West Ham’s Grant and his little black book
Hammers boss Avram Grant keeps all his potential signings in a little black book - and Demba Ba was right at the top of it.
If Stoke City had taken a chance, then West Ham striker Demba Ba could well have been playing in red and white stripes at Upton Park on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Senegal international failed a medical at the Britannia Stadium and Potters boss Tony Pulis decided it was too big a gamble to sign the big centre forward.
And he lived to regret it on Saturday as Ba made it four goals in five games in claret and blue by opening the scoring at Upton Park.
But for manager Avram Grant, the decision to sign the Hoffenheim hitman was a no-brainer.
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“I never had a doubt,” said Grant after Saturday’s 3-0 win. “It can’t be that a player who has played 21 games this season in the Bundesliga can’t cope.
“I believe in the medical books, I believe in the book of tactics, but if you think only by the books, you will be a writer and not a coach.”
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West Ham’s manager has a little book of his own and Ba has been written in bold letters within it for quite some time. He prides himself with the fact that he spotted the potential of the player first.
“I follow all the leagues in Europe, so I have followed the German League for many, many years,” explained Grant. “His team were in first place last season so I have been watching him for a long time.
“I will look in my book and tell you when I first spotted him,” he laughed.
It is a little galling to the manager that the battle for Ba became such a difficult one as a number of teams tried to muscle in on the deal.
“I’m very happy Stoke didn’t sign him,” he said. “Nobody knew about Demba before I wanted him.
“I followed him a long time as one of the best strikers in Germany. We brought him here, his name was in the paper and all the other teams started to be interested.”
Stoke attempted to grab Ba from under the noses of the Hammers, but Grant is convinced that the player would still have opted to join West Ham, even if he had passed that medical.
“I don’t try to steal players from other teams,” said Grant. “I don’t say that Stoke did that, maybe they heard from other sources, but when I read about players going to other teams, it is okay with me.
“I believe in players who don’t change their mind and from the first day he said he wanted to play for us.”
And play he certainly he has. Four goals in five matches have made him one of the hottest properties in the Premier League.
“I don’t remember a player who has made such a big impact in the first few games he has played in the Premier League,” said the manager.
So was it a gamble to sign Demba Ba?
At the moment, far from a gamble, it looks like the bargains of the season.