Daily Mail - - Martin Samuel - MATT BAR­LOW re­ports from Pre­to­ria

DOWN on the farm, the USA have been hatch­ing a plan and it re­volves around team-work, mo­ti­va­tion and get­ting the ball in gaps be­hind Eng­land’s at­tack­ing full backs. For Clint Dempsey, it feels a lot like Ful­ham. Not the cows, free-range chick­ens and smell of ma­nure, but the spirit of an un­der-rated team with the quiet con­fi­dence to spring a sur­prise. The Amer­i­cans have been well drilled by man­ager Bob Bradley and en­cour­aged by a suc­cess­ful Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup cam­paign in South Africa, last year, when they beat Spain be­fore sur­ren­der­ing a twogoal lead to Brazil in the fi­nal. ‘We’re used to be­ing the un­der­dog and it suits us,’ said Dempsey (right). ‘That’s the way it will be un­til we change a few peo­ple’s per­cep­tions. ‘We just stick to what we’re good at. We’re very strong de­fen­sively like Ful­ham and try to pick our mo­ments when we go for­ward. Ful­ham beat Manch­ester United by stay­ing com­pact de­fen­sively, with two solid banks of four and choos­ing our mo­ments to get for­ward. ‘We both play 4-4-2, our out­side mid­field play­ers tuck in rather than be­ing wingers and we keep two solid banks of four. We try to frus­trate our op­po­nents and make life dif­fi­cult for them. ‘The USA play in a sim­i­lar style to Ful­ham and we’ll try to do the same thing. We have play­ers who be­lieve they can win ev­ery game.’ To help se­cure this be­lief in his squad, boss Bradley in­vited mo­ti­va­tional speak­ers to ad­dress his play­ers, in­clud­ing Bos­ton Celtics bas­ket­ball leg­end Bill Rus­sell and Dan Jol­lota, a hero of the ‘Black­hawk Down’ bat­tle. ‘It was about com­ing to­gether and putting ego and per­sonal glory aside,’ said Dempsey. ‘No-one thought we’d get to the fi­nal of the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup but we did. Beat­ing Spain was a com­plete game for us. ‘No-one thought Ful­ham would get to the fi­nal of the Europa League but we did. Be­lief is con­ta­gious. You can’t live life in fear. ‘Eng­land have good play­ers — they play for the best clubs in the world and reach Cham­pi­ons League fi­nals — there’s no ex­cuses if they don’t do well. They’re un­der pres­sure to go far.’ Some of Bradley’s team play in the Bar­clays Premier League and know Eng­land’s weak­nesses. ‘Glen John­son is a good player, ef­fec­tive go­ing for­ward,’ said Dempsey. ‘But when he gets for­ward we have a chance to hit them on the counter and give them some­thing to worry about. Both their full backs like to get for­ward and will leave holes.’ For Dempsey, it has al­ready been an in­cred­i­ble sea­son, but the suc­cess at Ful­ham has prompted big­ger clubs to seek to lure man­ager Roy Hodg­son. ‘If the coach wants to be there he will be there,’ said Dempsey. ‘He has to do the best for him and his fam­ily. If he wants to stay, stay. If he wants to go, go.’


Chang­ing at­ti­tudes: Dempsey

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