LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: Steven Pienaar of Everton and Clint Dempsey of Fulham battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Fulham at Goodison Park on April 25, 2010 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images)
One of the major dramatic turns in yesterday's deadline day madness was the saga of American Clint Dempsey. The player had vocally expressed his desire to leave Fulham as the season got underway and certainly waited until the last minute to finalize his move to London. His first choice was always Liverpool who couldn't muster up enough cash to satisfy Fulham's demands. He's now a member of Tottenham.
Enter Aston Villa. While Liverpool told Jen Chang to search the couch cushions for extra cash, Villa contacted Fulham and made an offer closer to Fulham's valuation of the player and it was accepted. Naturally, the next step was to talk to Dempsey himself to gauge his feelings about a move to Birmingham. Apparently his reaction was not exactly a joyous yelp but more a beleaguered sigh.
Despite the player's disinterest Paul Lambert probably could have taken Dempsey on before Spurs swooped in to seal the transfer. Instead, he told Dempsey he wouldn't be needed after all. Thanks to the piece by friend of the blog Mat Kendrick in the Birmingham Mail we know that Lambert was expecting a different reaction from the American star. Lambert only wants players that are hungry and if you've read a single quote from the man over the last week this much is clear: for his methods to succeed he needs hungry, motivated players and he won't accept anything less. That's bad news for anyone on the squad that has any sense of entitlement.
I can see people taking this two ways: The first way would be the doom and gloom Villa fan who might say Dempsey's reaction is further proof that this is a club in decline and no longer a destination for top players. The more reasonable reaction would be to say Villa's decline in prestige should be obvious by now. No, this is not the best period of Aston Villa's proud history. A manager of lesser resolve might have bent to Dempsey's hand, taken him on anyway (and his high wages) and tried to convince him that he'd enjoy being at Villa. Lambert doesn't believe he should have to pay for the privilege of having entitled stars - he's going to ask young talent earn the right to play for him.
It seems to me that if Dempsey had a more favorable reaction that the club would have paid the fee and his wages without affecting any of the other deals Lambert was working on. That should prove to most people that Randy Lerner is fully backing his manager and will help him achieve the club he wants without putting ridiculous restrictions on the purse strings.
Sure, there are still some restrictions and there should be some but Villa are in the top 4 clubs in England when it comes to net transfer spend over the last five years. Moans about the club not spending enough money are misplaced. It is prudent spending that Villa needs - and from our first window with Paul Lambert it seems prudent spending has come.