West Ham’s spirits in the sky means captain Nolan is doing his job
13:08 06 December 2012
PA Archive/Press Association Images
Hammers skipper Kevin Nolan is leading his troops to great heights
While Carlton Cole and Mo Diame were getting the plaudits for their efforts in seeing West Ham to a memorable 3-1 victory over Chelsea on Saturday, one man was content to step out of the limelight for once.
But it is fair to say that Kevin Nolan put in another exemplary performance and was an integral part of the victory, not only with his play, but by fact of the spirit that he has helped instil in the team.
He was man-of-the-match at Old Trafford last Wednesday, while on Saturday he seemed to have scored a perfectly legitimate goal in the first half, only for the referee to rule it out for a foul.
But it is that spirit that seems to be crucial to the Hammers as they continue to rub shoulders with the elite teams in the Premier League.
“Since we have come to the club – myself and Sam – we’ve tried to build a good spirit, not just for the 11 who play, but for the whole squad,” said the 30-year-old Hammers skipper.
“Carlton Cole for example, has a fantastic attitude. He has had to wait for his chance, but he’s very much part of what happens on a daily basis.
“We have a great camaraderie. We all want to do well for each other and work for each other and this proves that.”
Nolan was celebrating with his team-mates on Saturday. Like his manager, he likes nothing more than putting the big boys’ noses out of joint and that is why he is still smarting after last Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat against Manchester United.
“We let ourselves down a bit at Tottenham and when Man United scored that early goal I thought ‘what’s going to happen here?’” said Nolan.
“But it was good the way we responded. It’s probably the first time I’ve been to Old Trafford and been disappointed not to have come away with anything.
“I’ve been on the winning side twice there, but this was the only time I’ve lost there and been disappointed we didn’t come away with at least a point.”
He was right and West Ham took that form into Saturday’s game and despite a poor first half where the game could have been put out of reach, it was their strength as a team that turned things round.
“We have a tight-knit group of lads and it’s massively important to know that when you go out there, you know everyone is going to give their all,” he said.
“When things are not going right, you need to be able to look at your mate and ask yourself ‘Is he giving everything?’. It’s great to know your team-mates will step up and be prepared to go through a brick wall for you.”
West Ham now take on Nolan’s hometown club of Liverpool, but the midfielder doesn’t care who they come up against.
“That win puts us on 22 points with another home game to come,” he said.
“It’s been a massively tough run over the last week or so and to produce a performance like that was incredible.”
It was, but it is built on the team spirit instilled by the manager and the captain. Can you imagine an Avram Grant side bouncing back in that way?