On the Record
What They're Saying About U.S. Captain Clint Dempsey
February 17, 2014
The 30-year-old did finally get on the pitch on January 11, albeit in less-than-fortunate circumstances, as Fulham was trounced 4-1 by Sunderland on home turf. Two days later, in the Daily Star, Meulensteen backed Dempsey to find form: “Clint’s a fit boy and that comes pretty quickly. The more minutes and games he gets under his belt the quicker that will all come. It won’t take long for him to be right back up there.” In Fulham’s next league outing, a 2-0 defeat against Arsenal on January 18, Dempsey completed 90 minutes, yet received little praise.
Clint Dempsey return to Fulham will have to wait. He's not in the 18 today vs. West Ham— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 1, 2014
Clint Dempsey somehow uninvolved with both offense and defense today for @FulhamFC. No edge, little desire. In form or not, this is vexing— American Soccer Now (@ThisIsASN) January 18, 2014
Two more Premier League defeats followed, against Swansea and Southampton, in which Fulham was outscored 5-0. On January 28, following the Swansea loss, Kyle Bonn wrote on prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com: “The scariest part of it all is that the Texas native moves around the pitch like he’s running underwater. He has no drive, no pace, and no confidence.” After a run of four games without a win and with Fulham rooted to the bottom of the table, Dempsey tried to remain upbeat, telling USAToday: “It's been tough, but also it's been good for me, trying to get back to fitness and feeling good, coming off an injury toward the end of the season with the national team. It's good to get some games, some minutes over here, but unfortunately the results haven't been going our way. But I've still got a month left and hopefully we can start getting some points.” For Fulham’s next game, away to Manchester United on February 9, Dempsey did not even make the bench. Fulham won a hard-earned point n that contest.
@AlexiLalas He was lazy. Looked like he was on holiday. Only thing missing from his game was a deckchair.— Sophie Nicolaou (@soccerdiva) January 18, 2014
The next tie, against Liverpool at Craven Cottage on February 12, a Dempsey-less Fulham put up its fiercest fight yet, almost doing enough to draw the game, before losing out to a penalty awarded in injury time. Is it a coincidence that, with Dempsey in the squad Fulham struggle whereas without him, the players seem up for the fight? Following the Liverpool loss, these Fulham fans did not mince their words on Friendsoffulham.net: “Clint hasn't become any type of scapegoat, he's just been absolute utter tosh since returning to Fulham, and a shadow of his former self. No disrespect to the guy, I appreciate every thing he's done for Fulham, but he won't be helping us out this time around, that I can assure you of,” typed Admin on February 12. “I really can't understand why we took him in the first place,” added The Equalizer. “It was a two-month loan of a player who wasn't match fit at the time. Totally pointless, and he's more than proved that with his lack of effort on the pitch.” On Valentine’s Day, things took a turn for the worse when it was announced that Fulham’s manager had been sacked after just 75 days in the job and swiftly replaced by former Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, and Schalke boss Felix Magath. Confusion then set in when conflicting reports came out of Craven Cottage, suggesting that Meulensteen had not been fired but simply “replaced.” It brings back memories of what happened when Meulensteen himself took over from Martin Jol on December 1, having first been brought in as his assistant.
Everyone saying Clint Dempsey wasn't in the 18 for Fulham today reminded me that Clint Dempsey is currently at Fulham— Seth Vertelney (@svertgoalcom) February 9, 2014
It’s hard to predict whether Magath, famous for being a hard-line disciplinarian, will have any time for Dempsey—whose loan spell ends at the end of the month. Yet Sounders coach Sigi Schmid had this to say in a MLSsoccer.com article posted on February 15: “No, it doesn't affect it [the loan] at all. You don't know how Felix Magath is going to approach it in this period of time right now with the team.” In the comments section below the piece, however, others saw it differently: Portlandpadre wrote, “Fulham has one game left the rest of the loan period. He hasn't made 18 in last two. No reason not to come home, unless he doesn't' feel like coming back.” Ricardo Salazar added, “Given his form over the last few months, I doubt that he'd be very critical for the season opener. Hype fizzles fast when you cant back it up.” And, as ClayC1969 put it bluntly, “I strongly suspect that Magath's first question for Deuce will be if he wants an aisle or window on his way back to Seattle.” Seattle Sounders 2014 MLS Season will kick off on March 8, with a home tie against Sporting Kansas City. This is Laura Greene's fourth On the Record piece for ASN. Share your thoughts on Dempsey's return to London below.
Clint Dempsey might have been better off in Klinsmann's January camp than the circus he seems to have wandered into at Fulham.— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT) February 14, 2014