Who knew a 2nd round, 1-0 exit from the Carling Cup (I refuse to call it the Capital One Cup) to Sheffield Wednesday would be the second most grim thing to happen to Fulham today?
Something we’ve been avoiding as fans for this whole window, shoving it to the back of our minds and scolding our thoughts for bringing such negative energy into our swirling heads. Fulham are probably going to be selling Moussa Dembele.
It is 99% going to be to Tottenham, as they look to be replacing Luka Modric. Fulham did all but confirm this yesterday when, after that awfully disappointing loss to a Championship side, on the very bottom line of the manager’s reaction stuffed away in the article, they made the following vague but dooming statement:
Jol also confirmed post-match that the Club has accepted a bid for Mousa Dembele from Tottenham Hotspur. The player is currently undergoing a medical.
So, it seems our rock solid midfielder, our technically gifted central glue who truly exploded onto the scene in the first two matches this season, is gone. The glue to the midfield, the center of the attack. Dembele’s passes completed numbers were staggering through the first two matches, and he had more completed dribbles than the entire Manchester United team put together. So it’d be a bit fitting to dub Dembele one of the most “complete” midfielders, yes?
Anyways, after an incredibly rough day to be a Fulham fan, here is a complete summary of my feelings, broken down into two seperate categories.
WHY YOU SHOULD PANIC:
- Moussa Dembele is no longer going to be playing at Craven Cottage, leaving the starting midfielders as Steve Sidwell and Mahamadou Diarra, with Pajtim Kasami, Simon Davies, and Chris Baird on the bench, and the other midfielders Damien Duff and Alex Kacaniklic both play on the wing. Let me rephrase this for you if you’re struggling to grasp this here: there is no depth. The starting midfielders are 29 and 31 years old, and on the bench are two defenders who can play in the midfield and a promising yet unproven 20 year old. Oh and there’s Clint Dempsey too, Fulham’s player of the year last year and leading goalscorer. But he doesn’t count because he doesn’t want to play, nor will he talk to the manager. Because apparently now employer/employee relationships are akin to two 15 year old girls who aren’t speaking after they got in a fight over boys they’re dating.
- Fulham, without Dembele mind you, lost to Sheffield Wednesday 1-0, in a match that saw the away side (us) completely and utterly lacking…well…Moussa Dembele. There was absolutely zero creativity, and there was no connection between the defense and attack. It was an altogether lackluster effort, described by Gentleman Jim as “pedestrian.” Sure, you could argue Fulham do this every year in the Carling Cup (they’ve crashed out in the 3rd round in each of the last 5 years prior to this year), but it’s still a glaring weakness to the club without Dembele to hold things together.
- Oh, also Bryan Ruiz was injured in pregame warmups. GREAT.
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T PANIC:
- Fulham have the ace up their sleeve that every shrewd club has: a good manager. Martin Jol gets paid the big bucks to be in his position for a reason. If he were smart, and I see no reason why he isn’t, he’ll have contingency plans drafted up for just about EVERY possible scenario. Like, for example, if Mladen Petric were to pick up a season-ending injury tomorrow, what would the club do? If Brede Hangeland suddenly decided to head off to Barcelona, what would Fulham do? If Fulham got a sizeable offer for Dembele from a club who just lost one of, if not the, Premier League’s best central midfielder to Real Madrid, what would the club…..oh, that DID just happen. Jinxes aside, just like any other apocalyptic scenario Fulham could face, this one needs to and does have a backup plan, which I’m sure was drafted WELL in advance of today’s happenings. Jol will be working around the clock to fix this issue along with plugging the already-existing holes in the squad.
- There’s still 2 days left in the transfer window. Just last year, Fulham secured two players within ticks of the transfer deadline (Ruiz and Orlando Sa). Sure one of them didn’t end up amounting to anything, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this can still happen.
- Fulham didn’t just hand Andre Villas-Boas Dembele for the fun of it. They now have about £18 million to use. Theoretically, Moussa Dembele, just like any other player under squad control, is an asset – a financial one. They gave Spurs Dembele’s control and got money in return, theoretically equal to Dembele’s value. Therefore, that money will be IMMEDIATELY reinvested into the club. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous two bullet points, and by putting all of them together, there’s still plenty of hope that Fulham can right the ship before the window shuts and we have to play West Ham the following day.
- We still have one Moussa Dembele, remember?
Do I want to panic? YES. Do I really, really, really want to panic? YES.
Should I panic? NO.
And neither should you. Should you panic once the transfer deadline is finished and nobody is brought in to replace Dembele, or any of the other holes Fulham need to fill? Yes. But before that deadline shuts, hold it in. It’s easy to vent all over Twitter and call the club stupid and throw around words like “ambition” and “painful” and “Mark Hughes” but don’t. It’s not what a real fan would do. The real fan holds their club accountable for their actions, but only when said club has been given a fair chance to act. Those next 2 days are CRITICAL to the club’s health, but let’s wait till those days are complete to see what happens.
Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to Moussa for all he’s given this club. Fulham made him what he is, and the club is better for what he’s given it. He’s handled this season of speculation with nothing but class, playing in every match he’s been asked to, and playing stellar in those matches might I add (which is way more than some of our other players rumored to be leaving can say). Of course this move reestablishes the theory that Fulham are just a feeder club, but it’s a loooooong process to removing that label. We’re well on our way, but it’s still a fact I wholeheartedly accept, and something that doesn’t make me shy away from the club. It’s just something we live with.
If you get a chance, let Moussa know on Twitter how much you appreciate his time at Craven Cottage. It’s been a blast to watch him, and I wish him all the success at Tottenham and/or wherever else he ends up.
If you want more thoughts on this move, read this article by Andy Glockner, it’s an excellent summary of the impacts this move has, and brings up a great point about Clint Dempsey.