Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew led the praise for a wonder goal from France international Hatem Ben Arfa in their 2-1 home win against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup third round.
“I’ve not seen a better individual goal,” said Pardew after Ben Arfa went past several Blackburn players in a weaving run before powering a shot past Mark Benn.
“It’s the greatest goal I’ve ever seen. You can volley into the corner or smash a goal from 40 yards, but to score a goal like that you need to be a special talent.
“It was an unbelievable goal and I’m really pleased for him because he’s had a tough ride here with injuries, but showed today that hopefully Demba Ba won’t be as sorely missed as we thought he might be.”
Ben Arfa’s remarkable contribution came after a week when he was quoted as having problems finding a role in Pardew’s team, but the manager steered clear of any criticism of the former Paris St Germain player.
“I didn’t have to clear the air with him. I thought his comments were spot-on. He understands this is a big agenda for him and he needs to do well here. At some other clubs it hasn’t gone so well and he is doing everything in his power to do well here,” he said.
“He’s got to understand we are playing a high energy game and trying to fit him into that. There’s a balance that’s needed. You have to say he was outstanding in the second half when we moved him wider.
“There was a suggestion he didn’t want to play wide, but he has to understand it’s about the team and where we think he fits in best. His talent was there for all to see today.
“It’s a great opportunity for him and he probably feels he could play for France. I know the France Federation are looking at him closely to see if he will emerge.
“He’s got the talent as he showed today. Anybody who sees that goal will know he’s a special player and you have to treat him in a special way sometimes.”
Newcastle’s other goal came in the dying seconds from Jonas Gutierrez after David Goodwillie put Blackburn ahead.
Pardew added: “Blackburn knocked us out of the Carling (League) Cup in the last minute, so it was nice to get this win.”
The Newcastle manager also dealt with speculation linking Ba with Tottenham, whose manager Harry Redknapp talked about last week.
Pardew said: “You don’t want to talk about other players in the window and I’m sure he regrets it a little bit. He’s a Newcastle player and has been brilliant for us and that’s all I want to say about it.”
Steve Kean, the Blackburn manager, was equally determined to deal with further speculation about the future of two of his players, Christopher Samba and Yakubu.
Kean said: “The message is simple - Yak is our player and performing very well. We bought him in the last transfer window and he’s not for sale. He’s very happy.
“Samba is our player and we want to keep him at the club. We want to add to the squad, not break it up. He’s not for sale. He’s seven or eight months into a five year contract and we feel he’s a presence in both boxes.
“He’s pulled us together when other defenders have been out injuured and is a big part of our future.”
Neither played at St James Park as Blackburn were within 20 minutes of victory after Goodwillie’s goal was accompanied by a gritty defensive display and a generous helping of good fortune.
Kean said: “We are disappointed we didn’t see the game out or get a replay because the first half display merited it.
“First and foremost we wanted to get through to the next round and you could see that from the way we played in the first half.
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