Tony Cottee’s column: Kevin Nolan is a true captain

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Tony CotteeTony Cottee is back with his EXCLUSIVE Forever West Ham column. Read about Tony’s thoughts on playing with Alan Devonshire, Hammers captain Kevin Nolan and much, much more.

League Cup 

I was surprised by Big Sam’s comments that he would take a day out at Wembley and Capital One Cup success over Premier League points. I was surprised because this just doesn’t seem like a Sam type of thing to say or do, especially considering one of the criticisms he’s faced, during his time at West Ham, is that he doesn’t take the domestic cups seriously enough.

The Burnley result was superb, it was great for the likes of Leo Chambers and Pelly Ruddock to get some game time and overall we can take a lot of positives from the victory.

I think, and I’m sure most will agree, you wouldn’t have been surprised to see us lose the Burnley game because, lets be honest, the League Cup hasn’t been the kindest of competitions to us.

Tottenham Hotspur in the next round is a fantastic draw and one I’m already excited for, although, I have to say, I’m slightly gutted we didn’t get a home draw as playing at Upton Park really lifts the side.

From the quarter-finals, managers tend to take the competition more seriously and there is no reason why we can’t go all the way. Come the Spurs game we should have Big Andy back and fully fit and the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea don’t have the easiest of draws, so who knows what will happen.

I have a huge affection for the League Cup because, not only did it give me my one and only winners medal, but I also found the back of the net regularly.

In 1999, Leicester lost the League Cup final to Spurs and I was 33-years-old and I thought: “Well, that’s it for my chances of silverware.” Amazingly, the following season we made the final again, this time against Tranmere Rovers and, well, the rest is history.

Winston Reid

Recently, I’ve been seeing reports that Winston Reid is wanted by Arsenal and that is no surprise, Winston is a top defender. The reported figure is about £6 million, now, every player has their price but I have to say, Winston’s is a lot more than £6 million.

West Ham are currently building towards a bright future and I believe that Sam Allardyce sees Winston as crucial to that development.

Too many times we’ve sold our best players and stalled our growth as a club but now, with Winston, it is time to make a signal of intent and hold onto one of our prized assets.

In modern football, a player cares about trophies and European football, as they can earn a decent wage at pretty much any Premier League club. Winston can no doubt see the Hammers are slowly creeping onto the next level, so why would he leave?

Furthermore, James Tomkins has been in inspired form of late and is building a great partnership with Reid and one I want to see for years to come.

Kevin Nolan

I know Kevin has come in for some criticism lately and I understand where the fans are coming from but there are two aspects to Kevin.

Firstly, it is the side the fans don’t see, as off the field and around the training ground Kevin is a true captain. He organises, he offers advice to the younger players and, most importantly, he is respected.

The other aspect is his contribution on the pitch and Kevin doesn’t need me, you or anyone else to tell him that this hasn’t been his best start to a season but all players go through poor spells.

You can’t underestimate the influence Andy Carroll has on Kevin’s performances, the two have a great understanding and I don’t doubt, when Andy is back, we will see Kevin return to top form.

Alan Devonshire

I always get asked: “Who is the best player you played with?” and, without a moments hesitation, I always say “Alan Devonshire”.

People always respond with “But what about the likes of Trevor Brooking?” and, don’t get me wrong, Trevor was up there with the best I played with but, for me, Alan takes it.

I was a left sided forward and Alan played left midfield and we had a great understanding and partnership down that flank and particularly in the 1985-86 season, Alan was sensational; it is just a shame that, due to injury, he lost 18 months of his career.

Despite what I’ve said about Alan, if you ask Tony Gale, he will tell you that he was the best player I played with! 

Tony Cottee was talking to Forever West Ham’s Editor

Tony’s book ‘West Ham: The Inside Story’ is out NOW and you can order a SIGNED copy from

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  • Spence55 says:

    Tony…Kevin Nolans “poor spell” is now way longer than his “decent spell”…Just how long do you wait ????

  • RVT 12 says:

    Like the column but regarding Kevin Nolan. To be an influence as a club captain doesn’t mean you have to be playing 90 minutes every game. In fact I would go as far to say that on the pitch, Nolan’s behaviour as a captain isn’t particularly good. He is lazy coming back from offside positions and shouts a hell of a lot at everyone else. I have no doubt he is well respected and is a great influence off the pitch but from an outside perspective (which I understand is not that easy to judge from) I am not convinced his captaincy abilities on the field are irreplaceable.
    His relationship with Carroll is very over hyped. Anyone can score goals when you are playing off a big striker like Carroll. If you put someone else in the side and say goal hang and get in to the right positions in the box so Andy can set you up they would score just as many. Also, Kevin Nolan’s finishing is absolutely terrible, twice in three weeks, he has missed the target from less than 6 yards which is unacceptable for a sunday league player let alone a PL player. His form as a whole has been unimpressive and him being in the side actually makes us a worse side as when he is not scoring (and actively missing easy chances) he offers little else.

  • hammer says:

    Tony cottee has more respect than any so called fans that continually slag off nolanhe is without doubt best captain we have had in recent years yea hes not playing well but doesnt deserve the continual slagging he receives

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