Why Newcastle United Miss Kevin Nolan
In the last two years we have seen several players pulling on the captain’s armband.
Coloccini’s personal problems and injuries, have forced him to pass the baton on to the likes of Cabaye, Tiote, Ameobi, Gutierrez and Harper to name but a few, and I cannot help but feel our last truly influential captain was Kevin Nolan.
Chicken dancing aside, in his short two year stint he certainly made his presence known on Tyneside and helped lift the club from its darkest moment in over a decade after their relegation to the Championship.
Nolan, with help from other senior players such as Joey Barton, Alan Smith, Nicky Butt and Steve Harper held an emergency players meeting after our 6-1 pre-season horror show against Leyton Orient in 2009. I can’t help but ask the question, who of our current players would show the same level of responsibility and passion for the club?
What followed, was our most unified team in black and white for years with the spine of the side understanding the traditions and pressures that comes hand in hand in playing for Newcastle. Nothing highlighted this more than the 5-1 drubbing of Sunderland.
It is hard to dispute the reasoning in not offering Nolan a contract which would take him into his mid thirties, especially when you consider he was never blessed with blistering pace, even as a youngster. It is also understandable that we were attempting to build a younger, more technically gifted squad but I feel the club underestimated the influence, both on and off the field, a natural leader like Nolan can give.
In Pardew’s words, Nolan was sacrificed to allow our new technical players to develop a new style of play. Better passing, quicker counter attacks and in general…more success. However, we don’t seem to have witnessed such a style, in fact Nolan would probably have thrived on the direct tactics of last season.
You don’t see many captains opening their home up to the most ill behaved member of the squad in an attempt to change his habits. From a recent 5 Live feature, he explained how he has put an arm around the shoulder of Ravel Morrison. You only need to see the recent performances of the controversial young midfielder to see how this has helped.
Nolan could often be heard at St James, bellowing instructions and support for his teammates, dragging them through the dirt in tight situations. He often made unselfish runs and toed the line with the rules, doing the “doggy” work for his team. I can’t help but feel this was missing on Sunday.
He was another victim in Ashley’s ruthless regime of banishing those who dare to speak out. Nolan was essentially the head of the players’ trade union and in a true Thatcher-esque style he soon found himself shut down.
The ethos of the club’s transfer policy consists of buying a cheap player from a foreign market and then developing that player into a much more valuable commodity. This policy just enhances the stepping stone nature of the club for the players to the point where we have become a proverbial farmers market.
While Coloccini likes to lead by example from the back it still begs the question, where are our natural leaders on the pitch?
You only needed to see the reaction Joey Barton got when he was brought onto the pitch during Steve Harper’s testimonial to see how much the fans value players’ dedication.
I for one, think we needed more players like Nolan leading the line but it simply highlights the growing feeling that the fans find it hard to connect to the club in the way they used to.
It also shows us that, with Ashley in charge there is only one voice at Newcastle and we are still yet to hear it.
25 years and 2 months of giving you unbiased credible coverage of Newcastle United, new issue of our magazine on sale in all Tyneside newsagents, or order now online for only £3 (plus postage) for Worldwide delivery straight to your door, or why not start a subscription – prices from only £23.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]