ALAN Pardew admits Newcastle United have missed Demba Ba in January, but now feels he has the personnel to cope without his top-scorer.
The Senegal striker made a controversial £7.5m move to Chelsea in the New Year. The wounds have not yet healed on the terraces, as Ba will doubtless find when he returns to St James’ Park with his new team this afternoon.
His departure, when the Blues exploited a buy-out clause in Ba’s contract, had a damaging effect physically and psychologically. But after a cross-Channel spending spree brought Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko amongst others to Tyneside, manager Pardew believes Newcastle have emerged from that.
The Magpies won their first match since Ba’s sale at Aston Villa on Tuesday, with Sissoko impressing as an attacking midfielder and French compatriot Gouffran starting out wide.
When asked if he anticipated Ba being booed today, Pardew replied: “I have no opinion about it other than to say we’ve missed him. We didn’t have Moussa and Yoan, we lacked a bit of power and presence in the team and in that period I don’t think we won a game. We went out of the FA Cup and lost two Premier League games so it was a blow to us.”
Having exploited a clause in Ba’s West Ham United contract to take him from the relegated London club for free, his 18 months at Newcastle turned out to be excellent business.
Many fans were understandably upset at what they perceived as the mercenary nature of Ba’s departure; over time Newcastle tried hard to remove the buy-out
clause – but Pardew refused to say they should never have agreed to it. “It went in because of the (knee) condition he has and we could never negotiate away from that,” he argued.
“It was a similar position to Everton the other night (when an £8.6m deal for Leroy Fer collapsed) and you have to make a call.
“Whether we would do something different next time I don’t know.