Most Tottenham Hotspur supporters have been frustrated by Clint Dempsey’s performances for the Lilywhites this season. On the popular Spurs Show podcast this week, Tottenham experts Barry Castagnola, Theo Delaney and Paul Hawksbee likened Dempsey to a bad impression of Jermain Defoe and said that he looks a great player in a lesser team (i.e. Fulham) where he was a big fish in a small pond.
To make matters worse, there always seems to be confusion among Tottenham supporters when Dempsey’s name is brought up. Is he an attacking midfielder or striker? As a striker, he hasn’t been scoring the goals on a consistent basis. And as an attacking midfielder, he faces stiff competition from several players who play in the same position as Dempsey. Yet Dempsey isn’t the type of creative attacking midfielder that Tottenham needs or wants.
A lot of people speculated that when Clint Dempsey made his summer move to Tottenham Hotspur that he would excel at Spurs the way he did at Fulham. I was one of those people. I had high hopes for Dempsey as I wanted to see an American be a vital player at a club that was challenging to cement their place among the elite.
Dempsey had a great career at Fulham that peaked in his last year, scoring 23 goals and recording assists. He was the focal point of the Fulham attack and was a threat to score at any moment when on the attack, but when he moved to Spurs it seemed his game didn’t. Dempsey is an unconventional type of player, an attacking midfielder that is capable of moving up and playing striker. In both spots though he is not one to create his own chances, as most of his goals came from clean ups or goals set up for him. This season at Spurs it seems as though he has lost that scoring touch, only scoring 8 goals and 5 assists.
Dempsey has look uninspired this season at Tottenham, as it looks as though he is out of his element. Dempsey has been supplanted by the likes of Lewis Holtby, and Gylfi Sigurdsson in his favored attacking midfielder position. Dempsey has failed to adapt his style of play to Andre Villas-Boas system, and that is hurting him. The problem I see with Dempsey is that he wants to win, but he wants to do it his way. He doesn’t seem to want to play the role that he needs to, so that he gets himself on the team sheet more often. This is somewhat understandable. A player who was the first choice at his previous club has been asked to be a supporting player and not the star anymore. To be frank, Dempsey needs to put aside his stubbornness and selfishness and do what is best for his team and for his playing time.
A Tottenham fan I spoke with about Dempsey feels as though the club purchased the American because he “moves” merchandise. Dempsey jersey’s are a big seller, especially here in the US as Dempsey is one of American soccer fan’s favorite players. The prospect of Bale and Dempsey on one team seemed like it would be a deadly combo on the field as well as in the media, but so far it has been the case of one player rising above expectation and reaching new heights and one player fading into the background.
The only thing keeping Dempsey from being a factor at Spurs is the man himself. If he can put aside the ego of being the American star and become a supporting player at his club, then he will earn himself the playing time he deserves. For now though, it seems Dempsey will be confined to the bench as AVB has found other midfield options he prefers over Dempsey. This is what Clint wanted, though, to play at a club that challenges for Champions League football, but I don’t think he wanted to sit idly by as his team put themselves in contention for it while he saw limited playing time.