The recalcitrant Scotsman and I hadn’t done a debate for a long while, so we thought we’d dust the cobwebs off with a back-and-forth about Clint Dempsey. Enjoy.
Eric Imhof: Clint Dempsey’s decision to sit is bad for everybody.
It was both said and printed this week that “one can’t blame Clint Dempsey for wanting to move from Fulham to a bigger club.” I beg to differ. One can indeed blame him; Fulham has nurtured the Texan upstart, giving him both exposure and support throughout his career in the Prem. Few other managers would have given Dempsey the authority to roam about the pitch with impunity as Martin Jol did, and even fewer would have modified the team’s entire strategy around such haphazard scavenging. The symbiosis between Dempsey and Jol allowed the former to break the league scoring record for an American and the latter to boast equal points with Liverpool (a hobbling side, sure, but essentially tying for eighth in the table is nothing to sneeze at for the Cottagers).
And how does Dempsey repay Jol, the rest of the management, his teammates, and the fans for this investment? He sits, while under contract, in the hopes of being picked up by a more illustrious rival. And what has this puerile charade won for the Nacogdoches native? Nothing, yet. The transfer window is drawing to a close and even ‘Pool is now hinting that the ship has sailed (I guess Brendan Rodgers is content with Steven Gerrard, Fabio Borini, and Joe Allen to command his attacks). In the meantime, Fulham looks to be doing quite well without him, which is making his arm-folding look even more fatuous each passing day.
As a fan of Dempsey, I would much enjoy seeing him, you know, play soccer. Perhaps he should’ve waited to be invited to the table, instead of pulling up his own chair and banging his silverware against his plate.
Alan Dymock: Martin Jol has not been perfect, either.
With Dempsey it is only a matter of time. Reaching folkloric status back home; stunning established powers regularly; seeming unfazed by opposition; he is the kind of bolter that some bigger clubs thrive with. He may now know his potential, and he may well be acting selfishly now that he has made this realization, but the incorrect assumption here is that Jol is an innocent bystander in the whole affair.
It is entirely plausible that Jol has made a conscious decision to gift Moussa Dembele game time while Dempsey sulks so as to try and encourage the Texan to stay. Push one out and make the other a star. After all, playing with free reign has seen Dembele deliver fantastic performances in the opening stages of the Premier League.
Dembele, though, has drawn a lot of attention himself and has made a move. With one of the two gone, Jol must rebuild quickly. Even if Dempsey were to stay, he would need something different alongside him. Jol must add quality.
If, then, it is Jol that has dropped the gritty attacker despite his showings, it is Jol who must swallow his pride. The only way for either group to progress is to put their hand up and admit their position. Jol must say (with a trademark growl and jowl-bothering frown), “I need you to play while I try and recruit a few more players.” Dempsey needs to chuck out a few shrugs and admit, “coach: I reeeeeeally need a shop window if I’m to go. You need the funds. I’ll play.” Sometimes a softness works in management.
Eric Imhof: Clint Dempsey is under a current contract to play for Fulham. Need I go on?
Alan Dymock: Screw it. They don’t need him. BERBATOV!