Captain Nolan goes into West Ham record books
West Ham skipper Kevin Nolan made it double figures for the season on Saturday to become top scorer for the Hammers this season
When Kevin Nolan stole in front of a defender, lofted the ball over Burnley keeper Lee Grant and into the net on Saturday at Turf Moor he put himself into the West Ham record books.
It was the 29-year-old’s 10th goal of the campaign, the third time in as many seasons he has managed 10 or more strikes and he became the first West Ham midfielder to notch double figures since Frank Lampard hit 14 in 1999/2000.
Four of Lampard’s goals that season came in European competition, while Nolan has scored every one of his in league action and it would have been 11 had he not been denied what looked a perfectly good goal in the first half of Saturday’s 2-2 draw.
Whatever you might think of Nolan’s contribution on the field, you certainly cannot argue with his ability to hit the net for the Hammers, but the fact that he is now the top scorer in a promotion-chasing team with just 10 is perhaps the reason why West Ham are struggling to get over the line for automatic promotion.
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The skipper is well aware that it is a serious problem for the team in the crucial run-in.
“We have made it hard for ourselves because the chances we are creating we are not putting in the back of the net,” said Nolan after Saturday’s draw.
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“I think today we had 11 or 12 shots on target and they were very good chances, they were not shots from 40 yards out.
“From now until the end of the season we have got to start scoring those chances otherwise we are putting massive pressure on our back four, who have been fabulous.
“They can’t keep on keeping clean sheets because we are only scoring one goal.”
West Ham went behind on 25 minutes on Saturday, but it looked like they had hit back just seconds later when Nolan got on the end of Jack Collison’s cross to head home, only for the goal to be ruled out by the referee.
“I spoke to the referee and he said from where he was standing he thought it was a free kick,” said the skipper.
“I did put my hand on the lad’s back, but I didn’t think it was enough to suggest that I had pushed him out of the way. I did really think I had got it as you could see by my celebration and everything, but it wasn’t to be.”
Nolan knows the pressure is now firmly on his team and he thinks that is partly due to the reputation that West Ham have as a club.
“We probably should have won a lot more games that we have drawn in the last few weeks, but that is the way it is,” he explained.
“We are West Ham United, teams are going to hang on, teams are going to battle away as much as they can against us to make sure they get a result, because it is fantastic for them.
“You see the way teams celebrate when they beat us, you see the way they react getting a draw from us and it is something that we have had to learn to deal with and that has happened from day one of this season.”
If it continues to happen, then the chances are that the Hammers will not fulfil their potential and make it back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Then, like Leeds United, it will be nothing special to play against West Ham United, the team who used to be a Premier League club.