West Ham skipper plays down his effect on team spirit in run-up to play-off final
09:30 16 May 2012
West Ham captain Kevin Nolan has had a positve effect on the Hammers squad this season, but he insists that too much is made of it
West Ham captain Kevin Nolan insists too much is made of his effect on team spirit, despite helping to turn the Hammers from a beleaguered, relegated shambles last season into a team that could book their place back in the Premier League on Saturday.
Only Blackpool stand between them and an immediate return to the big time, but Nolan is playing down his role in things off the field.
“People give me a lot more credit than I probably deserve in that respect,” said the 29-year-old midfielder, who has scored 13 goals in claret and blue this term.
“I am confident in what I do and in my ability and a lot of people don’t like that and some people do and it is up to them to go one way or the other.
“When people know me, they trust me and they know that they can talk to me and I will always give them 110 per cent and I think that helps with the lads here.
“They are all genuine and honest kids here and I think we have got a good foundation.”
Some thought it was a gamble when Nolan opted to leave Newcastle to come south and join up with manager Sam Allardyce for a third time, but the player certainly does not see it that way.
“I didn’t think it was a gamble, I was absolutely delighted with the move,” he said.
“Once I knew West Ham wanted me to come here and play, for me it was a no-brainer.
“I had been through a few little problems at Newcastle regarding my contract situation, so when West Ham were willing to show their faith in me and give me the terms I could agree on, I was delighted to come down and get full throttle into it.”
The former Bolton man admitted that it was difficult to get used to his new surroundings at first and that certainly affected his early season form.
“Being a northern lad it was quite tough when I first came down, being on my own without my wife and kids and not having the base of what I have always had with my Mum and Dad and my brother close by.
“I think I have adjusted quite well and I have got stronger as it has gone along and I am hoping to finish it off in style by getting back to the Premier League.”
He may not be keen to take the credit for the transformation at West Ham, but just how low was morale when he arrived?
“Going back to this time last year, it was quite surprising coming through the door because there are a lot of great lads here,” he said.
“You can see now the place is bubbly, it’s buzzing. Everyone wants to do it on Saturday because we get on really well with each other.”
A far cry from the despondency in the West Ham captain after relegation and the sacking of Avram Grant as manager.
“There is a low point when you get relegated and I did it with Newcastle,” he said.
“There are always people who have to leave and once they are gone, you have to restructure the club and that is what we have tried to do here.
“We have tried to get a morale going around the place which is going to help in the future and start building something which is not going to be just getting back into the Premier League and surviving.
“It is about getting back up and then slowly, but surely, getting this club back up amongst the top 10 and then top eight and try and achieve what we did with Bolton.”
The first step on that road comes at Wembley on Saturday, and with players like Nolan on their side, West Ham will certainly have the inspiration to succeed.