Spurs signing: Why I’m now finding my feet in new role
Clint Dempsey admits he has been frustrated by his form in his first three months at Tottenham, but he believes Spurs fans will now start to see the best of him.
Dempsey was one of the stars of the Premier League last season, scoring 23 goals in 45 games for Fulham in all competitions, but he has struggled to replicate such success with the Lilywhites, finding the net just twice in 17 games for his new club.
The American has generally been deployed in the No10 position behind the striker under Andre Villas-Boas, and his labouring displays have been highlighted as a reason for Spurs’ lack of creativity in recent weeks.
However, Dempsey caught the eye for all the right reasons in yesterday’s 3-1 home win over West Ham, hitting the bar before setting up Gareth Bale’s goal and then freeing Aaron Lennon for the third.
Speaking after the game, the 29-year-old conceded that he had been much more involved that usual – and he feels his influence on the Tottenham team will continue to grow.
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“I’d have liked to have scored a goal, that would have been better, but it was good,” said Dempsey. “I did a better job of getting on the ball.
“I’ve been frustrated with not really getting on the ball, getting into the game and impacting games. I was able to give a bit more of an angle and drive with the ball a little bit more, and take some more shots and try to create chances for other people.
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“It’s good to play a part in two of the goals and I was a little bit unlucky not to get one myself, hitting the bar.
“It was a game I enjoyed because I’m a player that needs to get on the ball. I’m better getting it on the half-turn and then facing my opponents, rather than always playing with my back to goal. I thought I did a better job of getting on the angles where I could get on the turn and drive forward.”
Dempsey has spent time with Villas-Boas analysing his displays and adjusting to a different role to the one he was used to with Fulham – as well as the new personnel around him.
“We’ve been looking at videos, trying to figure out a way for me to make an impact and help the team,” he said.
“I’m traditionally used to playing in a 4-4-2 system where I’m the guy on the left, but I’m not really an out-and-out winger. I’m someone who comes inside and I’m more like an attacking inside-left player.
“Being more central is good because you’re in a position where you see more of the ball, but it’s about getting on the ball and making the movements that’s going to allow you to do that. I’m starting to do a better job in that respect.
“It’s just about learning how to play with this team. Every team is different and there’s a period of adjustment.
“I didn’t have a pre-season with them, or anybody, so I’m trying to play catch-up a little bit and trying to adjust to this team and the style that they play.
“We play with two out-and-out wingers who hug the line and are very direct and they can take players on and get crosses in. It’s about knowing when to come close to them to try to help with the play, and when to give them space to take their man on and try to get in the box and get on the end of their crosses.
“It’s just adjusting to that and trying to get on the end of things, and hopefully I can start chipping in with more goals.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs