What a difference four games makes: Four clean sheets, 10 points, and three wins on the spin, the doom and gloom around the Boleyn has been lifted and the Hammers are on the rise. I wrote in my last column how important this month would be, and three wins out of three has been the perfect answer to the fears I had.
I concluded that piece hoping we could get 12 points out of 12 and that dream could well be turning into reality this weekend. This upturn in fortunes is largely thanks to key players stepping up and players coming back from injury. Three players who have really stepped upto the plate are midfield duo Matthew Taylor and Mark Noble as well as James Collins who alongside James Tomkins have been rocks at the back.
But there is one man in particular who has certainly hit some form this month – Kevin Nolan. In previous articles for Blowing Bubbles, I have slated him and called for him to be dropped. I must admit his antics at Anfield and Craven Cottage left me fuming, but he has answered his critics with fine captain’s displays against first Swansea, where he linked up with his old buddy Andy Carroll to bag a brace. Then away at Aston Villa where he once again bagged a brace, this time without his partner in crime, proving that he can play without the big man.
After the Villa game he came out and told the press that he felt he had a lot of making up to do to his teammates, fans and management staff, after the “lowest point of his playing career”. Four goals in two games is a great start Kev. The evidence is there for all to see, when the skipper is happy and performing well, so does the team and it gives the club a real lift.
Kevin Nolan needs this club, and his recent performances have not only proved me wrong, but the West Ham faithful who have doubted him, the club needs him. I have called him lazy and predictable far too often in Blowing Bubbles, but his hassling and harrying in recent weeks has shown how hard he has worked on his fitness in the gym whilst he endured his “hell” on the side line after his stupid red cards.
His four goals in two games saw him climb to top of the top goal scorer charts to six goals, somewhere the West Ham fans have expected to see him be after he finished top goal scorer last season. If he is happy then West Ham are happy and bang in form. His rise in fortunes have seen the club go unbeaten in four and up to the dizzy heights of 11th place in the league, and you could see when Diame broke away in the last minute to seal the win against Norwich that the team spirit at the club is at an all time high.
Mo was mobbed by his team mates as his deflected shot sealed the Hammers third consecutive win. My first change in thought pattern about Nolan came as I was watching the Cardiff game and Nolan was barking out instructions on the sidelines despite being suspended and no real need to be out in the Wales rain.
But there he was lifting up Joey Cole as the second goal from Noble flew in. It was that moment that made me realise just how much West Ham United actually meant to the Liverpool-born man. Our midfield, a mixture of English heart and passion has also seen a rise in fortunes in recent weeks. The centre midfield duo of Noble and Taylor has seen the Hammers repel everything thrown at them, with Matty Taylor putting his body on the line time after time
Then there is the ever reliable Mark Noble, who is improving every time I see him, his eye for a pass is second to none. Stewart Downing and Matt Jarvis are improving all the time, with both English wingers growing in confidence with every win, and the aforementioned Kevin Nolan, the midfield is looking stronger than ever. It says a lot when internationals like Nocerino and Diame can’t get into the starting line-up .
With Carroll’s return just one game away, things are looking rosy for the Hammers, and it is refreshing to have that feel good factor back at the club. Here is hoping it continues for the foreseeable future and we continue to pull away from danger.