Ba on his way out of Toon in January There's no smoke without fire…
16:45 GMT, 18 September 2012
The worry is there is no smoke without fire.
First Demba Ba has a pop, and now his agent decides to lash out because Alan Pardew has decided to leave his precious client on the bench.
When did players become automatic choices When was that written into their contract
Alan Pardew has done a pretty good job so far of picking teams. The fact that Newcastle’s worst performance under his tenure (his words, not mine) after he decided to leave Ba on the bench at Everton does give members of the Ba camp, and the player, ammunition.
Talking point: Demba Ba's agent revealed the Newcastle striker was unhappy after being named as a substitute before coming off the bench to score twice against Everton
But in going to Goodison, where Newcastle were easily beaten last season, and where David Moyes’s side have made a very bright start to the new season, Pardew decided, for once, to change his line-up and tactics. Ba was the sacrifice.
Quelling Leighton Baines and anchoring the midfield was made a higher priority than getting the ball near Tim Howard’s net, which was a feat Newcastle only really managed once in 45 lousy minutes with Papiss Cisse chasing lost causes.
And then Pardew changed it. His frustration at the first-half performance, his hands tied and backside fixed to the seat in the stands and his team selection exposed as a flop, the Newcastle boss made his feelings known to his players in the break.
He brought Ba on, made the tactical switch of the night swapping James Perch and Vurnon Anita, and saw a much-improved Newcastle match Everton in an enthralling second half. And Ba scored two goals. The player from the early part of last season – not the fella who couldn’t hit a barndoor for 14 games at the end of the last one – looks to be back.
He let his football and his goals do the talking, delivered the perfect riposte and reminder to his manager so he could have his little dance in the main stand. And he won Newcastle an excellent point. And until Pardew picks his team for Norwich’s visit on Sunday, when Ba will be back in the starting line-up, that should be the end of the matter.
At the double: Ba hit a brace to rescue a point for Alan Pardew's side at Goodison Park on Monday night
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But around the enigma of Ba, who declined the opportunity to be interviewed by the written press at Goodison, are meddlers and parties who can’t keep their mouths shut.
Brother Hamady had already had a go at Pardew – and we don’t know if his sibling was aware of his pre-match Tweet – declaring the manager 'crazy' for daring to leave Ba on the bench. The fact Cisse can play and score a bit too is irrelevant apparently.
Now, agent Alex Gontran has informed the world that his his client 'does not understand the management' of Newcastle.
'Since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, Demba doesn't understand the management,' said Gontran.
'If he continues to be a substitute all season, we'll look at other solutions.
'How could you put your best striker with full confidence on the left wing
'The choice to put Demba on the left last season was good for the club, because Cisse scored 13 goals.
'But there was a lack of recognition for Demba. It is more difficult to play well when you don't have the confidence of your staff.
'Demba is happy at Newcastle. He is playing in the Premier League, with lot of fellow French speakers and he loves the club's supporters.
'He would like to start every game but he respects the choice of the coach, even if he does not always understand or agree.'
Presumably this is the same agent who let the world know that Ba, who Newcastle and Pardew took a risk on last season, was available if clubs were prepared to trigger a 9million release clause.
Presumably this is the same agent who might have benefitted somewhat financially if that clause had been released. It wasn't.
Presumably therefore, he still remains interested in seeing if other clubs are still interested in his client and if 'other solutions' could still give him, and others, a nice little pay day.
Ba may not be particularly happy at Newcastle the moment, and he might not be the only one.
But presumably he'd agree with me that he should let his manager do his job, and he should carry on doing his, without interference from mouthy advisers who don’t have to face Pardew or put in a shift in a black and white shirt.
Something's up with Sessegnon
Talking of unhappy players, what’s up with Stephane Sessegnon
Last season’s Sunderland player of the year is a shadow of the player who was such a livewire under Martin O’Neill in his first six months in charge.
On Saturday, in the first half against Liverpool, there was even a Sessegnon first. He lost complete control of a simple pass, allowing it to bounce of his shin as if he was a Sunday Pub League player, not one of the most skilful to come out of Africa. O’Neill was apoplectic by the dug-out.
Clearly it is a problem the Sunderland manager didn’t expect to have but the magician from Benin has become an additional problem for O’Neill to ponder as he works on the likes of Johnson, Fletcher and McClean for a sustained period.
Something's up: Stephane Sessegnon has struggled to get started so far this season at Sunderland
He said: 'It’s just not happening for him at the moment. Some of things you can put down to lack of fitness, other things you can put down to not brilliant play, really, because some of the things that you expect of him, like being able to keep the ball not giving it away early in the game.
'It wouldn’t have anything to do with fitness, you know. So he just needs to get sharper in every aspect, sharper in fitness and sharper in the brain, because we know what he’s capable of doing. But it’s been a tough old time for him.'
Yeah, tough old time. Adored on Wearside, just signed a new contract, given the freedom of the Premier League by a manager who took to him from the day he took over and who keeps him in that difficult position to manage and defend against, behind the lone striker. The heart hardly bleeds for the lad.
Something isn’t quite right though.
I wonder if O’Neill might even be prepared to drop him – and take the wrath of brothers, wives and agents (and supporters) in the process
Tell us a story, Woody
Someone needs to have a word with Jonathan Woodgate.
The Middlesbrough defender has ruled out writing an autobiography when he finishes playing, which is a real shame.
He has undoubtedly had a colourful career on and off the pitch, and had his fair share of highs and lows.
But in an interview with the Boro matchday programme, Redsquare at the weekend, the former England international said he wouldn't be putting pen to paper.
Head boy: Middlesbrough defender Jonathan Woodgate doesn't plan to release a book when he hangs up his boots
As one of the best talkers in the game, and one of the most honest, fans will miss a treat.
When asked he had ever been tempted to write a book, he said: 'No it's not something I am tempted to do. I've enjoyed my time in football. My career has been up and down because I have had a lot of injuries but I've also had great days and great opportunities.
'I've been lucky enough to play for some of the best clubs in the world so overall I can't complain.'
If he can finish his career by helping his home-town club get back into the Premier League, maybe he will be persuaded to change his mind.