Poor old Clint, he has managed to get himself into a terrible pickle.

His relationship with Fulham Football Club, has hit a rocky patch. To quote his namesake, a certain Mr Eastwood:  

"There's only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is, I'll get married again." 

Background:

The 29 year-old Texan had an incredible 2011-2012 season. He netted 23 goals in 46 games for Fulham. He is one of the key players and has been a faithful servant. His contribution has helped the club to punch well above its weight, in the top division of English football. His combative style, work ethic and skill have made him an attacking force to be reckoned with. 

Not bad, for a player who only converted to the role of striker in 2007!

He then stated that he wanted to move to a team able to offer him Champions League football.

Since making that statement, no team has made a bid for Clint. He did not train with the club in the pre-season, nor play in the curtain raiser, a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City. The fans are not happy with him and even sang him a song during the game. It was not a lullaby!

Rumours circulated, that he had refused to play, followed by a feeding frenzy in the media 

The Protagonists:

Martin Jol - The Fulham manager, who would not look out of place on the set of the Sopranos, is not at all happy. His leading scorer is not playing, nor is he able to purchase a replacement until the situation has been resolved.

Mohammed Al Fayed - The Fulham owner and Egyptian businessman, with a taste for the bizarre and described by Jol as strong. He erected a statue of Michael Jackson outside the ground, based on the singer once visiting the ground.

He is not keen on letting Dempsey leave the club without fair recompense, estimated to be in the region of £10 million.

Brendan Rogers - The manager of Liverpool, fuelled speculation that he was keen to bring Dempsey to Anfield.

What can Dempsey expect from his transfer?

While he enjoyed a fantastic season, his scoring statistics suggest that he may not be the most attractive proposition to the top clubs.

Let's compare the similarities of Dempsey's situation with that of Robin Van Persie:

 Both players:

  • are 29 years old.
  • were in the final year of their contracts.
  • are talented.
  • desired a big money move.
  • will probably not have another high profile move.
  • declared publicly that they wanted to leave their respective clubs.

That is where the similarities end.

Van Persie is a more accomplished player than Dempsey. Over the last three years, he netted 67 goals in the Premiership, compared to Dempsey's 36.

Neither Manchester City nor United, were going to tear down the motorway to wrestle Clint away from Fulham, based on one good year. They have the cash to shop at more exclusive outlets. Dempsey would not represent the marquee signing, demanded by their fans.

Manchester United were prepared to offer one 29-year-old, a four-year contract. Given that the average age of a Premiership player is 25, Van Persie is the exception rather than the rule.

Dempsey's options are more limited. Realistically, Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle and Liverpool may be interested but his age counts against him. These clubs will feel less inclined and less financially able, to take a punt on a player approaching his thirties.

Van Persie was robust in his verdict on Arsenal. However, after his statement, he went about training as usual, with a smile on his face, waiting for the suitors to come.

Dempsey, on the other hand, lost patience and made some errors of judgement. I stop short of accusing him of arrogance, as my sense is that he genuinely feels let down.

Where did it go wrong?

This is where we depart from fact and delve into the backstreets of idle speculation.

There had been an enquiry from Brendon Rogers but not an offer to back it up.

Clearly Dempsey believed that he was Liverpool bound. Understandable, given that a statement to that effect, appeared on a website, owned by Liverpool's proprietors. Then the message mysteriously vanished. Were there crossed wires inside the corridors of Anfield, or a change of heart?

Jol has retracted his accusation that Dempsey refused to play. He described the accusation as '..a bit harsh,' in a press conference.

That's as close to holding out an olive branch, as the gravelly-voiced Dutchman is likely to come. He may also be concerned that he has played a role in turning the fans against a player, who may yet figure in the team. He will also be aware that Dempsey's value may be depreciating, as this fiasco continues.

Where for Clint now?

While it is understandable that Dempsey was keen to avoid injury and therefore duck out of pre-season training, he made a fundamental mistake: a deal is not a deal until it is done.

The likely truth is that he was not keen on playing and that Fulham agreed, believing that an offer was imminent. The club became impatient when no offer surfaced, quite rightly as they pay the wages.

While Liverpool are fully entitled to make an enquiry without buying, they appear to have blown hot and cold and in so doing, helped to sour Dempsey's relationship with Fulham.

The story of Dempsey's acquisition appearing on one of their web pages, was totally unacceptable. It may however just be a case of bungling.

We may never know whether Liverpool have played fairly or whether Al Fayed is behaving sensibly in dealing with the transfer. It is however clear that Dempsey should have played on and in not doing so, became a less sympathetic figure.

All is however not lost and Clint does seem to have learned something from this whole sorry saga.  He has remained silent in recent times, issuing only the statement: "There are two sides to the story," ..."The truth will come out soon." I will avoid any reference to the X-Files.

It is more likely that he will leave the club but if he stays, the fans will forgive him. Clint is the enforcer, the super-hero who saved them from demotion and he's a great player.

At least he has at least learned that silence is golden and words are cheap.

 

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