Clint Dempsey’s remarkable Fulham season is worthy of greater accolades
It would be churlish to suggest that anyone is more deserving than Robin van Persie for Player of the Year accolades after a remarkable individual season, but Clint Dempsey’s Fulham campaign has been every bit as impressive in a mid-table team.
Not only has he scored 25 goals in 48 appearances for club and country, he has largely done so while operating from midfield. If you include USA’s Gold Cup campaign, the total rises to 28 in 55 – essentially a goal every other game.
Now in his fifth year at Craven Cottage, his marathon 2011/12 season began 11 months ago and has included regular trips to the United States, plus the Ukraine, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, France and Slovenia due to Fulham’s Europa League jaunts and international duty.
Frequently positioned on the left flank, although equally adept played centrally as a deep-lying forward or outright frontman, Dempsey’s goal scoring exploits have included hat-tricks against both Charlton in the FA Cup and Newcastle in a 5-2 romp. He recorded the winner against Liverpool in the Premier League as well as important equalisers in both league games against Chelsea.
Integral for club and country, national coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who utilises Dempsey in a free role, recently lauded his “hunger” and “drive” in an interview with FIFA.com.
Team mate John Arne Riise has also been vocal in his praise for the Texan, revealing to Sky Sports: "He's played centre midfield, winger, striker, in behind the striker so he's very important. No matter what happens in a game we can always rely on him."
Dempsey celebrated his 29th birthday last month and couldn’t have timed his most productive season to date any better. With a year remaining on his current deal, Fulham are keen to tie him down to an improved, long-term deal – but his fine form will result in interest from an array of top European sides. Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United have all been linked with a £10m move.
Martin Jol is keen to retain Dempsey, explaining to Sky Sports: "I can't foresee the future. We want to keep him and hopefully he wants to stay. We have offered him a very good contract," said Jol. "He knows he is very appreciated at our club, so hopefully he will stay.”
Fulham currently lie in ninth position in the Premier League, two points off Everton in seventh with Liverpool in eighth, only ahead of the Cottagers on goal difference. With four games remaining, Fulham’s next two games are against their Merseyside rivals, as they harbour real hopes of improving on last season’s 8th placed finish.
One of the quirk’s of the Professional Footballers’ Association awards is that votes are cast with so much of the season still remaining. The Football Writers’ Association award nominees are submitted later in the campaign and tend to better reflect the season in its entirety. Omitted from the PFA shortlist, Dempsey came fourth in the FWA voting. It is the least he deserves for a remarkable campaign where he has been every bit as impressive as his more decorated peers.
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