Off the Mark: Demba Ba deserves moments in the spotlight, now he needs to leave Chelsea to find more
Less is more, some say. It’s why there were only ever 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers and 14 of The Office. As another well-worn saying goes, always leave them laughing.
Sometimes though, just leaving them full stop is the best option.
Up until the past week, Demba Ba has been Chelsea’s best-paid supporter this season, the Senegalese forward afforded one of the best seats in the house as he got to watch Eden Hazard, Oscar and the like strut their stuff and make prolonged assaults on winning both the Premier League and Champions League.
Sure, Ba would get a chance to get onto the pitch occasionally – a few minutes here, a couple of touches there, two goals against Tottenham Hotspur, you know, the usual stuff – but he wasn’t really part of the team. He wasn’t really part of Jose Mourinho’s plans. He was just there. Another name, another number, another pay cheque to a club who can afford to dole out as many as they want.
Mourinho, utilising that special ability he has to put himself at the front and centre of each and every thing that his team does, has often been critical of his forwards this season, but you got the sense that he was never really singling out Ba. Doing so would be like blaming a weatherman for global warming, or Brazil for the Cuban Missile Crisis. It would just look out of place.
Coming off the back of his priceless strike against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, the winning goal that Ba scored against Swansea in the Premier League last weekend was absolutely vital to Chelsea’s title hopes. It has put those hopes back in their own hands, with logic now dictating that a win at Liverpool in 11 days’ time would see them become favourites again.
The Liberty Stadium saw what was only Ba’s third Premier League start of the season, whilst he scored his fourth goal. It was a big goal, but if Chelsea are to overhaul Liverpool and win the league, then how much of a part has he actually played?
The same can be said of the Champions League run too, as we now have the bizarre notion that Chelsea’s two most important goals of the season were scored by a man who has barely featured.
If, as expected, both Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o depart the club in the summer, with a shiny new £50m+ forward brought in – a Diego Costa or a Radamel Falcao – then Ba might well be put under pressure to stay and play second fiddle again. Chelsea would undoubtedly want him too.
But the forward is far too good a player to be forced into this situation again, and regardless of what the club say to him he should look to escape through the transfer window once it opens.
Ba could take inspiration from the man he effectively replaced at Stamford Bridge, Daniel Sturridge, who sensed an opportunity to leave and join a club and manager who believed in him in Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers.
As we saw at Newcastle, a fit, firing and most importantly selected Ba can be one of the best forwards in the Premier League, and he is certain to have more than a few suitors. Everton, should they be unable to secure Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea permanently, and Tottenham, if they are going to give up on the disastrous Roberto Soldado experiment, immediately spring to mind.
Perhaps Ba will decide that he’s had enough of England and leave for pastures new, but that would be a huge shame for Premier League fans if he does.
The forward is a player who deserves to be seen, to be appreciated, and most of all to play.
Come the summer he’ll find himself at front and centre of the shop window, and must hope for a caring buyer.
Norwich think it’s all over…
I was at the Fulham v Norwich game on Saturday, and whilst the 90 minutes itself wasn’t the most enthralling, what was perhaps most important was the reaction of the Norwich players come full-time.
Upon the final whistle, the likes of Nathan Redmond, Robert Snodgrass and Martin Olsson looked shell-shocked, with some sinking to their knees. It was as though the club had already been relegated.
With fixtures against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal to come, many think they already have of course, but is there not the possibility that they could pick up a couple of points somewhere there?
Judging by those reactions, some of the players think they are down already.
Fulham can fire at Spurs
West Brom were seconds away from landing our bet last weekend only for Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen to equalise late on, and we’re going to take on Spurs again on Saturday.
Fulham make the trip to White Hart Lane desperate for points, and they can pick up something at a ground they won at last season.
If you’re feeling brave, BetMclean.com have Felix Magath’s side at 5/1 to win, although the 11/8 Draw or Fulham Double Chance might be the way to go. They are also 10/3 to win on the Draw No Bet market.