So Kevin Nolan is on his way from Newcastle United to Upton Park. Surprisingly, the Newcastle skipper rejected a new contract at St James’ Park in favour of a move down a division to the Hammers.
At first glance, this is not good news for Newcastle. A solid first season back in the top flight has been largely based around the play of Kevin Nolan, never more evident than in the dismantling of Sunderland in October where he grabbed a hat-trick. And, generally speaking, losing your captain and talisman just months after losing your young star is not ideal. However, there is certainly a case to be made that this could be a great move for the club.
Look at it this way. Nolan is getting on a bit now. He may still have a few years but he is never going to get any better than he has been this season. His departure frees up space for a young driving force in the heart of midfield and, possibly more importantly, it shows the rest of the league that Newcastle are not the sentimental club they have become over the last few decades.
Throughout my life, Newcastle have been popular but never successful. People seem to want them to do well but they always fall short. For instance the infamous capitulation of Kevin Keegan’s side at the hands of Manchester United. They have come to be associated with sentimentalism, never a good thing in the ruthless world of modern football. The unexpected development in this story will go some way to shedding that image. This is now a club that will not pay over the odds now for someone based on what they have already done. Some fans may not like it but it is the way to progress the club.
If Alan Pardew can use this as an opportunity to bring in good young talent, or even bring through some of the academy players at the club, then this could be the moment where Newcastle United begin to move to the next level. They finished 11th in the league last year and with a chairman who does have money, then the possibility to establish themselves as a top 10 club is there. But the competition is stronger than ever. The replacement has to be good.
There is talent in the squad. Cheik Tiote showed that he has the ability to play a pivotal role if he can stay fit and reach a level of consistency. The transfer rumours are also positive. Seb Larsson and Charles N’Zogbia have both been mentioned, and this kind of attacking player is what the fans will want to see brought in. Much rests on the weeks ahead — before the season starts.
In the end, as with 99% of transfers, the proof will only be seen as the season progresses. If things start poorly at St James’ then the fans may become frustrated at the lack of a strong leader. If Nolan’s replacement scores 10 goals by Christmas then Nolan will soon become a memory of a forgotten era.
What do you think? Is this move a real problem for Newcastle, or could it prove to be a significant, positive moment in the club’s recent history.