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Full strength Spurs keep Dempsey on bench

Jan 12, 2013, 7:50 AM EDT

Tottenham Hotspur's Dempsey scores a goal against Panathinaikos during their Europa League soccer match in London Reuters

At some point, this is no longer news, but since a groin injury obscured things between Clint Dempsey’s last league start (all the way back on December 16) and now, it’s been a bit unclear where the U.S. international falls in Tottenham’s pecking order. Even coming off the bench, there’s still some debate as to where “Deuce” sits on the depth chart, but with Spurs’ return to full strength pushing Dempsey out of André Villas-Boas’s starting XI for today’s match at Queens Park Rangers, there’s little doubt Tottenham’s switch to a 4-4-2 formation has landed the American on the bench.

On New Year’s Day (Spurs’ last league game), Gareth Bale’s suspension opened a spot in Tottenham’s starting lineup, though Dempsey wasn’t given the nod. Instead, Icelander Gylfi Sigurdsson started. That could have been due to Dempsey’s recovery from a groin injury (though he had featured against Sunderland the previous game). It could have also been a reward to Sigurdsson who (like Dempsey) has recovered from a slow start to the season.

At Loftus Road, Villas-Boas has Bale back. More notably, he also has Emmanuel Adebayor, who committed then uncommitted to Togo for this month’s Africa Cup of Nations (latest reports have him going after today’s game). Along with forward Jermain Defoe and winger Aaron Lennon, Villas-Boas has his full complement of attackers available. Thus, both Dempsey and Sigurdsson are on the bench.

We’ve covered this ground before. Just because Dempsey isn’t in the starting XI doesn’t mean he’s not going to get significant time. Spurs are still alive in the FA Cup, and with a former Europa League winner managing the team, you can be certain Tottenham will take their European commitments seriously. They have a home-and-home with Olympique Lyonnais next month.

With two goals off the bench over the last month, Dempsey’s still capable of contributing, but having started in 12 of his 16 league appearances before today’s game, Deuce will have to continue adjusting to a new role. Villas-Boas’s continued use of a 4-4-2 means Dempsey’s most likely role is one of super sub.

  1. wfjackson3 - Jan 12, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Whats with all of the parentheses? That is the crutch of bad writing. Come on guys, you can do better than that.

    • Richard Farley - Jan 12, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Eh, I think they’re fine, and I definitely disagree on them being the crutch of bad writing. That’s too harsh. I tend to find unjustified use of cliche more problematic.

      Time and place for everything.

    • Dan Haug - Jan 12, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      Chill dude. In a piece like this, parentheticals are simple and effective in adding more information with a minimal number of words. Yeah… if this were a novel, or a long-form piece of journalism that the author had a lot of time and space to craft, you’d expect a more comprehensively well-organized piece with fewer parentheticals. However, this is a blog, designed to communicate the most content in the shortest amount of time, meaning that: a) authors are slapping stuff together to get it to us ASAP, and b) they are trying to cram a lot of information into fewer words.

      As someone who regularly points out typos to these guys, I think that complaints about form (unless they obscure meaning) are not helpful.

      • wfjackson3 - Jan 12, 2013 at 5:08 PM

        Parentheses do not allow you to add more information with fewer words. What it does is allow you to lazily tack on additional information without consideration for how the reader will process or categorize the information you are sharing.

        Richard, I agree that unjustified use of cliche is way more problematic and much more irritating. However, consider this the humble opinion of one reader who did a little freelance news writing for a tech and startup news site. I think the writing quality has slipped a little bit since I first fell in love with this place during the summer and fall. Its a turn off and I find myself reading articles on other sites more frequently as a result. If I do happen to read something here these days, I almost always skip the first paragraph as it almost never contains useful information.

        Again, just one opinion and I could be completely wrong. But it’s my opinion and it impacts me as a reader.

      • Richard Farley - Jan 12, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        What it does is allow you to lazily tack on additional information without consideration for how the reader will process or categorize the information you are sharing.

        Wow. This is … not an accurate description of parenthesis. Thanks for sharing your views. I appreciate it, but this view on parenthesis is practically draconian. In fact, the use of parenthesis usually provides the exact opposite effect, allowing you (or more broadly, any reader) to include the exact same offsets you would hear in casual language without having to alter the base sentence.

        It is actually the exact opposite of lazy or inconsiderate. It would be lazier to omit the parenthetical entirely. However, it gets included for the sake of completeness as a consideration to the reader. It assumes the reader’s capable of comprehended above a very basic reading level.

        If you writing experience is strictly in “news” or technical writing, I understand why you’ve come to this view. I would just ask you to be a little more open-minded. Your had line stance on parenthesis is a perfectly justifiable personal preference, but as a hard line with which you distinction good and bad writing, it’s intolerant and untenable.

        It’s just a stylistic preference. Calling somebody’s writing bad based on it is (I would offer) rude.

        Again, thanks for your feedback, and I really appreciate all the comments you give us. Your feedback is always appreciated.

        PS, and added later, I do agree that this post had more parenthetical that I would have liked, but a proportional comments would have been ‘Whoa, lots of parenthetical, Rich,” and we would have probably had a laugh. “Oops! Yeah, you might be,” would have probably would have been my response. Ultimately, though, each parenthetical is justifiable, even if the collection is sub-optimal.

  2. theasoccerist - Jan 12, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Why bench your best players? To Tottenham do enough number-gazing to formulate their teams or is this personal?

  3. wfjackson3 - Jan 12, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Richard, I agree with you that it is a stylistic choice, though I haven’t seen it used when trying to make the tone more conversational for the average english speaker. I am familiar with the use of parentheses to make a point as an aside. I would argue that you guys mostly do not use it in this way, instead forcing it in for related secondary points that would be better described by commas. However, I think you would agree that the average english speaker isn’t typically capable of linking complex or loosely related elements together without more abrupt breaks. This is where my opinion on the matter originates.

    That said, my point remains. In the past, I have been able to read the blog and it didn’t require much active thought to consume the content. More recently, I am having to force myself to concentrate more to follow the content because of the lack of linking words, the excessive use of abrupt breaks, and the aforementioned fluff.

    This is probably getting long in the tooth, so I will leave it there. Thanks for engaging me. I am sure getting this kind of critique from a random internet poster is not your idea of fun, and I appreciate the discussion.

    • schmutzdeck - Jan 13, 2013 at 1:42 PM


      Much of the debate in American soccer about style versus substance. Apparently that is now leaking over to posts on blogs. I remember when I used to get slammed for pointing out spelling mistakes.

      At any rate, Spurs are big club and subscribe to the rotation policy. Basically, you can play your best eleven until they drop and then it is next man up or you can try to strategically rotate them depending on the circumstances.

      Very few, if any teams, start the same eleven every game.

      The best managers are the ones who make the best decisions about who to play and when over the course of a very long and draining season.

      The best analogy for a casual American soccer fan is the job a MLB manager has to do over the course of the season.

      If he maintains his form, Dempsey is clearly someone who will play a fair amount. He will not get the same amount of time he got at Fulham because he is no longer the best player at the club.

      • theasoccerist - Jan 15, 2013 at 8:01 AM

        Point taken – I was watching Moneyball last night (well, fell asleep half way through) but was awake long enough to see how Art Howe was portrayed. Basically, he was depicted as deadweight on the team – a guy who handed in the lineup card that management put together for him.

        This raised a number of questions for me about how you put together a team across different sports and how you assess which players will or will not fit into your system (a timely point for MLS teams looking to the draft on Thursday).

        My comment was more about how do you assess who the best players are for your team/lineup. In baseball, you probably will see your batting average go up if you have a few big hitters behind you – does that make you a better player or just fortunate to be on a good team? Its similar to comparing GPAs between good and bad colleges – US News lumps them all together but presumably they should be weighted differently. Similarly, a 300 hitter on a good team may not play as well on a bad team.

        Getting back to soccer – if a player is surrounded by a stronger supporting cast he will get more assists, more opportunities on goal etc. Does that make his Castrol/Opta/EA or other mathematical rating go up? Is there a way to isolate and quantify the qualities of an individual player?

        In short, we do not yet have good answers to these questions – just look at how MLS teams have fared in the previous draft picks – but I think this is an interesting and important conversation to have.

  4. futbolhistorian - Jan 13, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Put me in the “in favor of” the parentheses category. I think for the style of writing used in this blog, the use of parentheses is actually helpful and informative. This blog is not about technical writing, nor is it a formal news site. Parentheses away!

  5. schmutzdeck - Jan 16, 2013 at 11:38 PM


    Ironically, Billy Beane is a big soccer nut. Maybe someday his relationship with the Liverpool owners will see his particular methods translated to big time soccer.

    Until then I disagree that “we do not yet have good answers to these questions”. The people at places like Barca, Bayern, and Man. U. would not have had the kind of long term sustained excellence without such knowledge.

    They may not have reduced it down to one stat freak like they do in the movie (it is a movie after all) but those places have an organization in place that works for them.

    Soccer is a far more dynamic sport than the major American sports and so it resists the kind of statistical breakdown that can be more easily applied to baseball which is a series of static one on one interactions. Obviously so is soccer but in a far more dynamic fashion because of the comparative lack of breaks in the action from start to finish.

    Beane’s basic concepts can still be applied but it may take a while to translate from a sport that has always been statistics heavy to one that traditionally has been light on them.


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