Newcastle manager Alan Pardew hailed the “outstanding” Demba Ba after the Senegalese striker spearheaded the Tyneside club’s 3-0 rout of Manchester United.
In the wake of his last game before reporting for Africa Cup of Nations duty, Ba was showered with praise after producing a swashbuckling performance that saw him score a sublime opening goal as Newcastle crushed their Old Trafford rivals
After recording his 15th goal this season, Ba then won the free-kick that allowed Yohan Cabaye to double the lead in brilliant fashion and then Phil Jones completed a miserable night for the Premier League champions with a late own goal.
“Outside his goal, which was top-class, Demba’s all-round performance was outstanding,” Pardew told reporters.
“He picked it up in the hole, he went behind, he put himself in the firing line and he was aggressive in the air. It was as good a performance as he has put in.
“It is difficult to compare him to others strikers in the Premier League because he hasn’t had too much time here in England but this year you would have to put him in the top four or five.
“His biggest asset is his personality – he is a winner. Whatever role I have given him he has always tried to do to the best of his ability. His all-round performances have been excellent and tonight he was a leader and he put in a performance to match that.
“You could argue that Demba is irreplaceable but people thought that would be the case when Andy Carroll left last year and we didn’t do too badly without him but I am not going to hide away from the fact that Demba and Cheik Tiote were outstanding for us so we will miss them.”
Pardew claimed the key factor behind Newcastle’s first win over the Red Devils in a decade was their determination not to allow the visitors to get into their stride as they tried to bounce back from last Saturday’s 3-2 defeat by Blackburn.
“I didn’t think they were there for the taking because the Blackburn game couldn’t compare to this game because there is no way he had a balanced team to pick from but tonight he did with Giggs and Berbatov, Giggs and Carrick and Ferdinand and Jones at the back
“We knew Rio Ferdinand would play so they wouldn’t be as weak as they were against Blackburn but we had a nice mixture to our game. We were aggressive in the box and we got our reward for that but we also played some really decent stuff. We were brave. We pushed on to them. Apart from a brief period in the first half, we stayed on top of them and never let them play and were aggressive with them on night and got ourselves a great victory.”
The result meant United remain in second place in the league table three points behind Manchester City while Newcastle have moved into sixth place and now Pardew is keen to make sure his players remain grounded.
“The players deserve a lot of plaudits tonight because they have put in some fantastic performances,” Pardew added.
“One or two were exceptional but I am just proud of all of them. But my job is to make sure that we don’t get too carried away with that because we have got a very important game coming up at the weekend in the FA Cup against Blackburn."