Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ba humbug

What to make of the comments made by Demba Ba's agent Alex Gontran in the wake of Monday's thrilling draw at Everton, secured by two Ba goals? "Since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, Demba doesn't understand the management. If he continues to be a substitute all season, we'll look at other solutions."

Well, for a start, Ba hasn't even been a substitute all season so far - on the contrary, he'd only been omitted from the starting line-up once before Monday, and that was for the trip to Atromitos in the Europa League. Instead, the issue is perhaps that he (or his agent) feels as though compatriot Papiss Cisse is getting favoured ahead of him at present. It may have been true that Ba was forced into a less familiar self-sacrificing role for the good of the team when Cisse arrived from Freiburg last season, but this campaign Ba's been deployed more centrally while Cisse has not been immune to being benched, having sat out the return fixture against Atromitos.

Paul has suggested that surely the ideal solution is for the Silver Fox to pick them both but simply alternate which of the pair spearheads the attack, therefore making them take turns in the less natural wider role. Eminently sensible - except there will be times when going with what is essentially a front three (with HBA) isn't a wise move. We tried it at Stamford Bridge and were comfortably beaten, so I don't think the Silver Fox was necessarily wrong to switch to 4-5-1 for another tough away game - the problem in the first half against Everton was more the fact that the players within that system let him down, especially Ba's replacement Sylvain Marveaux.

The Silver Fox's reaction to Gontran's little tantrum has been predictable enough in some respects - "I have spoken to Demba [about his agent] and told him I was disappointed with some of the comments around him" - but he did also drop the significant bombshell that the £7m release clause in Ba's contract hasn't expired after all and could yet be triggered. I suppose 'Appy 'Arry's currently between jobs, so someone's got to tout around the price tag of one of our best players...

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