Pardew refutes rift rumours
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew insists there is no rift between himself and striker Demba Ba.
The Senegal international admitted his displeasure at only being named among the substitutes for Monday night's 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw at Everton having responded in fine style by coming off the bench to score both his side's goals.
His agent Alex Gontran caused consternation on Tyneside when he suggested the following day that Ba might have to consider his options if he found himself sitting on the bench too often in the future.
Pardew's response in Madeira on Wednesday was more diplomatic than it might have been, with the initial response behind the scenes one of acute displeasure. He said: "That's just people needing to say things they shouldn't say, really, but it doesn't really affect me and Demba. We have got a good relationship."
Pardew signed Ba last summer and saw him plunder 15 goals before heading off to the African Nations Cup, after which he scored just once more before the end of the campaign.
However, he was asked to play a slightly different role on his return, one of the strands of Gontran's criticism.
That early form led to speculation that a series of suitors might activate the £7.5million release clause in Ba's contract during the summer, although the deadline came and went without incident.
Relief at the player's continued presence was tempered by the belief that he had been touted around for sale, and it would be no surprise if the rumours started once again as the next transfer window approaches.
In the meantime, Pardew has no problem making the tough decisions he needs to to balance the demands of trying to compete on four fronts. He said: "The bottom line is you have to get your players to play at their best and sometimes there are different methods of doing that."
Ba and compatriot Papiss Cisse were conspicuous by their absence when a largely inexperienced 19-man squad jetted out from Tyneside for Thursday night's Europa League clash with Maritimo, although Cisse was withdrawn because of illness.