Our captain, Kevin Nolan has to be one of the most confusing players I’ve seen in the claret and blue of West Ham.
It appears that every game I go to there is someone that accuses Nolan of being lazy, overweight and completely useless in every way. I never like criticising our players but everyone is entitled to their opinion and in some games I can see where they come from. There have been times where Nolan looks slow, gives the ball away and doesn’t track back.
There is no question that his footballing ability is not the best, I’m sure Nolan himself would admit that, but even when he looks like a pub league player, and all you want is for him to be dropped his importance to our team can never be questioned.
He can go unnoticed for most of the game but when we need a goal, or a moment of inspiration, it is more often than not Nolan, the lazy, useless player that provides it. Four times Nolan has scored the winner in a 1-0 win since signing for the club, as well as scoring nine other times from midfield. And this is where I think some fans, including myself until recently, misunderstand what Nolan brings to the pitch.
He is a goal scorer and fits out system superbly. He lives on the scraps and crosses that the rest of the team provide. He doesn’t run as much as others but then why does he need to when Diame and Noble are behind him? Even Carlton Cole does some of Nolan’s running but the team seem happy to do so as they know Nolan is capable of winning a match. His goals could be the difference between relegation and safety, or just staying up and finishing mid table. And for this reason, he is vital for us this season.
I’m a Nolan fan, as you can probably tell, and just think it’s refreshing to have a goal-scoring midfielder. Who was our last player that consistently scored from centre midfield? Big Sam has recently compared Nolan with David Platt, probably a bit excessive comparing the captain to an England legend but I see what Big Sam means. Like Platt, Nolan has that knack of ghosting into the box and being in the right place at the right time.
Beyond his goals there is another reason why Nolan is such an important member of the team. His leadership. Kevin Nolan is a natural leader, a great professional, a family man and is a great role model for the younger members of the squad.
David Gold has before said that he has never seen one player unite a dressing room as well as Nolan can. The 30-year-old may be Mr Nice off the pitch but on it he is the player that other team’s supporters hate, something we’ve not had for a while. He is always in the referees’ ear. Granted it’s not nice to watch but it’s needed in the modern game. All the top teams have a player in the ref’s ear all game and get decisions.
There is no denying he is limited with the ball, unattractive to watch and lacks vision and imagination with the ball but bizarrely he is one of the most important players we’ve had. I suppose that’s just the enigma of Kevin Nolan.