Tuesday 15 October 2019

Doherty enters the big league after agreeing new bumper contract at Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Matt Doherty. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters
Wolverhampton Wanderers' Matt Doherty. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

Daniel McDonnell and Jamie Holland

Matt Doherty has been rewarded for his excellent performances by signing a new Wolves deal that will earn him in the region of £50,000 (€57,000) per week.

The Dubliner has signed a new deal that will keep him at Molineux until 2023, and it's believed that he will more than double his current salary once bonuses are factored in.

Doherty signed a new four-year deal with Wolves just under 18 months ago when they were still in the Championship.

The right wing-back's displays this year have pushed him to another level and Wolves have duly moved to secure his services with a number of other Premier League sides monitoring his situation.

Doherty's old deal was close to £20,000 per week but he has received a massive pay rise that will offer the 27-year-old long-term security.

He cost Wolves just €40,000 when then boss Mick McCarthy moved to sign him from Bohemians in 2010.

Bohs and his former schoolboy club Belvedere will not be overjoyed by Doherty's decision to commit his future to Wolves as they stand to benefit from sell-on clauses if the player is ever sold.

The Wolves hierarchy have also tied down Conor Coady until 2023 on similar terms.

McCarthy's use of Doherty is going to be one of the challenges facing the new Ireland manager.

He is also an admirer of the in-form Bristol City winger Callum O'Dowda who will be in opposition as Doherty's side seek to book a place in the FA Cup quarter finals.

Bristol City's nine-game winning streak makes them the most in-form team in the top four divisions, yet manager Lee Johnson says the only special treatment it has earned him at home is an extra Yorkshire pudding with his Sunday roast.

City, who have risen to fifth in the Championship, last made the play-offs in 2008, when Johnson's father, Gary, was manager and Lee was playing in the first team.

They went all the way to Wembley, falling at the last hurdle to secure back-to-back promotions. Johnson says he has been unable to take advantage of his father's wisdom recently as Gary, now Torquay United manager, is doing an impressive job of launching his own promotion bid, guiding his sixth-tier side to the top of the National League South thanks to seven wins from eight matches.

"I haven't actually spoken to him about it, he's busy," Johnson said of his father. "But the Johnson Sunday dinners at the moment are going well, because we're both on good runs. Mum always puts an extra Yorkshire on both plates.

"I do go to him every now and again and we share (advice), actually. But he's been there and he's done it. I was obviously playing during that time, so I had a front-row seat, and naturally you pick up things."

City's headline-grabbing run suggests Johnson does not need the help, but they did drop from sixth this time last year to finish a relatively disappointing 11th, so there are lessons to learn.

Johnson has managed the club since 2016, steering them away from relegation in his first season.

At 37, he is the second-youngest manager in the Championship (Preston North End's Alex Neil is two days younger).

Despite his age, he combines his innovative coaching techniques, including creating an app for his players with play-books and video footage of training, with "old school values".

This weekend, the league is not the focus however, as today's fifth-round FA Cup tie provides him with the chance to achieve 10 wins on the trot.

A victory in the third round over Huddersfield and then against Bolton brought them to this stage. Now they host the team many point to as having prompted last season's decline.

A pivotal December loss at home featured two red cards and Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo being sent to the stands before his team scored a stoppage-time winner.

The result helped Wolves run away with the league, while City endured a steady fall.

That was the last time Nuno's side visited Ashton Gate and Johnson, who completed his coaching badges with the Portuguese, is certain a top Wolves XI will be fielded for their return.

"We've done well in terms of Premier League teams we've beaten, but it will probably be different this time," he said.

"Nuno knows a lot about me and he knows a lot about Bristol City, having come from the Championship. I'm sure he will pick a team that has got enough, in his mind's eye, to progress in a tournament they think they can win."

Another top-tier scalping would put them in the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time in 45 years, but Johnson and his side are no strangers to cup runs.

Last season they made it to the semi-finals of the League Cup, beating Watford, Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Manchester United before falling to Manchester City, the eventual winners, losing 5-3 on aggregate.

"That feeling of winning when you're the underdog is special and the bigger the distance, in terms of the opposition, to you, obviously the more euphoric the feeling," Johnson said.

"When we beat Manchester United, that was clearly a great underdog story. I wouldn't put this in the same category as that one, yet.

This wariness of the unpredictable nature of the FA Cup is clear in Johnson superstitiously tapping his head and the table when he mentions his side's overflowing list of fit players.

Though a handful of Premier League match-ups in the fourth round opened up the competition somewhat, Johnson is not about to jinx anything.

"A lot of the big boys are out of the tournament, and I think there will be a Championship side that makes it to the semi-finals - I'm sure," he says.

"But we know very well in football that the minute you start believing your own hype, that can come back to haunt you very quickly."

Irish Independent

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