What does West Ham’s 69 Premier League goal ace offer?

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Kevin Nolan West Ham EvertonIt’s no secret that West Ham have strengthened their team tremendously this season. One of our best areas for improvement is our midfield, where new acquisitions Cheikhou Kouyate, Alex Song, and Morgan Amalfitano have done well to break into an established team, and bring new life – and a far greater points tally – to West Ham United.
With this now crowded midfield – which may soon have Darren Fletcher in its ranks also – what does it mean for our veteran players? In particular, what does it mean for our captain, Kevin Nolan? After all – what does Kevin Nolan offer to the side now, if anything?
Truthfully, I’m not a Kevin Nolan fan. I’m sorry, but I’m not. I think he’s normally about six paces too slow – unless he’s moving into an offside position, which he does regularly and at great speed. I’ve long complained about his guaranteed dominance in our midfield regardless of performance, and so the signing of so many new midfielders seemed like a godsend for the club. I have been delighted at the level of competition which players now face for a starting position, and thought that this competition was the beginning of the end of Kevin Nolan’s playing career.
However, rather than end Nolan’s career, said competition has served well to bring the captain into a new role for the Hammers.
We’re now not relying on Nolan for 90 minutes in every game, which gives us greater and more concentrated bursts of energy in his performances. He’s been impactful as a sub in many games this season, bringing with him a surprising energy and attacking premise – consider the Manchester United game in which we thought Nolan had levelled at 89 minutes (only for the goal to be dubiously ruled offside.) He’s also put in strong performances against West Brom (away) and Sunderland.  
Nolan’s still moving into positions in which he could score from, and whilst the Nolan overhead bicycle kick hasn’t been successful yet, he might actually put one of those in the net one day. He’s still managed a goal and an assist for West Ham this season – nothing compared to last year, but we’ve got a plethora of actual strikers to rely on to score goals. Good news all around.
I admit that I actively don’t like our team when Nolan, Mark Noble and Alex Song are all on the pitch – there’s too many cooks in the kitchen – but lax performances from Song and Noble have made Nolan look oddly decent of late. While the Hull game was painful watching, it wasn’t a bad game for Kevin.
I’m still not crazy about the type of football we play when we rely too heavily on the Nolan – Andy Carroll partnership, but a team in which Nolan is worrying less about running the midfield and looking more towards moving the ball forward and being an absolute nuisance for keepers and defenders with his often irritating positioning and aggression is one I’m interested in watching.
Kevin Nolan is not our best player – not by a long shot. I’m not even sure he’d make my top ten – but he does bring something to the side. He’s still captain for a reason and he’s led his team to be four points off of a Champions League place and into the 5th Round of the FA Cup. Kevin’s not the player he used to be, but the player he’s grown into now still has something to offer to West Ham United.
What do you make of Kevin Nolan this season? Do you think he’s still offering anything to West Ham? Let us know below.

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1 comment

  • james says:

    i agree that several below par performers and Kevin upping his game and doing what he is best at, keeping it simple, have made him look worthy of a place. Now Mark Noble has more to fear from Kouyate being back from AFCON, which i would have found laughable a month ago. Kevin brings determination, good 5-20 yard passing, good football brain, decent shot and leadership. Sadly he also brings a lack of pace.

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