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, West Ham Correspondent
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Hammers skipper Kevin Nolan insists there will be no complacency from his side, despite going into Saturday’s Play-off Final as hot favourites
West Ham may have beaten Blackpool in convincing style twice already this season, but skipper Kevin Nolan is determined to make sure his team do not treat the Seasiders’ challenge lightly at Wembley.
Those thumping wins make West Ham overwhelming favourites come Saturday, but Nolan is a shrewd customer when it comes to preparation.
“Obviously confidence is high,” said the 29-year-old West Ham captain. “We beat them 4-0 and 4-1, but at the end of the day it is a one-off game and Blackpool can turn up for one day and produce a masterclass performance.
“We can’t rest on our laurels, what we have got to do is put what we learned from those two games and master that game plan again on Saturday.”
Nolan has been here before. Way back in 2001, he helped Bolton dispatch Preston North End in the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
So what did he learn from that thumping 3-0 victory?
“I think you learn just how to handle the occasion,” reflected the inspirational captain. “You are trying to make sure the nerves don’t get the better of you, stick to your game plan and if we do then we will a fantastic chance.”
Nolan has played European football for Wanderers in Madrid, Munich and Marseille among others, while he also saw his mate Andy Carroll perform at Wembley in the FA Cup Final on May 5, but this will be his first chance to play on the hallowed turf.
“I’ve never played there,” he said. “When we came through the play-offs with Bolton we won it at Cardiff which was a fantastic occasion with an amazing atmosphere.
“Playing in Europe with Bolton was fantastic and we got some great results, so hopefully there will be more of the same come Saturday.”
So what have been Nolan’s top moments from the season so far? He doesn’t have to think back very far.
“Two of my highlights have been the two Cardiff games,” said the midfielder. “I think Malky Mackay said it was the money we have got and the squad we have got that puts us where we are, but it is not you know.
“In the two games against them we were totally the better side and throughout the season we have learned how teams have set up against us, what they have done to try and counteract us.
“So it was great to see all that come to fruition in those two Cardiff games.
“I have really enjoyed this year and hopefully I can get better both on and off the pitch and we can start building something, the first thing being getting back into the Premier League.”