Former Tottenham defender Matt Doherty is hoping “unbelievable” manager Antonio Conte stays with Spurs “as long as possible” amid speculation over his future.
The Italian, whose contract is due to expire during the summer, has found himself under the spotlight following a weekend rant during which he accused his players of lacking professionalism and questioned the club’s culture over the last two decades.
Conte spoke out after seeing his team squander a 3-1 Premier League lead at Southampton to draw 3-3, prompting suggestions his tenure could be ended prematurely.
However, Republic of Ireland international Doherty, who left Spurs for Atletico Madrid in January, said: “Look, I hope he stays for a long time at Tottenham.
“He’s an unbelievable coach, an unbelievable manager. He won’t say anything in the press that he won’t say to his players. He’s completely honest with his players, has the passion for the whole club.
“For me, I hope Tottenham stick by him and hold onto him for as long as possible. He’s one of the best managers of all time.”
Doherty headed for Spain on deadline day when his contract with the north London club was mutually terminated after a proposed loan deal could not be processed because Spurs already had eight players – the FIFA limit – at other clubs.
He has made only one appearance for Diego Simeone’s men as a substitute since, a concern ahead of Ireland’s opening Euro 2024 qualifier against France on Monday, but insists he is enjoying the experience.
The 31-year-old full-back said: “It’s going well for me in Spain. It’s a different experience completely, different culture, different preparation for games. I’m enjoying my time there even though I’m not playing that much.
“The reason I left was… well, initially it was just to go on loan for the rest of the season and then obviously we had the problems with too many loans, so then it was a case of I couldn’t really say no to that type of experience and a manager of his calibre.
“I always like to challenge myself and be uncomfortable at times and it was a similar case there.
“I didn’t have long to think about it, but the time I did have, I just couldn’t say no to that opportunity.
“I am there until the end of the season and I am just using it as a learning experience. I am improving by training with world-class players every day. I am using the six months I have there to try and get better, to try and understand the game better and improve my overall game.”