May 22 2013 Latest news:
Nathaniel John , West Ham Correspondent
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Nolan says first season in top flight is about consolidation
West Ham captain Kevin Nolan was glad to be back at work as the Hammers met for the first time since their summer break for an intensive pre-season camp in Austria.
The first-team squad travelled to the continent on Sunday and having spent a week working on their fitness in temperatures of up to 34C degrees will take on FK Austria Wien on Saturday in their first pre-season fixture.
And Hammers skipper Nolan was happy to be back among his colleagues and was keen to get down to work.
“Looking back over the summer and reminiscing about what happened was great,” he said.
“We got back to where we belong after a long and hard season with a lot of changes.
“The lads did fantastically well and I think it was what we deserved in the end.
“I love getting back to see all the lads, all the banter and being a kid again after being a dad and a husband for five weeks.
“Footballers are like that, you have that camaraderie and you do miss your team-mates after a bit.”
With a Premier League season ahead of them for the first time in two years, there is an understandable buzz around the West Ham first-team at the moment, and Nolan admits that feeling will be crucial in keeping the Hammers in the top flight.
“The euphoria does mean something because we’re back in the Premier League,” he said.
“It was nice getting those Nike balls back out and being able to kick them about everywhere – and me shank them everywhere!
“It just shows that the hard work we put in during the last pre-season and last season got us our just reward.
“We just need to focus on consolidating ourselves in the Premier League and making sure that we stay back where we feel that West Ham United belong.
“This year is going to be about consolidating and making sure we’re there for the season after.
“I’m really looking forward to that first day back in the Premier League.”
First up for Nolan and his troops is an Upton Park clash agains Aston Villa.
And the 30-year-old is well aware that although his team may not win as many games as they did in the Championship, they must remain focused on their task in hand as a squad – Premier League survival first and foremost.
“I think it’s about sticking together,” added the Hammers captain. “We can’t get too upset about defeats and can’t celebrate the victories too dramatically.
“It’s all about staying on an even keel and staying focused all season and making sure you don’t get too low.
“What we want is that if we lose a game we bounce right back and if we win a game we keep that run going.
“It doesn’t matter who you are playing next, but about who you are playing now.
“Aston Villa are up first at home and we’ve got to make sure we win the game because they will be coming thinking ‘West Ham have just been promoted’ and wanting to win the game too.
“We’ve got to be ready and I’m sure we will be and will get off to the start that we want.”