Under the guidance of his fifth manager at Craven Cottage, Clint Dempsey is firmly navigating his way into Fulham folklore, but that very statement surely displays as much disbelief as it does loyalty, with the unfathomable realisation that the American is seldom the subject of transfer speculation.
When Martin Jol took charge at Fulham in the June of this year, relatively speaking, he inherited a skeleton squad that would need a handful of inspirational players to continue as the nucleus. Captain Danny Murphy, Brede Hangeland and Mark Schwarzer founded that very group, but while most of that trio have been linked with moves away, Dempsey’s name rarely appears in the tabloids’ sometimes haphazard transfer-rumours page.
It is as much a mystery to witness Fulham jostling for mere bottom-half supremacy, as although under pressure at times in their recent Liverpool victory, they fashioned fluid and concise football; the product of an industrial midfield. This season Jol and his side are attempting to wrestle the very same beast that Tony Pulis is with his Stoke City side, in trying to marry a domestic campaign with the gruelling demands of the Europa League. Therefore, keeping key players fresh is pivotal, so Jol must use the likes of Dempsey both intelligently and sparingly.
The American’s late strike not only gave his side three vital points against the Merseysiders, but it also elevated him in to leading the club’s scoring charts, with four goals. Of course it is subjective, but there are surely few Premier League sides that Dempsey could not provide some creative impetus. He is blessed with great positional sense that unrestrictedly manoeuvres him between defence and midfield, areas that are hard to stifle unless opposition teams man-mark. His consistency has shone through since his arrival back in 2006 – as the then most expensive US export to arrive in England’s top flight at £2m – by scoring 37 goals in 161 games, a tally to be admired for an attacking midfielder. The recent statement from American goalkeeper Brad Friedel, calling Dempsey “the US. team’s best outfield player,’ only bolsters the latter’s current standing.
Jol was undoubtly hired at Fulham to paint on a big canvas. Fundamentally he will be allowed to build a side with his own blueprint – especially after the uncertain period bred from the Mark Hughes debacle. With the likes of Bryan Ruiz and Moussa Demb