Demba Ba Was The Start Of Alan Pardew’s Problems
It was the summer of 2012, Alan Pardew had been voted manger of the year after an excellent 5th place finish, just missing out on Champions League football.
Newcastle were being hailed as a model club, financially sound with a great scouting network, bringing in foreign “gems” for cheap prices resulting in excellent performances on the pitch.
In the first half of the 2011-2012 season it had all been about Demba Ba. He was scoring for fun and was attracting a lot of attention from “bigger” clubs. In January 2012 two things happened, we signed Pappis Cisse and Ben Arfa was finally making a playing return from that long injury lay-off. To accommodate Ba, Cisse and Ben Arfa, Pardew changed to an attacking 4-3-3 formation. It worked a treat.
We went on a fantastic run over the second half of the season, Cisse couldn’t stop scoring and Ben Arfa, playing on the right of the three, was getting back to the kind of form that showed why he had been hailed earlier in his career as a possible Ballon d’or winner. The only down side was Ba. He had been pushed to the left of the front three and failed to score again that season following Cisse’s debut match.
In the summer of 2012 Ba demanded to be played through the centre or would use his release cause to find another club. Pardew had to decide whether to change the formation that had just been so successful or stand up to Ba and tell him no player was bigger than the club. Don´t forget the name on everybody’s lips at the time was Pappis Cisse, not Demba Ba. He would have struggled to find a club who were willing to pay the transfer fee plus agents’ fees and the big wages he was after at that moment of time.
At the beginning of the 2012-2013 season Newcastle lined up in 4-4-2 formation. Ba and Cisse up front and Ben Arfa was pushed to the wide right of a midfield four which included extra defensive duties.
Despite an early success against Tottenham, the team struggled. Ba was hogging the ball up front, even in some cases refusing to pass the Cisse, as he tried to reclaim the limelight.
As the season reached January, Demba Ba departed and Newcastle were in real danger of being pulled into a relegation fight. Frightened by the possibility, Newcastle MD Derek Llambias sanctioned the spending of over 20 million pounds for 5 players from Ligue 1. A decision that in a few months would actually cost him his job as Mike Ashley brought in a certain someone, I won’t mention by name, as Director of Football.
The five players all had potential but none had experience of playing the fast physical football the premiership demands, and certainly none had the heart for regelation battle. They would also go on to saddle the team the next season, as they once again lost the will when the going got tough. The dip in form also had another adverse effect. It convinced a certain Yohan Cabaye that his future lay elsewhere.
How different things could have been if Pardew had had the character and know how of other Premier League managers back in that summer of 2012, and told Ba that the team would stick to the 4-3-3 formation, and if he didn´t like it then to leave.
Surely Pardew must have known that Ba wanted out. Could you imagine Alex Ferguson giving in to a player’s demands?
Ba of course would go on to secure the big money move he was always after. Ben Arfa suffered, being played as a traditional right winger struggled with his defensive duties and would fade away from the first team.
Cisse suffered a massive drop in form, losing confidence after the treatment he received from Ba over the first half of the 2012-2013 season, and would never return to the heights of 13 goals in 14 games.
And Newcastle well…….
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