As Fulham prepare for a trip to Old Trafford this weekend, the Cottagers should be on a high following their superb performance in the 5-0 destruction of Norwich last weekend. However, the Clint Dempsey saga rumbles on and with no solution in sight, the issue threatens to compromise what could be a very promising season.
Dempsey’s decision to effectively go on strike in order to push through a move to Liverpool, though disrespectful, would ordinarily make the next move for manager Martin Jol relatively simple – a deal would be done and Dempsey’s negative influence would be removed from Craven Cottage. The problem is that ever since the situation of a few weeks back where Liverpool’s owners announced the signing of the Texan before even a bid had been made according to Jol, who described the situation as ‘embarrassing’, there has been no further discussions between the two clubs regarding Dempsey.
Indeed, Joe Allen has since been signed to arguably fulfill a role taken up by Dempsey at Anfield, while other potential interested clubs have either similarly made other midfield signings (Arsenal) or would represent a step down from Fulham (West Ham). With the transfer window closing, Fulham find themselves in limbo as their star player refuses to play for the club until he gets his move with no bids for him forthcoming.
Aside from the loss of his goals and inspirational performances (though the Norwich victory appeared to indicate otherwise), the Dempsey situation seems to have destabilised the club somewhat at one its core relationships – between that of the manager and the fans.
The fans have made their feelings clear on their previous idol’s actions with a number of derogatory chants aimed at him from the stands at Craven Cottage during the Norwich game. Despite his obvious frustration on the Dempsey issue, Jol incurred the wrath of the fans by cricitising them for their chants, telling The Daily Mail “I don’t want to hear the fans chanting against him”. In the embryonic stages of the new season, the last thing the club needs on top of everything is a rift between manager and supporters.
Additionally, what impact does the Dempsey saga have on Fulham’s transfer business? With the shutting of the window inching ever closer, Jol finds himself in the unenviable situation of being unable to purchase replacements for Dempsey while the American remains at the club.
A move for Adam Johnson to replace Dempsey has been mooted but the Cottagers risk losing out while the latter remains at the club. Further moves to strengthen a rather thin-looking squad in Brazilian defender Douglas and Senegalese Olympics star Moussa Konate could also be dependent on Dempsey’s departure.
Overall, despite Fulham’s fantastic start in week one, the club hardly finds itself in the best shape going to Old Trafford, where not only do they have a poor recent record but where they face a Manchester United side and Robin Van Persie in particular, smarting from their opening defeat to Everton.
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