Dempsey threat impossible to ignore

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Clint Dempsey of Fulham scores his side's second goal during the UEFA Europa League Play-Off round qualifying first leg match between Fulham and FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk at Craven Cottage on August 18, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

We've reached an age in football where coverage is so openly available and opinions are so easily expressed that we all seem to think of ourselves as the next Alex Ferguson or Brian Clough. We all watch the games intently, we can all pick out individual performances of fascinating prosperity and we all think we know which formation will be the undoing of Pep Guardiola's fashionable Barcelona side.

The truth remains, however, that those within the game are there for a reason and those on the outside looking in, are excluded for much the same justification. 

It won't stop the masses having a point of view, though, and its when a situation becomes so palpably clear to see that people finally begin to take notice.

Perhaps Clint Dempsey's effect on Fulham's goalscoring record isn't quite of the utmost importance on the grand scheme of things, but I doubt I am the first person to see the real benefit that this man of such humbling demeanour and personality has on the team when he leads the line.

Unquestionably, he has been bred a midfielder. The American is a player of undeniable class when on the ball - accomplished, practical and pinpoint when required. His passing is decent and his movement diplomatic. The skills he possesses do lead themselves to a midfield role of great productivity.

Yet, we've all seen first hand what he can do when he is given the free reign of Fulham's front line. If last season's return of nine goals in all competitions isn't quite enough to prove a positional change should perhaps be on the forefront of Martin Jol's mind, than maybe the effect Dempsey had on Thursday evening's defeat of Dnipro is.

In opening his campaign's account, and doubling it in one astutely-timed fell swoop, the Texan born midfielder-come-striker showed not only his palpable aerial prowess, but his clinical timing, ruthless placement and destructive movement.

Of course, he's a midfielder by trade. He has graced Fulham for four years now - by a small distance the longest serving player in and around the first team currently - and he hasn't done so being played out of position. He provides us with an extra dimension when deployed on the wings and causes no-end of problems when on top form.

But, withholding a player whom is being consistently courted by the likes of AC Milan and other clubs of similar European pedigree from his most fanciful role is almost as self-defeatist as employing Lawrie Sanchez. (Too far?)

Dempsey's return to a forward role has also coincided with what is now becoming an extensive search for a new striker to play second fiddle to the ageing Johnson-Zamora partnership. Mounir El-Hamadaoui, Bryan Ruiz and Carlton Cole have all been linked over recent days, but the obvious solution, as is quite commonly the case, comes from inside the club already.

With the midfield boasting ever increasing numbers - Etuhu, Kasami, Gecov, Briggs, Davies, Bjorn Helge Riise all regularly missing out - there would be no harm in rotating Dempsey between his fruitful striker role and his natural midfield position whenever such changes are necessary. That would leave a forward line of considerable quality, with Zamora, Johnson, Dembele and Dempsey all available and all prepared to battle.

It's not to say, of course, that Jol should not be on the lookout for a new striker. Two injuries down and where would we be?

But, the kind of money being mentioned on the relatively unproven Ruiz - somewhere in the region of £13 million to truly tempt him away - is unmerited.

Spend money, by all means Jol, but spend what little is left, with a spoonful of wisdom and a pinch of conservation.  

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