Few could believe the start that Fulham made to the 2012/13 English Premier League season—winning their first match in such a dominant fashion, before pushing Manchester United at Old Trafford the entire match in their second..
The Cottagers looked strong in attack; their defense looked solid and they were touted as genuine contenders in the Premier League this season—perhaps even a surprise candidate for a top-four position this season.
They hadn't set the world on fire during the summer transfer window, but—to be honest, that was quite okay. I mean, it was their name that was close to the top of the English Premier League table after all. They were already proving themselves this season.
Then, in the final few days of the transfer window with deadline looming, Fulham sold Moussa Dembele to Tottenham Hotspur. They had sold him for £15 million—making nearly £10 million on him in profit—but they had just parted ways with the heart and soul of their midfield.
They had just let go of—arguably—their best attacking asset this season; a decision that was then compounded by the sale of Clint Dempsey.
After dropping Dembele to Spurs only a day or so earlier, the Cottagers sold the American star, who was rumored throughout summer to be leaving Craven Cottage. They again sold him to Tottenham, who picked up the attacking midfielder for £6 million.
Fulham had just parted ways with Dembele and Dempsey in the one transfer window, and whilst they now had £20 million in the bank, they had lost their two best players. They would have to find new alternatives and options going forward, which like everything, would take time.
If you'd seen their performance against West Ham, you'd completely understand. Taking nothing away from the Hammers, but Fulham were simply horrendous.
They lacked creativity going forward, they couldn't hit the final pass (or the final few passes) and they simply didn't appear to be the same side that had swept past their first two opponents with relative ease.
Fulham were turning the ball over with ease—leading to goals and attacking opportunities at the other end of the pitch, but couldn't muster the same pressure and opportunities when they themselves ventured forward. Their second half was an improvement, but their midfield and attack simply didn't offer the same going forward as it had done previously in the year.
Had the Cottagers made a transfer mistake?
Was Martin Jol wrong in selling Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey over the summer transfer window? Or was it in the best interests of the club?
So far, you'd have to suggest the former of those two statements.
Selling Dembele was a mistake.
I'm okay with the move to get rid of Dempsey—I think the club had braced for a move from Liverpool all summer long and might have even come to accept the fact that they would be without the American for the 2012/13 English Premier League season.
But to lose Dembele as well as Dempsey is a move that Fulham could well regret throughout the season, and a decision that they may want to take back at several points during the year.
The Belgian was the heart and soul of their midfield—the player that gave them their go forward and the man that allowed players like Dempsey to thrive and excel.
Berbatov is an excellent signing, and a player that could excel at the Craven Cottage, but without Dembele behind him to generate the attack, he is rendered useless. He will not be as effective as he should be this season; Fulham will not be as effective this season.
Heck, I could be wrong, and the match against West Ham might just have been a minor blip on a strong and successful season.
I seriously hope so.
Fulham promised so much in the opening two games of the English Premier League, and they looked like a genuine threat to the top teams this year. They looked strong in attack, dominant in midfield, and I genuinely hope that the decision to sell Dembele didn't undo all that hard work and potential.
Because for now, that's exactly what it looks like.
Should Fulham have sold Moussa Dembele this summer?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!