Matt Doherty would like to stay at Wolves for life.
The Ireland international is the club’s longest-serving player and has emerged as a key performer under head coach Nuno Espirito Santo. Last season he scored eight times and added eight assists in all competitions from right wing back, when he was an ever present.
Doherty, now 27, has made 252 appearances for Wolves in three divisions since his £70,000 move from Bohemians in 2010 to become one of the club’s biggest bargain signings of modern times. He signed a new four-year deal worth a reported £50,000-a-week in February to keep him at Molineux until 2023 and will be due a testimonial next year to mark a decade’s service.
The wing back admits he didn’t expect to have played so many games in gold and black when he signed for the club under Mick McCarthy nine years ago. But having established himself so well, he is happy to stay for the rest of his career.
“I probably didn’t believe I’d do that,” said the Dubliner. “I have a lot of time left so who knows what the future holds? I could be here for my whole career, you never know. That would be nice.”
Time waits for no man though and Wolves have been linked with £10m-rated Benfica right back Andre Almeida earlier in the close season, and with Jonny Castro Otto able to switch flanks, Doherty is ready for competition for his place.
“Of course. You always need good competition to compete in all of the competitions,” he acknowledged. “You need to have a bigger squad and competition for places to not make people complacent and not make people comfortable.”
Doherty believes there is a great team spirit and harmony in the squad. And, because Nuno insists on a small group of players, he believes everyone remains involved and close to first-team selection, which is only good for morale and keeping everyone together.
“Yes, definitely, that’s important,” he said. “Recruitment is looked at and we have people with no egos who just want to get their head down and play football.
“You couldn’t look at anyone in the squad and say they’re not involved at all. Everybody’s close, everybody’s friends, so recruitment has been very good.”
Wolves embark on their first European campaign for 39 years next month when they meet the winners of Northern Ireland outfit Crusaders and B36 Torshavn from the Faroe Islands in the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
Doherty insists Wolves want to do well in Europe and are not concerned about the extra games compromising their efforts in the Premier League.
“We’re not thinking we don’t want it because of the amount of games,” he said. “We feel we’re good enough, so it won’t be a case of us thinking about squad size or it’s going to be difficult.
“We’re going to embrace it, just like we have done ever since the manager came in.”
Apart from a slight tweak in the formation from 3-4-3 to 3-5-2 last December, Wolves have continued to play in a similar way ever since Nuno was appointed in May 2018. As they prepare to embark on Nuno’s third season in charge, Doherty believes the way Wolves train and play suits them, and sees no reason to change.
“Yes. As a team we just seem to click, whatever we do,” he added. “The training we do, the preparation we do – a lot of credit has to go to the management and the staff. But whatever the reason is, we just seem to know each other’s games – everyone knows exactly what the other wants to do. It just works for us.
“It could be different if we suddenly change to a different formation, but the way we play right now, it suits us down to a tee.”