Ba rules out setting targets after Toon hat-trick
NEWCASTLE striker Demba Ba is not setting himself any targets after launching his career on Tyneside in style with a match-winning hat-trick.
The 26-year-old Senegal international, who scored seven goals in 12 Barclays Premier League appearances for West Ham last season, may not have been the marquee signing the fans hoped and clamoured for, ultimately in vain, during the summer transfer window.
However, after a slow start by the standards he had set himself at Upton Park, Ba belatedly announced his arrival with a treble in Saturday’s 3-1 home victory over Blackburn which extended the Magpies’ unbeaten start to the campaign to eight games in all competitions.
That took him level with leading scorer Leon Best, but the former Hoffenheim frontman insisted he has not set himself a mark to reach before the end of the campaign.
Ba said: “I just want to have good performances and score goals. That’s what makes me happy. I have a competition against myself.
“It’s been a good day after a lot of work and a lot of bad performances and now today, the work just paid off for me.
“I was not fit at the beginning of the season and now after six games, I am starting to get my sharpness back, and I am just going to keep on working to have it 100 per cent for the next weeks.
“You feel happy. I have scored my first goal here this season and I just hope it is going to keep on going.”
Manager Alan Pardew never doubted Ba’s ability in front of goal, but was convinced that the effects of the player’s fasting during Ramadan had left him fighting for full fitness.
However, Ba revealed Pardew had repeatedly assured him that he would get his opportunity when he was ready.
He said: “He always told me that when I was fit, I would get my chance and it was up to me to take it or leave it.”
Ba had already drilled a longrange shot over Paul Robinson’s crossbar when he fired Newcastle ahead with 27 minutes gone.
In perhaps the best of his three finishes, he controlled Best’s driven cross before turning defender Scott Dann and thumping a rightfooted shot into the back of the net. Ba said: “To tell you the truth, the ball was for Leon. I just wanted to give it back to Leon because he was in a good position as well.
“I haven’t seen the pictures yet, but I don’t think anybody touched it and the ball went into the goal, so I am very happy with that.”
He doubled his tally within three minutes with a simple close-range header after Steven Taylor had helped Danny Simpson’s cross back across the penalty area, and completed his hat-trick nine minutes after the restart.
Cheick Tiote’s deep cross allowed Ba to climb at the far post and loop a header over Robinson with Best failing to get a decisive touch as he collided with Dann and Robinson on the line, although not illegally in the view of referee Martin Atkinson.
Rovers, however, took a different view and midfielder Martin Olsson was booked for his protests, a caution which proved costly 20 minutes from time when he was yellow-carded for a second time
It’s been a good day after a lot of work and a lot of bad performances. Demba Ba, Newcastle striker on his
upturn in fortunes for United.
for a cynical trip on Best.
The visitors had given themselves hope eight minutes before half-time when Junior Hoilett had blasted home after Mauro Formica and Olsson had capitalised on an error by Ryan Taylor, but Olsson failed to make the most of two second-half Michel Salgado crosses as their hopes were extinguished.
Victory maintained Newcastle’s fourth place in the table just a point adrift of Chelsea in third, but sent Blackburn back into the bottom three and dissipated the optimism fostered by last weekend’s victory over Arsenal.
Manager Steve Kean, who cited the controversy over Ba’s third goal as the turning point in the game, was nevertheless defiant.
He said: “It’s a disappointing result because we felt positive, we felt we could come here today and get something.
“The way we came back into the game and the way we started the second half, we were positive.
“That checks the momentum we have built up from beating Ar senal and then getting through to the next round of the Carling Cup, but we will get back on the training ground.
“We will see how the injuries are because near the end of the game, (Gael) Givet had to stay on injured, Salgado had to stay on injured and we ended up with young Jason Lowe having to play at left-back, so it was tough near the end, he said.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will return to Norwich City tonight knowing the lesson he learnt there 27 years ago remains just as relevant today.
Bruce endured a disastrous debut for the Canaries when he scored a first-minute own goal against Liverpool on the opening day of the 1984-85 season after his move from Gillingham, but went on to pick up a winners’ medal in the League Cup final that season.
The central defender spent three and a half years at Carrow Road before his form alerted Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson to his prowess, and the rest is history.
That revival of fortunes was not lost on Bruce as he contemplated his return having guided Sunderland to a 4-0 victory over Stoke last Sunday amid speculation that his time at the Stadium of Light could be drawing to a close.
He said: “In my first game for Norwich, I scored an own goal after 30 seconds – it was against Liverpool at home – and I think I scored a second own goal as well about 22 minutes later.
“I think they were calling for my head that day as well – ‘Who’s this clown we have bought here from Gillingham? Get him back to Gillingham’.
“Six months later, we were winning the cup against Sunderland, ironically, at Wembley.
“I had gone from the third division to playing in the first division, as it was then, so for that, I will always be grateful to Norwich.”
Newcastle’s Demba Ba celebrates his second goal at St James’ Park to the delight of manager Alan Pardew, inset.