Much has been made in many circles over the past month or so about Man Utd’s lack of talent and depth in their central midfield, and with their “reincarnation” of veteran retiree Paul Scholes, it appears that there are people at the club who agree with that opinion. Despite the January transfer window, it appears that Sir Alex Ferguson’s pledge to not add to his playing staff “unless the right man becomes available” will come to fruition. However, I think there is a player in the English Premier League who is in the middle of a hot streak and would be a valuable addition to United’s squad, and he’s right under Ferguson’s nose. He would come relatively inexpensive and his name is Clint Dempsey.
Over the years that I have been watching Man Utd play, both when I lived in Manchester and beyond, there comes a time when the club makes a move for a player that appears to be “off the wall” to many observers. The player doesn’t have an elite pedigree but has earned his stripes usually at both top League level and at international level. He’s usually someone who is highly thought of by his home club, has a great work ethic, and is someone who would relish the chance to play for such a historic team that plays at Old Trafford. I remember back in the 70′s when United were not the dominant team that they are now. Manager Tommy Docherty was looking for a goal scoring striker who could add to his team that was trying to repair the damage done by a series of unsuccessful managers since Sir Matt Busby retired from managing in 1971. Lou Macari was playing at Celtic at the time and had a goal scoring rate of almost a goal every two games, no mean feat in Scotland. He was transferred to Old Trafford in 1973 and became a valuable striker/midfielder who contributed in many different ways to United’s climb back to the top. To me, Clint Dempsey is a player in very much the same vein.
Dempsey grew up in Texas in a trailer home and learnt to play the game on the streets of Nacogdoches and was soon drafted by the Dallas Texans, a local elite youth soccer club. After being drafted by the New England Revolution in the MLS Superdraft in 2004, he was transferred to Fulham in 2007 for the then record $4m fee for a MLS player. He started off slowly in the English Premier League but has since blossomed into a role which allows him to play up front or just behind the front two strikers, and puts him into a group of top class performers. He is an accomplished international player for the USA with 82 caps and is renowned for his toughness, an invaluable commodity when playing in England. He has a knack for scoring goals which this year, has caused him to be noticed by many clubs across Europe. He has already scored two hat tricks this season and has bagged a total of 12 goals from 29 games.
I suggested his possible value to Man Utd back in early January when he scored his first hat trick against Charlton in the FA Cup, but was subsequently lambasted to death on Twitter for making such outrageous recommendations. His hat trick today against Newcastle, one of the meanest defenses in the Premier League just convinced me he would be a great signing for Sir Alex Ferguson. He has the correct temperament; he scores goals wherever he plays and is a hard worker. He is versatile and would look at a move to Old Trafford as a dream and would buy into into it with all his energy. He has creativity and vision and is in his prime at 28 years old. He also comes cheap, at around $7-8mil I would guess, which would have to light up the eyes of the bean counters in the Glazer family. He has another quality which makes him valuable and that is he performs in the big games. A huge plus.
An added incentive for Fulham to sell is that Dempsey is out of contract at the end of next season. For a 28 year old, they might want to cash in on his value now rather than risk not signing him again and getting nothing for such a capable player.
I’m sure he’s on someone’s radar at the moment and as an addition to United’s depth in the middle, I think he’d be a great pick-up so c’mon, Alex, let’s pull the trigger on this guy.