Scratchwork: Dempsey At Spurs: How A Texan Fits In Across The ‘Hood In London

Dempsey, White Harted.

Quick scribbling on Clint’s move to Spurs before the weekend. Hardly proofread.

A Twitter-refreshing-exhausted US fan base exhaled in relief Friday as the United States chief attacking export, Clint Dempsey, settled in down the street at White Hart Lane.

Dempsey–though to be headed for much of the window to Liverpool–joins a smartly-operated team that is at an inflection point in its trajectory to being a yearly Champion’s League contender.

With former manager Harry Rednapp in charge, the Spurs hustled themselves to a Champion’s League birth two years ago, only to see their run to Europe’s top tournament and standing in the domestic league suffer under the weight of both competitions without the requisite amount of depth.

With Rednapp jettisoned in the offseason and Chelsea Scarlet Letter A, V & B, Andre Villas Boas, the Spurs continue their lofty aspirations, but are currently undergoing some early season struggles to integrate into AVB’s system.

Now the question where is where does a Texan fit into the plan.

The best way to review the Spurs is a team that plays a 4-3-3, but whose compositional components really deploy more in a 4-2-3-1.

A possible Spurs formation.

(Note: In the diagram above, on the backline, Kaboul is out for Spurs currently and Michael Dawson, William Gallas and new recruit Jan Vertonghen will all bear central defense responsibilities).

The reps at the spear of the formation will likely go to former Arsenal and Manchester City man Emanuel Adebayor, a gifted and start target forward who has increasingly improved his distribution game as he enters the later stages of his career. He’s backed by and/or will occasionally play with Jermaine Defoe up top.

Next comes Dempsey’s “line” which consists of an oleo of Clint, Gareth Bale, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Aaron Lennon as a likely rotation of four players across three positions. The player roles here will be backed up by David Bentley (yes, he’s back) on the right. Young attacking part Danny Rose has been loaned out to Sunderland.

Behind the band of attackers are two midfield engines where likely starters will be another Fulham man inbound, Moussa Dembele, inhabiting Luka Modric’s carriage role (though playing it differently) and Sandro playing AVB’s “Busquets” role. Both Scott Parker and Jake Livermore will rotate into these roles and occasionally Dembele will push up into the attacking line.

Best bet on Dempsey? He’ll play centrally in a role similar to the one that Rafael Van Der Vaart inhabited. Occasionally, he’ll play any number of other positions, from up top in a target role (actually the role he excelled most in last year at Fulham) to cutting in from the left wing and running off the right hash as well.

Dempsey should see at least 66% of the snaps on the season. You don’t buy a 29-year-old player in the prime of his career to change his playing frequency and use as a super sub.

The following schematics show other deployments where Deuce may get some playing time.

Dempsey may be deployed occasionally as an in-cutting left midfielder in a role similar to one that Bob Bradley favored him in early in Bradley’s tenure coaching the USMNT. Gareth Bale very sparingly could be used in the reserve LFB role when Assou-Ekotto needs rest.

On the right Deuce may be used off the corner (think USA vs. Ghana, 2nd half, at WC 2010)

Infrequent if at all, Dempsey may deploy up top from time to time in a target role with Defoe running off him….

Other questions the Spurs will need to answer will be:

• How often will they play two up top and how many starting reps they get Defoe?

• What is Scott Parker’s role on the team now. Is he a perennial starter still?

• With Jermaine Jenas not finding a new home where will he go? Similarly, what of the future of Tom Huddlestone?

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Honest Ade on 2012/08/31 at 6:04 PM

    Saha is no longer on Spurs. I think when Parker returns he will be Sandro’s back up. Also, I think Vertonghen would be more likely to give Assou-Ekotto a rest at left back than Bale. Dempsey might be first choice on the right wing over Lennon, with Sigurdsson in the middle. Lots of options and flexibility for sure.


  2. Posted by Ballard on 2012/08/31 at 6:08 PM

    Louis Saha has moved to Sunderland, so he will not be splitting time with Adebayor and Defoe.


  3. Posted by Jon on 2012/08/31 at 6:10 PM

    One note…Saha is gone. To Sunderland, I think.

    I agree on the rest. I think Dempsey will find himself used across multiple positions. Behind Adebayor seems the best use of his goal-scoring abilities, but Siggy will be played in that role as well. He will go wide right, as it has seemed that AVB doesn’t care much for Lennon.


  4. Posted by Nelson on 2012/08/31 at 6:15 PM

    Saha’s contract expired this summer. He’s now with a new club.

    I’m thinking Dempsey will probably float between these positions ingame and on the starting sheet.

    So glad this move happened. Now I can buy a Dempsey jersey and a Tottenham one at the same time.


  5. Posted by Jared on 2012/08/31 at 9:04 PM

    Love this move for Clint. Doesn’t have to uproot family to less hospitable locations and gets a better team than Liverpool (one with actual Champions League chances).


  6. Posted by dude on 2012/08/31 at 9:33 PM

    Hope he’s the CAM, he’s perfect for it. But as long as he’s starting, don’t care.


  7. Posted by SamT on 2012/09/01 at 5:32 AM

    Breaks the continuous run of American representation at Fulham since Marcus Hahnemann first joined the First Division side in June 1999. As an American lucky enough to get to London on business the past ~10 years, I got out to Craven Cottage to see Eddie Lewis pace the sideline and get sub minutes under Jean Tigana. Saw Carlos Bocanegra shut down a young Cristiano Ronaldo as a left back. Saw McBride prove his worth in the top flight.

    And yet, I’m not sure what to make of the team now that there are no Americans on it. Of course I’ll get up to White Hart Lane to see Dempsey if work and good timing allow it. Hard to imagine he won’t do well there. He’s Clint f-ing Dempsey.

    But how to process Fulham now? Feels weird.


    • Posted by Andrew M. on 2012/09/01 at 8:43 AM

      I feel the same way. I know it’s not the same, but Hangeland is an American citizen technically. He was born in Houston. Plus he’s a beast.


  8. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/09/01 at 10:05 AM

    (This republished from a USA-FRA USMNT preview last year)

    Take a look at that chalkboard.

    At a glance, it’s probably one of Jozy Altidore’s games at Alkmaar, right? Wrong. It’s Clinton Drew at Craven Cottage this past Sunday.
    TSG has never been a staunch advocate of Clint Dempsey in the target role for the USMNT for two reasons: 1) He would take an absolute thumping with his back to the basket for a full game and 2) he is so valuable in his creator role for the States.
    Yet, here was Dempsey on Sunday being absolutely brilliant in the target role for Fulham as they almost knocked off Tottenham Hotspur. And this wasn’t–pardon–Michael Parkhurst-statured centerbacks that Dempsey was going up against all afternoon. No, this was 6’3” Younès Kaboul and 6’2” 210lbs or so Ledley King.
    Dempsey was seamless in his reception and distribution and then was so shifty after distributing that he got loose a few times for some quick give-and-go’s. Bobby Zamora–the comp for him being Jozy Altidore on the USMNT–played behind Dempsey and was on the receiving end of Dempsey’s passes.
    Meanwhile, Jozy Altidore has deposited the majority of his eight goals from Alkmaar from a run-on or forward-facing starting point.
    There is little chance that Klinsmann swaps these players as we know on Friday despite some obvious observations that the US attack just may improve as a result. However it begs the question and starts to put milestones on whether Klinsmann can–as he is attempting–develop players during their time with the USMNT and have them consistently excel in those roles if they are doing other things with their clubs.


    • Posted by Nelson on 2012/09/01 at 1:34 PM

      I’d start Dempsey over Defoe or Lennon. I can’t really understand why AVB plays Sandro and Livermore. I’d prefer just Sandro to open up more forward thinking players. Here’s hoping he (AVB) gets it together…


      • Posted by Alex on 2012/09/01 at 4:42 PM

        Well Parker is hurt, but with Dembele working his way into the side he’ll play next to Sandro. I’d love to see Bale on the left, Sig at CAM, and Dempsey tucking in on the right with Adebayor up top. But a lot of player movement by the Spurs to see which is very cool


  9. The beauty of Dempsey’s game – and something that should benefit him greatly in North London – is the fact he’s played essentially every spot among the attacking four for both club and country, excelling and (most importantly!) getting goals along the way. He played multiple matches at each four last season during his 23-goal asplosion, and never slowed down at any. Hard to imagine he won’t be in AVB’s XI damn near every game, no?


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