(Paul's had his say
- here's my 2p's worth...)
So, in amongst those doing the Cockney walk there'll be someone doing the chicken. Both the decision to sell Kevin Nolan and his destination are dumbfounding.
The Scouser's goals from midfield over the past two seasons have proven absolutely crucial to our revival in fortunes. One of the most significant reasons for our relegation was that, with our much-vaunted strikeforce chronically misfiring, no one from the centre of the park stepped into the breach (Nolan included). Not only does his departure place immediate pressure on Alan Pardew and his team of scouts to source an adequate replacement (who surely won't come cheap and will take time to settle), but in all likelihood it also places greater responsibility on what is, by Premier League standards, already a weak attack.
Much too has been made of Nolan's off-pitch role. While I'd stop short of claiming (as Paul did) that he's always "a strong positive influence off the field
" (just think back to Orgygate
, for instance), he was clearly well liked in the dressing room and was instrumental in galvanising the team for the promotion push and then top-flight survival.
However, though such endeavours may have been for the benefit of the club, Jabba seems to have taken a rather dimmer view. Our esteemed owner clearly didn't take kindly to having his actions questioned in the wake of Chris Hughton's sacking (that dismissal allegedly partly because our ex-gaffer was too pally and easily manipulated by the senior players) and appears hell-bent on dismantling the players' committee - even it means showing the door to our club captain and top scorer. We might have to start calling him Iron Mike soon.
Jabba's prime motivation was supposedly financial, of course - and you have to say that Nolan's slightly cheeky demand for a five-year contract will have only steeled the owner's will to play hard ball and handed him a ready-made excuse to dispense with him. Whatever the reasons behind the sale, one thing's for certain: it wasn't a footballing decision.
And so to the ramifications. Quite apart from the need to relieve the sudden goalscoring burden on other members of the squad, Pardew also faces trying to quell genuine mutiny, with ASBO blurting out his dismay on Twitter and intimating that he, Jose Enrique and Spidermag would be next out of the door. His subsequent retraction - full of stuff about wanting to stay and win trophies with us - was less convincing than that infamous 'tache, and even if he did fancy staying and seeing out the final year of his contract Jabba will presumably be even more inclined to boot him out as a dressing room rabble-rouser. In his determination to reassert his authority and control, our owner seems to be showing scant regard for the damage he might be inflicting on the club.
And what of Nolan's new employers? As he pointedly remarked after signing, it was nice to know he was wanted - and by Fat Sam, a former manager he already knows well. But it's still curious that a player who still clearly has a lot to offer at the highest level should have voluntarily chosen to step down into the Championship. Our loss is the Hammers' gain, and it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see them back in the top flight before long, propelled there in part by Nolan's knack for goalscoring.
Labels: kevin nolan, transfer window, west ham