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Ba exit fear allayed by Pardew
NEWCASTLE UNITED were saved again by Demba Ba's goalscoring touch yesterday and then manager Alan Pardew revealed the striker's agent has tried to diffuse talk about his future.
It was a further reminder of the Senegal striker's quality in front of goal just six days after he emerged from the bench to score a double to prevent defeat at Everton.
In the aftermath of that trip to Everton, Pardew had to deal with more speculation about the player's future, having spent the summer fearing a club would come in and trigger a £7.5m release clause.
Ba's agent Alex Gontran was quoted accusing the Newcastle boss of showing the player a lack of respect before threatening to quit the club if he spent more time on the bench.
Pardew, however, started with Ba yesterday and the African followed up that decision by scoring the decisive goal to maintain Newcastle's solid if unspectacular start to the campaign.
"There's just been so much nonsense written about it," said Pardew. "I spoke to his agent, who sent me an email saying he got mis-quoted and I actually believe him. I'm not usually one to believe agents that much but I do believe him on this occasion.
"I also think that Demba's anger has been generated in the right way to improve for Newcastle United and there's no way Demba can play every game this season.
"He's going to miss some other games; so will Shola Ameobi, so will Papiss Cisse. The best thing we can do is try to play the best players we've got and get a win. Demba led from start to finish - not just his goal, in the dressing room. Everything about him was top drawer."
Ba also had a crucial part to play in the decision to allow Cisse to take the penalty at the end of the first half against Norwich after Mike Williamson had been shoved to the floor by Steve Morison.
Hatem Ben Arfa, who was superb and laid on the goal for Ba, had hold of the ball when Ba and Jonas Gutierrez persuaded him to let out-of-sorts Cisse have a chance to score his first of the season.
When Cisse missed the target to sum up an afternoon which never improved for him, Pardew's No 2 John Carver showed his disbelief by angrily shouting at those involved.
But, after Newcastle saw out the win, Pardew showed a calmer side having been banned from the touchline for the final time.
"I just want my penalty taker to take them! That would be a start," said Pardew. "I can understand the group giving it to Papiss, it talks about the spirit we've got in the group that they wanted him to score.
"It wasn't what I wanted. I thought it was important though that I didn't make a big deal of it at half-time, the miss was bad enough for us. At the end I just reminded them we'll put the name on the board in the dressing room and we'll make sure it's him that takes it."
After his sensational start to life on Tyneside with 13 goals in his first 15 games last season, Cisse has looked a shadow of that player so far this season. Yesterday, aside from the penalty miss, the £9m striker snatched at chances and looked like a player shorn of confidence.
Pardew, who is likely to rest Cisse in the Capital One Cup at Manchester United on Wednesday, said: "I'm not going to talk Papiss up at the moment: he's not firing but he had three good chances today.
"In training he would have scored them but it just goes to show that with 55,000 people around what pressure can do. He just needs one off his nose or one off his knee and he'll be alright - he's a great player."
Newcastle's victory meant Hughton, returning to St James' Park for the first time since he was sacked in November 2010, is still looking for his first league win since taking over at Carrow Road in the summer.
But Hughton, still being cheered by hundreds as he left last night, was still touched by the reception he got by the Newcastle public.
Hughton, who led Newcastle back to the Premier League in May 2010, said: "It is always strange to come back somewhere in the other dugout but as soon as the game kicks off it is about your team performing well and trying to keep a passionate crowd here quiet. It was still an enjoyable feeling. It was nice for me, I have enjoyed it, but it was about the team."