he did a really good job for the team.

“He played different positions over the last few years, on the right side of the four the team and I know he is keen to play the central position and Newcastle is obviously a very, very big club. Hopefully he get to play in central the midfield there which would be fantastic for him.”

Another player who could probably do with some new surroundings is Shane Duffy who has fallen down the pecking order at Brighton & Hove Albion. Celtic’s interest is well-known and West Ham United have been mentioned in dispatches too.

“I think it’s important for Shane,” said Kenny. “He is desperate to play. He is at the peak of his career. “He has been a very strong personality for Ireland and for Brighton over the last few years.

“I’m sure a lot of managers would like to have Shane and, the type of player that he is, he needs to be playing. He knows that and whoever gets him will get a really, really competitive centre half who is tremendous in both boxes. He would be a real addition to whoever signs him.”

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