March 13 2014 Latest news:
Dave Evans, West Ham correspondent
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Skipper is back on the scoresheet
After a barren run of 16 games without a goal, West Ham skipper Kevin Nolan finally broke that run on Saturday with a typical strike in the box.
There were 67 minutes gone when Mark Noble’s cross was headed down by Modibo Maiga and Nolan was quickest to react to thump the ball into the roof of the net and make it 3-2.
So was it a relief for Nolan to hit the net again? He says not.
“It is not relief,” he insisted. “If I score five goals then that is great if it gets us the points we need.
“But it is not about scoring goals and reaching 10 a season, if they don’t mean anything to the team.
“Against West Brom, the goal meant something because it got us a vital point, though it should have been three.”
He may not say it, but that goal on Saturday must have taken a huge weight off the shoulders of the captain, who has been substituted regularly recently and has also suffered the wrath of some of the West Ham faithful.
“I was delighted with the goal,” said the 31-year-old. “At the end of the day, if people want to boo and give me stick, I have just got to blank it out.
“I have got a load of lads in the dressing room who will back me to the hilt, a great backroom staff and a great family, they are the people I have been leaning on at this tough time.”
It certainly has been tough. Aside from those 16 games without a goal, he has also struggled to keep pace with many games and was sent off at Liverpool.
“That’s life,” he said. “I have just got to get on with it and I have to keep going and try and get back on the scoresheet, keep putting in performances and hopefully those boos will go away.”
Clearly, Nolan has been helped by the return of the striker to the West Ham team with Carlton Cole and Modibo Maiga both partnering Nolan on Saturday.
The midfielder set up Maiga for his goal before the striker returned the compliment for Nolan’s strike.
“There is no doubt about it, I have lived off strikers all my career,” admitted Nolan.
“I have played in some different positions and been asked to do a few different tasks this season, but Modibo has come on and been fantastic and I thought ‘Coley’ was brilliant against Arsenal.
“I have managed to start getting chances and I am delighted with that.
“I have had chances, there is no doubt about it, and my own personal performances are not what I expected of myself, but it hasn’t happened and you just have to get on with it.
“I know the chances will keep coming and I have to make sure that they start hitting the back of the net.” he added.
Despite the poor results and league position, something that does come through is that this squad is very much together and much of that is to do with the influence of Nolan.
“One of the main problems is the injuries, but the spirit is showing through,” said the inspirational skipper.
“That was more like it against West Brom, getting in people’s faces and playing good football and to be honest I feel disappointed that the goal wasn’t a winning one.
“I thought we didn’t get what we deserved on Boxing Day against Arsenal and again against West Brom, but hopefully things will turn around in the new year.”
Nolan knows there is a big task ahead of him and his team, but he thinks they are up to the task.
“We believe in what we are doing, but sometimes the fans are going to get anxious and have a go, but we can’t let that effect us.
“We have got the January transfer window coming where the chairmen have said they are going to back the manager which is fantastic for him and for us.
“It will give us a lift to see some new faces and have the boys coming back from injury.”
“We need to stick together because I believe the tables will turn. I am just hoping that a new year will bring new luck and that is what I am going to be asking for.”
One bit of luck that the squad and in particular Nolan needs is the long-awaited return of club record signing Andy Carroll and the sklpper can’t wait to see him in claret and blue again.
“There is no doubt about it, when we are together we score a lot of goals and cause a lot of problems,” said Nolan who managed 10 to Carroll’s seven strikes last season as the Hammers were tenth.
“The big man will hopefully be back within the month and we will be seeing that, but we have got a bit of time before that can start happening.
“I am just glad that I could play off Modibo and ‘Coley’ against West Brom.”
So are the West Ham fans and now they want to see the return of the old, goalscoring Kevin Nolan to kick-start the new year..