The Nolan Aftermath
As Kevin Nolan completes his move to West Ham, ToTT reviews his time at the Toon and the implications of the transfer.
Nolan arrived at Newcastle in the midst of a tempestuous season, Joe Kinnear`s second "major" signing after Peter Lovenkrands in what promised to be a budget transfer window. Nolan had gone from being Bolton club hero to partial villain in many Trotters` eyes.
The vagaries of the season were yet to come to an end as Kinnear suffered further heart problems with Hughton taking over, before the reins fell into Shearer`s hands. Nolan became one of Shearer`s regulars, finally making 11 appearances but was unable to halt the march towards relegation. His passion, however, was evident in gaining a red card against Everton.
It was that summer that Nolan asserted his character on the squad. A clear out of the more highly paid players came around the time of a humiliating 6-1 friendly defeat at the hands of the Hammers` East London neighbours, the Orient. Nolan the squad player departed and Nolan the captain arrived.
Nolan seems to have led the players` committee that worked with Hughton to identify who wanted to stay at the club and those whose feelings were less strong. The players committee was formed to work with the new boss.
As a solid start to the season pushed Newcastle up to the top of the table, Nolan`s debut goal came against Palace away a hat trick soon following at Portman Road. The race among the season`s scorers had commenced. Nolan`s 5 goals in 4 games towards the end of the season ensured that promotion was gained in Plymouth. Nolan ended as joint top league scorer with his protégé, Andy Carroll.
His captaincy was continued into the Premier league season, leading by example to score a rare hat trick against the Mackems, off the field guiding Carroll through troubled times. His leadership was exemplified in the first match following Hughton`s departure, rallying the squad to a fine victory over his home club. Further rallies came when 4 down against Arsenal with his 50th Premier League goal coming against his former club, Bolton.
With more rousing performances before the season`s end, Nolan had established himself as a late arrival in the box with a sharp finish, elsewhere on the field providing leadership and industry, if not pace and ending up as top scorer again.
With his inspirational qualities evident, his latest manger, publicly at least, identified Nolan as a player to be retained. Whilst the boss was sunning himself in the Maldives, the contact villains at the club did their worst, whether it was at the manager`s behest or not.
On signing for West ham, Nolan did record his feelings for the club. Perhaps as a supporter of Hughton, who stood up for his players, his destiny was already assured.
What does the transfer say about the manager though? Pardew is the man who inherited the squad from an obviously respected figure. Pardew is the man who said that he had gained assurances from the owner and Chairman that Carroll would not be sold, was going nowhere, not at any price.
Pardew was the man who said that he had a record of encouraging owners to invest in the club, oversaw the sale of Carroll and replaced him, at least for the short term, with Kuqi, an aging player who had not scored a Premier league goal for 5 years. Pardew sits on a transfer surplus of £30m.
Pardew is the man who publicly stated that he would ensure that Nolan stayed, along with Barton whose contact is being allowed to lapse and Enrique who has still to put pen to paper.
Hughton was Pardew`s former coach at Spurs and by some criteria, the most successful in the Toon`s history. The roller coaster at the club featured the constructive dismissal over the manager`s role in transfers. With that sort of background, after all his reassurances to the Geordie public through liberal media contact, Pardew`s role appears barely tenable. Did he tell the truth about assurances? Did Ashlay and Llambias tell him Pardew the truth?
Pardew himself saw a slump in form that led to a mere 3 wins in the last 18 games of last season, the sort of record that saw him sacked at West Ham and replaced by Curbishley, who ultimately saved Pardew`s expensive squad from relegation, before being undermined.
Pardew did pay his own tribute to Nolan, which only served to reinfotce that two sets of contract negotiations, over players he said he would keep, broke down whilst the manager was sunning himself in the Maldives. His role in the "last say" over players seems negligible.
It also reflects on the owner and Chairman of the club. Having sacked a manger, claimed that they sought stability, brought in a new manager who claimed that he sought the same, the squad seems to be torn apart. The young Geordie striker was sold, apparently against the notorious club statement of June 2010, that they would seek to develop talent from within the club.
If the owner and Chairman want loyalty from players, they have sacked two club legends, albeit constructively in Keegan`s case, with suggestions of broken word over Shearer. They sacked a successful manager in Hughton. They have allowed the two top scorers from the promotion season to leave, albeit at a profit, as well as failing to agree contracts with other key players.
The PR side seems to stress that players have refused contracts, submitted transfer requests and generally been disloyal. The trend is too consistent for many to believe their spin, particularly after an industrial tribunal found that their evidence might not be totally reliable.
Conclusions might be drawn. It would seem hard to challenge the feelings among many supporters that the current hierarchy of the club might be liars, particularly after the Keegan tribunal.
Does this all send a message to new potential players that the club provides a career? Can we expect team spirit from players who see this feeder club as a stepping stone? Does it send a message to supporters that the club is worth supporting? Geordie principles of support, tolerance and welcome continue to be sorely tested under this regime.
Kevin Nolan leaves with the supporters` thanks. The same might not be said of Ashley and Llambias when their time inevitably comes. As for the truthfulness of Llambias, Ashley and Pardew over the Carroll money, time will surely tell.
For his part, Pardew has told the fans to move on - after you Alan!