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Tottenham star Matt Doherty clears the air about Antonio Conte’s “I’m not stupid” remark

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Tottenham Hotspur’s Matt Doherty clears the air about Antonio Conte’s “I’m not stupid” comments

Speaking after Arsenal’s 3-1 win against his Tottenham Hotspur side, a game Matt Doherty played in for just 18 minutes as a substitute, Antonio Conte was visibly incensed when asked about his team selection.

When asked about Djed Spence’s playing time, or rather the lack of it, Conte replied by saying that he isn’t ‘stupid’ and urged Spurs fans to trust his team selection. He also namechecked Doherty (h/t NottinghamshireLive):

“We are talking about a young player with a good prospect, but I repeat I try to pick the best team. Also Doherty last season played every game. Now I’m not seeing him in the right way to start the game.”

“I’m not stupid, I don’t want to lose. I try to put the best team, to pick the best team. If they trust me it’s ok, if they don’t trust me then I’m the coach and I need to take the best decision for Tottenham.”

Tottenham Hotspur's Matt Doherty passes the ball as Brighton's Pervis Estupinan looks on during a match in October 2022. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur’s Matt Doherty passes the ball as Brighton’s Pervis Estupinan looks on during a match in October 2022. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

This was always going to cause a storm in the media but those who read the full interview and understood where Conte was coming from would perhaps understand that he didn’t mean it ‘that’ way. He’s never going to say that is ‘stupid’ if he picks either Spence or Dohery.

He clearly just meant that he knows what he is doing and the team he selects is to his best knowledge. Now, Doherty has replied to the incident in a composed manner, and logically discarded the issue as a case of misinterpretation. He said (h/t Evening Standard):

“To be honest, some of the lads, and one of my best friends, said that it was taken out of context. I didn’t read the whole thing, but they said to me that it was, and I trust their opinion.”

“Look, I spoke to the manger when I was on international [duty], I know what he expects of me. I took no offence to the comments at all. It didn’t spur me on.”

Antonio Conte after Tottenham Hotspur's 0-0 UEFA Champions League group stage draw against Eintracht Frankfurt in October 2022.
Antonio Conte after Tottenham Hotspur’s 0-0 UEFA Champions League group stage draw against Eintracht Frankfurt in October 2022. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

That’s that then. Just needless drama. The Republic of Ireland international, now 30, is a seasoned professional. He knows where he stands in the pecking order and what’s expected of him. Moreover, he would have seen the manager’s recent praise of him as well.

No way to tell if Conte’s decision to start he former Wolves defender against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex on Saturday was a way to compensate for his misinterpreted comments, but it was a good show of trust in the player.

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It was also his first league start this season. Hopefully, he builds on this and is still contending for a spot even when Emerson Royal is back from his red-card suspension.

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