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Tottenham players should take blame for Mourinho axe, says star

Matt Doherty has admitted he and his Tottenham team-mates have to take their share of responsibility for former boss Jose Mourinho’s premature departure.

Spurs parted company with the hugely-successful Portuguese in April just 17 months after his appointment, with the club lying in seventh place in the Premier League table having been dumped out of the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb.

But asked if the manager’s demise had been a case of burnout, full-back Doherty said: “He was only there for 18 months. If it was three or four years, it could be a different conversation, but we just weren’t getting the results for him.

“The manager is always the one to lose his job, but as players, we were the ones on the pitch and we weren’t able to get the results for him, which was a shame because he’s one of the best managers ever.”

Doherty, who is currently on international duty with the Republic of Ireland ahead of Tuesday’s friendly in Hungary, was a regular in Mourinho’s team before a positive Covid-19 test cost him his place, and he had no problems with the way he was treated by the manager.

The 29-year-old said: “I definitely got a fair crack of the whip. I still played 25, 26, 27 games – that’s a lot of games in a season, so I definitely got a fair crack.

“I had a great relationship with him. He was my neighbour for the whole year, so the relationship was fine. He was a great guy, but unfortunately these things happen in football.

“That was the case, but he is Jose Mourinho, he is one of the best ever and I have nothing but praise for him.”

Doherty will have a new manager at Spurs next season – talks with Antonio Conte hit the buffers on Friday – and in the meantime, he will continue the process of cementing his place in Stephen Kenny’s new-look Ireland team.

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Doherty focused on Ireland

Kenny finally tasted victory for the first time at the 12th attempt in Andorra on Thursday evening, although only after his side fought back from 1-0 down to win 4-1.

Doherty said: “At 1-0 down, I felt like it was almost the end of the world, really. It wasn’t looking pretty, was it?

“But look, we managed to switch on. Maybe it was the little wake-up call that we might have needed to get into gear. It was good enough in the end.”

Two quick-fire goals from Doherty’s 19-year-old club-mate Troy Parrott set the ball rolling in Andorra as the Republic belatedly clicked into gear.

Asked why Ireland had to wait so long for a win under their new manager, the Spurs defender, a member of the side which lost 1-0 to Luxembourg in a World Cup qualifier in March, said: “Maybe just a lack of belief, maybe we were kind of playing and didn’t actually believe we could get over the line.

“No game is easy. We’re playing against these countries’ best players. Look, it hasn’t been easy at all and as players, we take the majority of the blame for that.

“But now it’s time to turn the page. We beat Andorra the other day – obviously everyone expected us to beat them and we did, so look, let’s turn the page back on to a winning track and see where that takes us now.”

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