Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Trading Nolan and Parker.

So that's it then, based on last season's table, a win at home to Burnley will ward off the spectre of relegation to the old Third Division!

I say this only slightly tongue in cheek because there were those who, following relegation, warned that going through the Championship, like a backstreet vindaloo in New Delhi through the tummy of a five year old, was a distinct possibility. There was talk of all the players leaving, of no money for replacements, of a team of kids and aged yard dogs signed on frees. And then we bought Nolan.

And say what you like about Captain Kev's performances on the pitch, his signing was like a defibrillator for the West Ham corpse. Yes Doctor Evil was in place to reanimate the monster, but even Frankenstein needed what Shelley called "the spark of life"; and Nolan supplied it.

The interesting question is, would we be as successful had we retained Parker and not signed Nolan; and for all Scotty's rave reviews last year and this, and Player of the Season award, I think the answer very obviously would be no. I insisted last season that Nolan was the real Player of the Season because his goals and assists kept Newcastle up, whereas Parker's energy just saw us scamper to relegation, and I think Nolan is proving my point even whilst not playing well.

As Allardyce says, Nolan will score 12 to 14 goals come the end of the season, and that will almost certainly be the difference between the play offs and outright promotion. Goals win games, and Nolan supplies them - not only because of those he scores but because of the headache he causes to defenders every time we attack. They know he is a threat, they have to track him and mark him, and that makes space for others.

So whilst I have not been a big fan of his personal performances this season, there's no taking away from Nolan that he has been absolutely critical to our dramatic turn around. He is a captain. He doesn't charge around like a headless chicken, like Parker did in Claret and Blue, but he instills confidence and composure instead.

Look at our performance at Coventry. It was uninspiring but it was not uninspired. Had Parker been in the team as the leader, our play would have been frenetic when we were a goal behind, with Scotty running up blind alleys, flying into tackles and conceding free kicks; and an edge of desperation would have crept into to our play. But Nolan is different. He smiles. He looks languid. He somehow knows that it will all turn out all right and his confidence is infectious.

Look at the Derby game. The first time he touched the ball, he bisected two team mates and conceded a throw in. Inept! But did Nolan let that worry him? Did he hell as like. He just got on with it as usual, doing what he does, in the way he does it, and turning nasty at one point - on the pitch rather than in the dressing room - when he felt the team were not performing as they should do. And then he drilled in that brilliant goal, and won us the game in a flash of genius.

And at Miserablebrough yesterday, we saw the other side, winding up opponents, antagonising them into losing self control, provoking Boro players into little vendettas rather than playing to the team shape. It was crafty and effective. Did Nolan stand out on the night like Parker always did in a West Ham shirt? No. He just did a job and in doing a job, he did a number on the opposition. Whereas Parker always looked anxious, desperate, hurried, frantic and passionate, Nolan drifted through the game facilitating the team rather than trying to be the team himself.

Parker has found his role at Tottenham. He is a cog and the team plays around him. Sadly at West Ham, Parker played as if he was the machine, charging here, there and everywhere and infecting the team with a sense of desperation and helplessness. If Scotty can't win it, what chance do we stand?

Why are we winning now? Because we traded Parker for Nolan, trading desperate energy for languid control. To compare the two as players is as stupid as comparing a centre back to a centre forward but to compare them as leaders and examples to the team is perfectly valid. And Nolan is exactly what West Ham needed, a level headed leader who wins games, rather than a passionate whirlwind who was always fighting off defeat.


Anonymous said...

Very very good post(for a change). Nolan is a true leader who inspires his team. Whatever we pay him its wortth it if we gain promotion. The difference between him and Upson as captains is massive. Good luck super scotty but we have a real leader of men in Nolan. Great deal all round.

ECH's Dad said...

I think you have summed up the situation remarkably well with this well written article. I would go on to say how nice it is to see someone actually 'manage' things at West Ham - whether you agree or disagree with his style, you cannot help admire his ability to get things done 'his' way. Personally I would take wins any day having suffered 2 seasons of misery. I think the style will follow anyway as confidence grows. At last West Ham are starting to look like a very good team - some way to go, but you can see it taking shape. Brilliant! COYFI! Rob

darrenharry said...

Or, of course, he’s smiling like a Cheshire cat that’s got the cream because he knows Newcastle made the right decision, his legs are shot, his level is the championship and he cannot believe how bad the teams are compared to last time he graced them with their presence. I’m always suspicious of players pointing a lot and talking to the ref, it’s a mask and distraction for their (many) deficiencies IMO. Composed and languid? Really, sounds Brooking ‘esque doesn’t he? Do me a favour. Missed another sitter last night too. Just off to buy a hat as I’ll eat it if he is gaining your admiration when he’s halfway into his contract.

Hammersfan said...

That is another way of putting it, of course, Darren.

TurdsOut! said...

Snodgrass, Lallana, Mackail-Smith and Gerrard happy days in Fantasy land - I made some changes after the weekend and wondered if this will effect my points, Stani? when do we get points for last nights games?

John J - Ripon said...

Good post. They are very different players and so, difficult to compare. Parker was all about effort and determination, whereas Nolan's more about leadership and goal threat.

I'd like them both, but I think Noble is improving. As one Boro fan put it:

'Noble stood out for me as he popped up everywhere, he was always first too the second ball, showed good awareness and never conceded possession. '

Not quite sure about the last bit, but he's doing more to fill the Parker gap than any other player, IMO.

dazthehammer said...

Nolan scored the winners at derby, doncaster and brighton and also scored away to palace to knick a point, take them goals away we would be 7 points worse off, thats not to mention the leadership on the pitch gaining us valuable points in tough games recently turning defeats or draws into wins, yes he chips away at refs but it works, all together he must of got us 10-12 points more than we would without him already, not bad for a player that does "nowt".

Stani said...

Probably later today Turds. Good on you!

Of course, had we not been relegated with Parker, we would then maybe have not sold him, and thus not have brought Nolan in, HF.

Anonymous said...

Boy have you got it in for Parker. I agreed with some of your posts about him last year, but I don't agree with this one. Nolan is an enigma. He is ostensibly a midfield player but he isn't a 'ball-winner', he doesn't link the play, and he isn't creative. He gets the odd goal, and has natural ability in and around the opponents' box. In fact he is a striker masquerading as a midfielder. He doesn't play up front because he hasn't got pace. Parker's contribution far exceeded anything I have yet seen from Mr Nolan this year. Maybe Nolan is more of a natural leader than Parker was, but that job is easier when you are playing at a lower level. Your comparison between the two seems to ignore the fact that Parker was doing it in the Premier League, not the Championship. Tottenham are a side transformed since Parker's arrival there. Why keep running him down?

the headmaster said...

A compelling post, HF.
I tend to agree that Parker is very effective playing in a Spurs side surrounded by quality and it is conceivable that he would not have been anywhere nearly as effective as Nolan for us, in the cut and thrust of the Championship. That said, we'll never know.
As for Kevin himself, I also agree that he is being deceptively effective in his role although I do accord with Darren's sentiments in terms of his disappointing contributions to many games, in the playing rather than the captaining sense.
It remains to be seen just how sustainable captain Kevin will be, particularly if we achieve the goal of an immediate return to the EPL. On that front, I have my doubts. Let's not forget, Pardew didn't exactly fight to keep him so far as we can tell. He was also offered an attractive 5 year deal at an age, and stage of his career, when it is unlikely that would have been forthcoming under any other manager than Sam and at any other club than West Ham.
My guess would be that we may well get value for money this year, perhaps next season. Thereafter? Hmmmn, the jury's out.

Hammersfan said...

On strike today headmaster?

Anonymous said...

Of course he was - cast iron pension, bags of holidays, interfaces mainly with impressionable children and doesn't even have to know the difference between an ISP and an IP address and still they strike.

the headmaster said...

I wasn't as it goes, HF. Long story, mate. Probably not for a WHU blog I'd say, particularly given the attempt by old nondescript to provoke some sort of a response! Twat.

Anonymous said...

23:59 "twat" will suffice thank you, always good to know when my provocation has ruffled your feathers.

Hammersfan said...

Twat does sum you up succinctly, I agree.

Geoff said...

Doesn't it rankle HF that these public sector "workers" will have a pension many times bigger than yours?

Hammersfan said...

Not at all Geoff. Firstly, I own three properties in addition to my house which will provide my pension. And secondly, I recognise that public sector workers are appallingly underpaid for what they do! Would you go into a burning building to save a stranger's life? Would you work through the night helping the anti social yobs who get themselves into A&E? Would you police our streets? Would you work in a prison? In a mental hospital? Be a social worker dealing with the scum of this earth?

Why do you resent paying pensions to people who have dedicated their lives to public service whilst supporting the payment of benefits to work shy scum? And what about the tax relief given on pensions in the private sector? The fat cats get more in TAX RELIEF than state workers get in pension!