In this piece I intend to concentrate on one of those, Kevin Nolan, who has received much undeserved flak from the less “gifted” sections of Newcastle United’s fanbase since his departure. Though Carroll has almost certainly received even more, that is undoubtedly a whole story on it’s own and as a Newcastle United blogger, I am still suffering from Carroll fatigue, and possibly you are too?
Getting back to Nolan though, below is one example of the kind of thing I’m writing about from so called “fans”. It is from the commments section below a story on the midfielder in local rag, the Chronic.
“Yes kevin Nolan, one word springs to mind that actually rhyms with “Fishbowl” when talking about the south….”**ithole” Thank you for your service, but sorry, you wouldn’t get into this squad ahead of Ben Arfa or Cabaye, get your head out of the smogg air son, big clubs have demanding, passionate fans, that’s why so many can’t handle the pressure up here and depart for debt laden clubs willing to overpay on salaries, smaller crowds, less expectation, and poorer playing standards installed by useless fat Sam!”
Sadly, it is but one of many since the player left the club for West Ham in June, 2011. Another one was “What a piece of business replacing this fatty with Cabaye.” However, it may have escaped the attention of those writers that Nolan has scored as many goals, and as many assists as both Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye put together this season. Lets take a look.
|Nolan vs Ben Arfa and Cabaye (All competitions)|
|Hatem Ben Arfa||10||2||2||20||5||886||443|
Assts – Assists, S.o.G. – Shots on Goal, MinsPl – Minutes Played, M.P.G. – Minutes per Goal.
Dear reader, please don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to use this as a stick to beat both Ben Arfa and Cabaye, who are seen as replacements for Nolan and Joey Barton as top midfielders in the side. They are indeed great players and great signings who are undoubted assets to the Newcastle United team. There is also the consideration that they all diferent kinds of player, though both Nolan and Cabaye could be described as “box to box” midfielders, they both live up to this description in different ways. However, without going into too much analysis of these statistics it does give the lie to some of the “slower” fans’ assertions that Nolan is some kind of fat old has been that we are well rid of. Of course though, this season alone is great for looking at the players’ current form, but ten or eleven games isn’t that much to go on, so lets look at their all time Newcastle United records. I have not included any of Nolan’s games in the Championship, as that would be an unfair comparison. Here goes!
|All time Newcastle United record (excluding Championship)|
|Hatem Ben Arfa||44||9||8||41||14||2934||326|
Assts – Assists, S.o.G. – Shots on Goal, MinsPl – Minutes Played, M.P.G. – Minutes per Goal. (Stats from ESPN and Transfermarkt)
So there you have it. All have now had a roughly similar amount of time bearing in mind that we are not counting Nolan’s season of Championship games. Nolan was more prolific in terms of goals, with the team scoring noticeably fewer goals from midfield since he left. This is especially so since Nolan’s attacking game was transformed by Chris Hughton after he took over from Iain Dowie and Alan Shearer as manager.
Though undoubtedly less of a “playmaker” than either Ben Arfa or Cabaye, Nolan’s record for assists doesn’t look too bad. One thing Cabaye has undoubtedly brought to the team though is his defensive qualities. The Frenchman has made far more tackles in the Premiership than any other player this season with 117. To put this in perspective, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor have only made 111 collectively and Check Tiote has only made 67. But I won’t get bogged down in stats again. In Nolan’s favour of course, there was also his excellent leadership qualities as Captain. In the run up to our game with West Ham, his current manager, the abovementioned Sam Allardyce had this to say on Nolan’s leadership qualities:
“As far as Kevin is concerned, the most tricky decision was to make him Bolton captain at the age of 23. It was a massive risk, asking him to handle much older and more experienced players. Once or twice in those early years, I thought his game was being affected and wondered whether to take the captaincy off him but I’m glad to say that, since then, he has developed into the captain I thought he’d become.
“Kevin enjoys his responsibilities on and off the pitch. If the lads want something he will go out of his way to help them. He sees me when he needs to but he never comes telling tales. I was the same. I was a captain as a player but when a manager asked me to tell tales, I told him: “You don’t want a captain, you want a snitch. There are fewer Kevin Nolans about these days, I’m sad to say.”
Which is a far cry from the smear stories spread by Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias to discredit both Nolan and Chris Hughton in the wake of Hughton’s controversial sacking due to not being “horrible” enough for Derek Llambias’ tastes. The story went that it was actually Kevin Nolan and a core of older players such as Joey Barton and Alan Smith were actually running team affairs more than Hughton. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the resentment felt towards our ex-Captain by the more basic section of the fanbase, or perhaps it was further tales of Nolan’s “greed” for turning down a two year contract which, allegedly, would only be activated IF the club achieved a top seven finish in the club’s second season in the Premiership. This when Allardyce was wanting to take his old captain back to West Ham with a four year contract offer for around £55,000 per week.
One thing which is certain is that Nolan has not deserved the censure, or the derision at his considerable abilities from alleged Newcastle United fans who seemingly know less than nothing about football if they think that Nolan was no great loss to the side. I sincerely hope they keep their traps shut tomorrow and give Nolan the welcome he deserves rather than fall once again for the culture of dishonesty in the Newcastle United boardroom.
Now I’ve got that off my chest, I will finish with a comment from yesterday by site user “toontony.” It was about Nolan in response to a comment I made when I was thinking of writing this piece, and I thought summed things up rather well.
“He was a great player and captain for us in some very difficult times, and he still is a great player. Can’t blame him for wanting a better contract after what Ashley wanted to give him.”
But what do you think? Please let us know your thoughts in our comment section and Nolan poll below.
Finally, I have also included a video tribute from YouTube by Toon fan ““Welzyyy,” made when Nolan left the club.
“Kevin Nolan – Goodbye”