NOLAN’S STILL A USEFUL OPTION
KEVIN Nolan’s shock departure from West Ham could be great news for any Championship club willing to pay his wages.
Captain against Bournemouth last weekend, the 33-year-old was withdrawn at half-time and subsequently informed that he was no longer good enough for Slaven Bilic’s first XI.
Unwilling to sit on his backside, the former Bolton midfielder agreed to tear up a contract worth £50,000-a-week and is now a free agent.
Clearly, the Scouser still has the desire to play. The question now – especially after being run ragged by Bournemouth – is does he still have the legs?
At the highest level, probably not. The Premier League is increasingly dominated by power and pace, but Nolan increasingly resembles a terrified Shaggy in Scooby Doo – all effort, no motion.
Nor does Nolan fit the kind of tactical fluidity beloved by foreign coaches. He suits one position and one system.
Nevertheless, his greatest quality – that intuitive ability to see space, time a run and put the ball in the net – remains undiminished.
In the Championship, where the pace is slacker and defenders that fraction slower, Nolan could still fill his boots.
Five years ago, he scored 17 times as Newcastle roared back to the Premier League. A totemic figure off the field, his down-to-earth professionalism also helped unite a dressing room of cliques and egotists.
Such a galvanising effect at 33 is unlikely. But a double-figure goal tally is not. It a team plays to his strengths, he could be the difference between mid-table mediocrity and a top six finish.