West Ham boss defends Nolan’s red card tackle

Hammers manager Sam Allardyce believes that it was the wrong decision to send off his skipper on Saturday

It was the pivotal moment of Saturday’s derby showdown and it came after just nine minutes.

Skipper Kevin Nolan had shown he was up for this match from the opening whistle when he raced after the ball like a demented wasp chasing an ice lolly.

But when he challenged for a loose ball with Millwall’s Jack Smith, he did it with both feet off the ground and could easily, however unintentional it clearly was, caused a serious injury.

Referee Mick Jones is no friend of the Hammers, as anyone who saw the FA Cup quarter-final clash at Stoke will testify to, but he was surely spot on when he gave Nolan a straight red card.

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It may have been a derby clash, it may have been after just nine minutes, but if the challenge had come from a Millwall player then surely most of the crowd would have been crying out for a sending off.

Manager Sam Allardyce is a loyal man and has a particular loyalty to a player who has been his skipper at Bolton, Newcastle and now West Ham, but his defence of the player was simply not right.

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“I didn’t think it was a red card,” he said. “I thought he was in control of himself. He wasn’t over vigorous; he hadn’t left the ground after; his left foot was nowhere near the player who was coming in from the side.

“The right foot went through the ball, then caught the player,” he insisted.

Having studied the replays, Allardyce’s case for his player simply doesn’t hold up and he chose to develop the argument rather than further defend his skipper.

“He is very upset, I am upset. It looks like the referees are told to red it aren’t they? They are told to give every one a red by the looks of it, I don’t think he has got any other choice.”

He continued: “That is not the worst tackle in the game as I keep telling everbody. The worst tackle is the lad that turns to the side and goes over the top of the ball and stays on his feet – they never send anybody off for that one.”

He certainly has a point with that and the fashion for red cards does seem to be escalating at the moment.

“If they are going to keep redding them, then every week we are going to have 10 v 11 and nobody wants that,” he said.

True, but that doesn’t mean that players should get away with fouls like the one Nolan committed on Saturday.

So, if the manager really thought it wasn’t a red card, then surely he would appeal the decision? Actually, no.

“I am not so sure we can consider it because the way the referees are told today, it would be frivolous for me to think they are going to overturn it,” explained the West Ham boss.

“They won’t will they? Whether it is or it isn’t. There are far too many instructions going out to the referees to do it.

“The refs are scared stiff of not giving a red and saying ‘well, I thought that was a good tackle’ and then still getting criticised, which is wrong.”

Maybe, but what would have been more wrong is if Nolan had got away with that tackle.

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