Nolan demands improvement

Captain Kevin Nolan was keen to rally the troops following Saturday's Barclays Premier League defeat by Crystal Palace, determined to ensure that West Ham United do not end the season with a whimper.

The 31-year-old offered an honest assessment of a third successive reverse, convinced that the Hammers were the architects of their own downfall. 

A frustrated Nolan thought the hosts should, at the very least, have taken a point and urged West Ham to show their true colours before the season's end.       

He told West Ham TV: "In the last two games here at home we've conceded three penalties and lost the game. Our discipline has got to get better. If we cut that out we come away with a 0-0 draw and although we'd have been disappointed with that, we've come off with a 1-0 defeat. 

"Now what we've got to do is stick together and have a good week in training. We haven't moved down in the table and we're still seven points clear of third from bottom. It's about getting over the line. They're all big ones from now until the end of the season." 

If West Ham are to fare rather better in their final three outings, top goalscorer Nolan knows the goals need to flow once more, a responsibility that he insists lies with the entire group.

He continued: "We had six [chances] in the first half and six in the second. When you get a chance you [have to] put it on target, because that's what the fans remember and that's what puts them [the opposition] under pressure. That's what we've got to be better at as a whole squad, not just as individuals.

"When we get those chances, even if they're half chances, that's enough in the Premier League. You've got to be able to take them and put them on target. We'll go away, we'll study the videos and we'll try to put it right next week at West Brom."    
For Nolan, the coming weeks present an opportunity to build foundations for next season, one that he hopes will prove a somewhat smoother ride.   

"There has been a determination all year," he confirmed. "There were a lot of people who doubted us, then we turned the corner when we got everyone back [from injury]. Hopefully in the next couple of games, when everything starts clicking, we'll put a few points on the board and just make sure we establish ourselves in the Premier League for next year.

"Building for next season is a massive priority and I'm sure, once we come back, this time next year we won't be talking about relegation, we'll be talking about trying to push for Europe."

Saturday's defeat was played against the tragic backdrop of young Dylan Tombides' passing, news that shattered the football club on Friday morning.

"It was very emotional with all the lads. It wasn't too long ago that Dylan was running around and smiling. Sadly we've lost him and we've lost a very good player, a top lad and a colourful character around the training ground. It's been a difficult couple of days, but I thought the lads handled it well."