I've taken a few days to think about the Demba Ba 'situation' that arose this week following his comments in the Everton post-match interview.
As we all now know, Demba said that he was "not happy with some things". I'd hope not, since he spent the first half of the game on the bench, but with his track record since arriving at the club this was widely interpreted as a more sinister statement. His brother's tweet about Pardew being "crazy" for leaving him out was followed by an interview with Demba's representative, Alex Gontran, in which he said that as well as sometimes not understanding the manager, "if he continues to be a substitute all season, we'll look at other options" - all season? He's missed only 45 minutes of Premier League football!
I guess most, if not all of you know what I mean by 'his track record'. After it was revealed late in the season that Demba had a £7 million release clause, his agent (and allegedly other people claiming to be his representatives) began touting him around Europe. It is one thing signing a player who has failed as many medicals as he's passed on a free transfer, it is quite another spending £7 million on him and committing to a long-term contract with an annual salary demand that is said to be in excess of £4 million per year. His current contract, which expires at the end of the 2013/14 season, is worth a substantial £50,000-per-week - at the top end of our pay structure.
Failure to secure a buyer at the numbers they were asking suggests that Demba Ba's entourage have misjudged his ability vs risk value. And this stance will definitely leave a sour taste in the mouth of a lot of Newcastle supporters - especially in these difficult economic times. Demba and his boys might use 45 minutes on the bench or having to play in a slightly different position as an excuse, but personally I think they'd have acted in the same way even if he'd played every minute of every game last season in a position of his choosing.
All of the rumours will recommence ahead of the January transfer window after Pardew announced that the £7 million release clause is reactivated then.
For now though we need to pick Demba in the same 4-3-3 that was so successful towards the end of last season. He might not like playing on the left of the three, but I'm pretty sure that he'll like it more than not playing at all. And as Pardew said: "I've got no problems with Demba because he's a team player and wants to do his best for the team." That is a credit to Demba. It might also suggest that he's poorly advised.
He's almost certain to start in Sunday afternoon's game at home to Norwich City - a game that will see the return to St James' Park of a Newcastle United hero, Chris Hughton. Chris always acted with great integrity in his roles at the club - something that many modern day footballers could learn a great deal from. Chris will receive a great reception from all in the stadium, me included, though on this occasion (and any other time we face him) I hope he leaves with nothing!
Disagree on Demba? Let me know below, or on Twitter @MarcSDuffy