Fulham fans should blame Tottenham Hotspur for their demise

Fulham Dempsey Near Post

The double sale of Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey to Tottenham Hotspur in 2012 sent Fulham into a downward spiral they never recovered from.

Two transfers of Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey late on in the transfer window in summer 2012 have proved underwhelming to Tottenham, but critical where Fulham are concerned.

The Belgian and the American proved to be impossible for Martin Jol to properly replace and to add insult to injury, the pair were reduced to being squad players at White Hart Lane. During their time at Craven Cottage, they had been two of the West London club's key first team stars.

Dempsey, who was a talisman goalscorer for the Cottagers during his six years with them, left for MLS side Seattle Sounders less than a year after making the switch to Spurs. Meanwhile, things went from bad to worse for his former club.

You can't blame the players. They have to look after the interests of their careers and families, but as shown by how they've wasted the Gareth Bale money on a glut of unsuitable players, Tottenham have been an incredibly wasteful club in the transfer window. Hungry for more, they took full advantage of Fulham's position for two players they barely needed.

Take Dembele. Under Jol he was the man that brought the West Londoners together as a team. He was the most important player in the squad and became one of the best midfielders outside of the top four in the Premier League after he was moved into a deeper position.

Players of his type are far from easy to find, especially for a side like Fulham, but look at the trouble Manchester United and Manchester City have had finding the right men to play in the middle of their formations in recent years. City paid £30 million for Fernandinho while Marouane Fellaini has failed miserably to carry the load.

Dembele never struggled with his responsibilities at Craven Cottage. His box-to-box runs, clever passing and solid hard work allowed his team's unusual array of players to somehow blend together into a dangerous attacking force.

Bryan Ruiz, Damien Duff and Dempsey looked like rival individuals until the Belgian was played behind them, tackling the opposition's forwards and dribbling past defenders to give his attackers the ball. There was no way Fulham were ever going to find a replacement for such a complete, high-calibre player at a price they could afford, in so little time.

Similarly, Dempsey took with him a guarantee of at least 10 goals a season. That's not an easy amount of strikes to suddenly make up for at a club of Fulham's stature.

How it must have hurt watching these two taken away to Tottenham to play in reduced roles, especially for Jol who ultimately lost his job through their sales. To this day Dembele is still denied the focus he was given by the Cottagers and that his talent deserves. He is just a cog in the team at White Hart Lane rather than their main man.

Fulham did try to cover for their departures. Dimitar Berbatov arrived from Manchester United, but without Dembele to orchestrate the team from deep, his class was wasted at the front of a team unable to feed him.

This season, Scott Parker came the other way, arriving from Tottenham to much fanfare. Perhaps Spurs had felt a pang of guilt for raiding their neighbours dry, but it was a move that only made the situation at Fulham worse.

Parker has provided plenty of graft but he's nowhere near close to matching the build up play and playmaking leadership of Dembele. He's ultimately been a second Steve Sidwell with both players running about a lot but unable to control games. At least the loan deal for Lewis Holtby looked capable of fixing this problem but in reality it was too little, too late.

These in-built flaws eventually cost Rene Meulensteen his job after he succeeded Jol, and now Felix Magath has come in to pick up the pieces. Some fans may be inclined to blame the management or even their new owner Shahid Kahn but instead they should direct all their ire at Spurs.

Whether they intended to be or not, Tottenham were greedy when they took from Fulham players that the smaller club couldn't replace. They even piled yet more transfers onto their plate in later windows that followed too. Who cares if they paid good money for the pair. What were the selling club meant to do with cash amounts that were well below the asking prices for suitable stopgaps?

Fingers crossed they can somehow find a way out of the sinking sands of the relegation battle. Should they survive, Magath has to finally plug the gaps left by the stars Fulham lost two years ago before he can even think of moving forwards with the club.

Should he manage to do that, the Cottagers will be forced to live in hope that Tottenham don't swoop in to send them back into decline once again.

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