There’s a big interview with Clint Dempsey in today’s New York Times. It looks ahead to his first involvement for the United States under new coach Jurgen Klinsmann against Belgium – and perhaps his Fulham team-mate Moussa Dembele – this evening.
Klinsmann has already had plenty to say about Dempsey in his brief tenure. He caused alarm amongst Fulham fans by suggesting that he omitted Dempsey from his first squad because of uncertainty about the player’s future at Craven Cottage – perhaps sparking the unsubstantiated rumours that Arsenal were interested in signing the Texan towards the end of the summer transfer window. But, now that he is involved with the national team, Dempsey is eager to make an impression on Klinsmann, who he identifies as having a similar spirit to himself.
I’m looking forward to seeing what I can learn from him and applying it to my game so I can better myself. He has that competitive edge. He’s a chill guy, but he’s a winner. He wants to win. He wants to make sure that tomorrow we get a result.
Proving himself to a new manager is nothing new to Dempsey. He’s had to justify his place in the side to five new coaches in as many years at Fulham and is in the process of convincing Martin Jol of his worth having much missed of the Dutchman’s first pre-season at Motspur Park due to his international commitments. It certainly fires the midfielder’s competitive juices:
I feel like I bring that competitive edge to games. I’m a fiery person. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I always give my all when I play.
[It] comes from those long drives to Dallas when I was a young kid, and the fact that I knew my parents were sacrificing so much to take me to those games. I knew I had to go out there and make the most of those games and get something out of them. It’s something that has stayed with me ever since.
I want to show him my game. You have to make the most of where you are, and that’s what I’m going to do.
There’s also an intriguing discussion over Dempsey’s best position, which is particularly relevant to Fulham fans. Since arriving from the New England Revolution, Dempsey has mainly been used as a wide midfielder or as a makeshift striker – most recently filling the void left by an injured Bobby Zamora. It’s clear that his most effective position would be in the ‘hole’ behind the strikers, but Fulham’s shape has been such that he’s had few opportunities to play there. If Jol modifies the formation to suit the likes of Dempsey, Duff, Dembele and Ruiz he might get more of a chance this season:
Ideally, I don’t want to be a target striker. I want to be more of a playmaker. But I will play what’s required of me. Whatever helps the team out, that’s the most important thing. As long as I’m in the attack, I’m happy.