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Is Kevin Nolan part of the problem?

Filed: Wednesday, 28th September 2011
By: Gary Portugal

Kevin Nolan is failing on all counts at the moment. Apart from the occasional good pass, I cannot identify anything that he is contributing to the team.

Nine games into the season he does not look fit, perhaps owing to time out in the close season from an operation. But if that is the case, why play him every match, especially for the full 90 minutes?

We cannot carry passengers and, in his current state of fitness, Nolan is exactly that: a passenger. That he is captain should not mean that he is not held accountable. It seems that he is not held to the same standard of scrutiny as other players and we are paying a steep price for that.

For a start, including last night's game against Ipswich, he is too often out of position, remaining forward and failing to track back. It is as if he expects the rest of the midfield to do the hard graft. This in total contrast to someone like Julien Faubert who is all over the pitch every second that he is on it.

We are starting to get overrun in midfield, regardless of what formation we play. This will allow any good passing team, especially one with the likes of Bullard and Edwards, to pass us off the park. And when he has tracked back, at times he just seems simply too slow. Is this down to fitness or did Alan Pardew and Newcastle see something that we did not?

When we have possession, where are Nolanís runs into the box? Where is his movement? All too often he looks frozen like a statue, content to perhaps use his brawn and physical strength to give him an edge. Does he ever look a threat in the oppositionís box? Rarely. Then how can he justify remaining in such an advanced position so often,exposing the rest of our midfield?

The next thing is the man's finishing. He has missed a number of very presentable chances this season, notably against Forest, which fortunately did not cost us. We spent a lot of money on this player and are paying him very high wages. His immobility would be less of a liability if found the back of the net.

Nolan also has a nasty habit of arguing the toss with referees and linesmen to absolutely no effect. This was most evident against Peterbrough. Alll that this does is galvanize opposition supporters and players. It makes him and us look weak, as if we are babies throwing our toys out of the pram.

A captain should maintain his discipline and keep his head, and on a number of occasions he has already failed to do so. Is it any wonder that fools like Piquionne get themselves sent off when our own captain's discipline in in doubt at times? Being passionate and determined is not about yelling at referees.

Our Achilles heel remains our defence of set pieces, which is woeful. It's no coincidence that Bowyerís winner resulted from a corner. Time and again when we concede corners we look very vulnerable; there is no excuse for this given the experience and physical presence we have.

Yet part of this is down to the captain, not just the manager. Surely the captain, first and foremost, must ensure that we are well organized in such situations. And if the opposition has one player who is clearly pulling the strings, especially a midfielder like Bullard, then surely the captain has to galvanize the troops to close that player down and deny him time and space.

Finally, the dying minutes of a game is when you expect senior players to stand up and be counted. To be professional and see it out. In particular the captain. You expect all eleven players to be fully switched on and not lacking an ounce of concentration. And who should be marshalling the troops in those key final minutes? Nolan, of course.

Then why do we continue to concede not only late goals at the Boleyn Ground that have cost us a total of four points against Cardiff, Leeds and Ipswich? Clearly the captain of the side bears some responsibility for this, especially given the scrappy, sloppy nature of some of these goals. Itís not like we are conceding to great strikes or great build-up. The nature of the goals we are conceding late in games is incredibly poor.

Nolan clearly isnít the quickest of players. Nor is he a spring chicken. He canít squeeze blood out of a stone. But surely he can put in more committed and determined performances than he has thus far,and surely he can make better use of his vast experience than he has thus far in a West Ham shirt?

Itís sad to say, but this is the worst I have seen Nolan play in his career. Is that what happens when you give a player a juicy long-term deal and make him captain? Our current league position masks how poor Nolan has been this season. But our points tally of just four points from the last nine available exposes exactly how limited his contribution has been.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Jonny
06:16PM 4th Oct 2011
''I totally agree with some of what Mike says. I actually think Mark Noble is a very average player he takes ages on the ball when the quick passing and thinking could lead us in to an opportunity only for the opposition to be on us once more. He tries to hold on to the ball like Parker could, but he can't. He can't tackle, he gives a foul away each time he dives in.

Given the choice if I had to choose over Nolan or Noble I would go for Nolan every time. Dn't forget he's contributed to some vital moments. Big deal, Noble scores a few penalties. Nolan might look casual but at least he does the business, if it wasn't for him away at Doncaster we wouldn't have had the three points. I couldn't see Noble scoring.

However I don't think that Nolan should be captain at all. I would give the armband to James Tomkins.''

by Bomber
06:08AM 2nd Oct 2011
''Very evident from the comments above where the problem lies...probably represents a good cross-section of our supporter-base who regularly attend games.... from my end, Nolan was a good get and worked well with BFS in the past, but I don't go to games and only see a snapshot on the box. Perhaps cut & paste and send to BFS... surely couldn't hurt? ''

by kayahammer
01:09AM 1st Oct 2011
''I agree about Faubert. I have always liked him and thought he was given a rough ride when asked to play right back (he is a winger after all).

As for Nolan, Sam obviously sees his merits, and we are still gelling as a side. Although he could do with a kick up the backside and be told to track back a bit more. Lansbury shows him up though, young and energetic with bags of ideas when in possession.

We'll beat Palace with Nolan scoring and everyone will get positive again.''

by Sean Tyla
04:27PM 30th Sep 2011
''Great analysis by Gary. I wholeheartedly agree. The player is worthless, virtually and he is dragging the team down with him. Now Greeny is out for six weeks and with no quality right back available, defence is a critical issue. I guess Julian will fill in. Give Noble the armband and drop Coley in behind Baldock.

Taylor/Collinson/Noble/Lansbury across the middle. Give Nolan a long holiday and get shot of him in January. 4-4-1-1 let's go!''

by DB
01:00PM 30th Sep 2011
''Yes, we are currently in striking distance of automatic promotion. Have given up points in the last minutes of the games, ususally on set peices, and have been behind in matches a total of what? 10 minutes all season. We must blame the Captain.''

by Neil Copeman
10:00PM 29th Sep 2011
''Couldn't agree more with this article. The game seems to pass Nolan by far too easily.''

by SiDSnOt
04:41PM 29th Sep 2011
''I couldnt think of a worse combo. Big Sam's 'don't concede', 'bore them off the pich' fooball philospy and Kevin 'now you see me, now you don't' Nolan.

He went missing for ages during Toon games and didn't score many after Carroll left. I honestly think he'll keep you down and hamper your chances in the future. Youve got him for four years on massive wages, nobody will buy him off you so you have effectivly bought another Dyer.''

by M
04:16PM 29th Sep 2011
''Sorry chaps, but we've (NUFC) pulled a bit of a fast one on you here - Nolan's goals concealed a multitude of sins last year. He's soooooo slow - both in sprint speed and movement, his touch is ordinary, his passing dodgy.... what he does do is have a knack for popping up in the right place at the right time for tap-ins ( well, finishes in the six yard box).''

by john y
03:34PM 29th Sep 2011
''Nolan took a good half a season to settle for Newcastle before he started last season with a bang. Sadly I doubt him carrying a knock will make much difference. He's a good guy and a good captain, but I think this and his goals tally paper over the cracks a little. He isn't athletic or quick enough to play centre midfield so to accomodate him we had either Tiote playing out of his skin and picking up bookings because we were overrun or him playing up front and not contributing alot.

He will always score goals as he comes alive in the box, but he won't ever be covering every blade of grass. Good guy and decent player but a big gamble giving him a long term deal if your ambition is to be in the Premier League for the next few years.''

by hector
01:31PM 29th Sep 2011
''I live in the north east and one of my friends who is a Newcastle season ticket holder says that most Toon fans regarded Nolan as overweight and slow.''

by Mike
01:12PM 29th Sep 2011
''Complete overreation. Let's not forget he had a rather major ankle op in the summer and much like Collison after his knee injury is probably still feeling his way back into things.

No mention anywhere of the goals he has contributed just his misses, the improved team spirit under his captaincy also failes ot get a mention.

Maybe he should start taking all the penalties like Noble does to hide his more average games.''

by ElHammer
12:50PM 29th Sep 2011
''Having watched every home game this season, I would totally aqree with these comments.

Nolan has been the worst player on the pitch by a country mile. He barely gets out the centre circle and with him playing at the top of a diamond/second striker it is forcing Noble to play deeper as a defensive midfielder (when Noble's main strength is creating chances/his final ball (hence there has been very little chances of late).

The Midfield also lacks width with Nolan in the side as the players in the wide positions are always being forced in field to cover the hole left by Nolan when he fails to track back (versus Ipswich Baldock was having to play right wing to cover).

On Tuesday night vs Ipswich, Nolan was too busy gassing in our penalty area and failed to close down/mark when Bowyer/Ipswich scored. He's clearly unfit and not in form and needs to spend a while on the bench regardless of whether he's Captain or not. This will show to the rest of the squad that nobody is untouchable!

Big shame we let Stanislas go I say, he would have done a much better job.''

by 50pence
11:29AM 29th Sep 2011
''Our best start in 28 ruddy years and now we want to sack the captain, stick the knife into Sam's ample gut AND drop Cole for Carew or Pickyhead! Mmmm.. strange days indeed.''

by Lee baldwin
11:15AM 29th Sep 2011
''I think were all being a very harsh blaming Nolan, he plays behind a striker yet we playing him deep next to Noble with Lansbury playing higher up the park! Look at Frank Lampard at the moment, he's being played deeper and is having the same problem. Play Lansbury next to Noble and get on the ball then let Nolan play in that little pocket in behind centre forward.''

by RB
08:34AM 29th Sep 2011
''Wholeheartedly agree. What Nolan offers as a leader is more than offset by his lack of mobility, lack of discipline and lack of effort. Tuesday evening we were easily exposed by the intelligent play of an equally immobile jimmy Bullard, yet a player possessing a footballing brain. Noble and Lansbury were fighting a losing cause with little or no support from both Nolan and Bentley, who seem to see think it's enough to live on past glories.

Bentley must've had more possession than any other west Ham player yet continually failed to deliver anything of quality. True, you could blame the strike force for failing to anticipate his crosses, but on every occasion? I think not.

The Championship is a fast moving, tough division where our opponents are quick to close down, we cannot afford any passengers...BFS, look at the writing on the wall!''

by freddie shepherd
02:42PM 28th Sep 2011
''When Nolan was at Newcastle he ticked all of the right boxes. Although his pace was a problem, he always gave 100 per cent. I`m surprised that you question his effort and he definately galvanised the rest of the team. I hope things work out for him with you because I respect what he did for us and hope he helps you back to the Premier League where you deserve to be.''

by Benfleet Hammer
02:39PM 28th Sep 2011
''Totally agree with you, it's a shame big Sam doesnt see it. Or at least won't do anything about it.''

by sibbo
02:31PM 28th Sep 2011
''Nolan is a liability...''

by Benfleet Hammer
02:28PM 28th Sep 2011
''I totally agree with you, it's a shame big Sam doesnt see it. Or at least won't do anything about it.''

by Neil
01:23PM 28th Sep 2011
''Good account of the problem. Nolan was very poor last night but I can't help finding the manager more accountable in deciding to play him there.

Nolan is not fit, offers very little and unfortunately Big Sam is trying to build a team around him. Not easy when he resembles a statue for most of it. I would not question Nolan's commitment etc but quite frankly he is an average player and surely we cannot rely on this man to pull the strings.

I also feel for Sam B who was played out of position. A fox in the box with pace and stuck on the right wing for most of last night's game.''

by Craig arteeee
01:13PM 28th Sep 2011
''We simply cannot play Nolan when two strikers are playing, especially if Lansbury is also in the team. I personally would have preferred Faubert to start instead of Nolan, or Collison if he is available.

Disappointed, as I thought Nolan would be our star player but he has turned out to be our downfall [so far]. I'd like to know how much distance Nolan and C. Cole cover in a game. I heard that BFS was all for modern training so he should check it out!''

by geoff
01:13PM 28th Sep 2011
''Spot on. He could stop us going up. Big Sam will never sub him. Very, very worrying.''

by John Pritchard
12:57PM 28th Sep 2011
''Absolutely spot on. Nolan has gone from being a name you didnt want to see on the Bolton teamsheet to a player I was surprised/delighted we had been able to sign, to frankly being almost as poor an example as Upson as captain.

All this 'calm down' gesturing and being stranded in no man's land is not up to the mark. Last night, he watched Collison try to fend off three players, barely yards away, and did nothing but watch. Noble must have been knackered at match end covering for him and what with Bentley being a big girl, all pose and little cutting edge, Lansbury was the only midfielder we had free to play. So no wonder we were taken apart again by the ever-excellent Bullard.

From the first five minutes last night we were going to lose that match, not all that from Sam about losing it in the last five. Tomkins and Faye were superb, Cole should never have been subbed, shame Lansbury had to go as as a precaution against a red card. Having only just scraped through against Peterborough these few alone were good enough last night - and we got caught out again. Two losses in nine matches, both at home; only six more out of the remaining 37 seems a big ask this morning.''

by GS
12:33PM 28th Sep 2011
''I'm a Toon fan and it was obvious Nolan was on the wane. His sale did divide the Toon army but we are now starting to play a lot more fluid football. Once Carroll left and there was no knock downs for Nolan, he was largely ineffective.

Sam allardyce should have learnt - he bought an aging Geremi on huge money from Chelsea with similar results, despite a warning from Sir Bobby who had been tipped off by Mourinho, no less. It's not his money though is it - same old Fat Sam.

He'll talk himself up when you win and the team down when you lose. I fear you may be in the Championship longer than you think.''

by kuul
12:31PM 28th Sep 2011
''At last. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one seeing Nolan's disappearance from the team.''

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