Down in the DempsClint Dempsey: He’s still Clint...average Clint
by Scott Nicholls | Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Oh, Clint Dempsey. I’ve always thought he was a decent enough player, but I’m sorry – some of the press he’s received out here in the United States over the last year has been INSANE.
I remember watching him at Stamford Bridge, decent pace, decent crossing, decent passing, decent shot ... and that is really about it, I thought. Then during the past two seasons something happened, something that is extremely basic and extremely simple, and explains exactly the reason that Dempsey has given the illusion that he is a better player all of a sudden. He took more shots.
In 2009-10 Dempsey scored 7 goals, he scored them on 97 shots.
In 2010-11 Dempsey increased his goal tally to 12, he scored these on...106 shots.
Then we get to last season. In 2011-12 Dempsey scored a whopping 17 goals...on 139 shots. Are we starting to see a pattern here?
In the interest of fairness, however, there is a certain trend within Dempsey’s seemingly ordinary statistics. Percentage-wise, for the years shown above, he had 5 more goals in each successive year. Additionally, his goals to shot ratio increased, which means you could certainly assert that perhaps he is taking better shots (.072 in 09-10, .113 in 10-11, and .122 in 11-12).
On top of that, in 10-11 he took 8.5% more shots, but increased his goal total by 58% over the previous year. When deployed mostly as a striker he scored 41% more goals but only increased his shooting by 24%. All good news, you might say, and not even I can argue that Dempsey has vastly improved as a footballer over this time period. But for giggles, let’s compare his goals to shots ratio with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Frank Lampard.
Wayne Rooney over the same three seasons has a shots to goals ratio of: .159 (09-10), .121 (10-11), and .191 (11-12)
Robin Van Persie: .136 (09-10), .202 (10-11), and .185 (11-12)
Lastly, Frank Lampard – a central midfielder: .185 (09-10), .161 (10-11), and .200 (11-12)
Those players are three players considered as some of the best in the world at their respective positions – all positions Dempsey has played in for Fulham – and all are just that extra bit better. But that is the difference between being a world-class player and just a pretty good one.
Yes, I know, I know – I hear the cries: “Dempsey is the first ever American to score a hat trick in the Premier League.” Yes, he is. So what? An English player (as far as I’m aware) has never scored a hat trick in MLS, and I don’t care if they do either! Dempsey is a striker; he is employed to score goals.
The other thing is that whilst Dempsey has improved – and in turn has improved Fulham – Fulham aren’t very good at scoring goals. Fulham were severely lacking in that killer instinct in front of goal last season, their next top scorer was Pavel Pogrebnyak with 6 goals in 12 games. Pogrebnyak signed on deadline day (Jan. 31) and scored 5 in his first 3 games before an ankle injury thwarted his progress having to return at the end of April, with a handful of games remaining. After Pogrebnyak you have to delve even further in to the depths, next up is Andrew Johnson. Johnson scored 3 goals for Fulham last term in the Premier League. Who on Earth is scoring for Fulham!?!
Nobody. Nobody else is scoring any goals for Fulham. It’s not hard to look like you’re the best player on the planet when you’re the only guy scoring for your team. Chelsea found that out the hard way with Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Now Dempsey says he wants Champions League football. Well, if Clint Dempsey were good enough to play for a top four side he would be on one. Top four sides want top four players, they have the money for top four players, so they go out and buy even borderline top four players. But none of the sides competing for a top four EPL finish has appeared to make a real offer on Dempsey. This isn’t because he’s American – they care about results not nationality. This is because, perhaps, Dempsey just isn’t a top four player.
Arsenal have spent money and brought in Olivier Giroud, Lucas Podolski and Santi Cazorla too. Chelsea (Champions of Europe, didn’t finish in top 4 last term – believe me that will not happen this season) has spent a pretty penny on Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin and Kevin DeBruyne. All of them play Dempsey’s positions; all of them were bought ahead of him. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Manchester United have even opted to stay with Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez as their “Dempseys” shall we say.
Liverpool is probably about the right level of club for Dempsey at the moment. I don’t see Liverpool being a contender in the next few seasons, not with the likes of Henderson, Carroll, Spearing and Shelvey on the books. Potentially add Joe Allen to the well over priced British contingent at Liverpool and their squad is looking pretty dire. Liverpool will hover from between fifth to eighth the next few years, just like they have the last few years, and that seems to be where Clint Dempsey is destined to stay.
There’s nothing wrong with being an average player in the best football league in the world, America. So whilst you should be celebrating his achievements, let’s not get too carried away now shall we?