Kevin Nolan: We want to be right at it from Day One
As a much-loved figure amongst both West Ham United and Newcastle United supporters, first-team coach Kevin Nolan is looking forward to the prospect of welcoming his former club to London Stadium on Saturday night.
Speaking to West Ham’s pre-match show Inside Irons – the first 2020/21 episode of which launches on Friday morning – Nolan reasserted that manager David Moyes and his side are doing everything they can to make a fast start to the new Premier League campaign.
The Irons go into the game with an inconsistent recent record against the Magpies in the top-flight, but having also been the better side in their last game, a 2-2 draw at St James Park in July, when they registered 17 shots to the hosts’ eleven.
With the momentum of those performances at the tail end of last season behind them, Nolan is positive that West Ham can make a positive start to the fresh campaign ahead.
“It’s a fantastic start to be at home,” Nolan said. “We played Newcastle not so long ago so we know what to expect.
“They came here last year [in a 3-2 win for Newcastle]. I wasn’t a part of the staff then, but I covered the game for one of the radio stations, and we were poor and let them get away with a lot.
“I know the one thing the gaffer wants is to be high-tempo. We want to be right at it come Day One, so we’re really looking forward to it.
“It’s always great when one of your old team comes up, you want to play against them, and I get that same feeling now being on the coaching staff. I’m really looking forward to it and hoping that it’s going to be a good start and three points.”
A popular figure around the dressing room in his playing days – during which he spent two successful seasons in the North-East, before moving in 2011 for a further four in east London – Nolan was part of the West Ham side which bounced back to the Premier League at the first time of asking via the 2012 Play-Off Final.
The 38-year-old, who returned to West Ham as part of manager David Moyes’ coaching staff at the beginning of the year, is a fervent advocate of the significant role that a strong team chemistry played in such an achievement.
Speaking to his former teammates Carlton Cole and Bobby Zamora, along with Inside Irons presenter Chris Scull, Nolan discussed the array of characters within that West Ham United dressing room.
“You’ve got one of my favourite teammates sitting beside you!” Nolan told Scull. “He came in every day, even though he was late, with a smile on his face. We were all so happy because he was getting fined and we were thinking it would go into our kitty for Dublin!
“Another of my favourite teammates is still here as well: Mark Noble. You could never, ever take away what he brought to the dressing room. He was quite funny.
“The banter that just went around was unreal, there were good characters, and that’s a major part in having a successful team. You’ve got to have that togetherness, otherwise when you’re on the field, people see it.
“Noble in our group was good, we had Ginge (James Collins) who joined us when we got into the Premier League, and James Tomkins and Jack Collison were like twins – they were never separated. Even when we were outside the Club, they were always up to something or annoying someone!"
Having witnessed the boon to morale it provided first-hand, Nolan hopes to replicate such an atmosphere within the modern West Ham dressing room.
He said: “It still plays a major part, so you’ve got to try and find that kind of glue to get everyone onside in the dressing room.
“That’s what we’ve started to do and I think I’ve probably been brought in by the gaffer to help the boys, to get them going and give them a little bit of a kick up the backside when they need it, but also to be there to put an arm round the lads.
“You’re dealing with so many colourful characters and people with different backgrounds, and it’s about understanding that, and that’s something I was always good at, knowing how to approach people.”
He added: “You knew when Coley was in a mood not to talk about fines or being late, we’ll just let him come out of the changing room and onto the training pitch, get on with it and go home! The next day we’d let him know he got fined!”
Our hugely popular pre-match show Inside Irons returns for the 2020/21 season on Friday morning, presented by Chris Scull and Carlton Cole and free to watch on YouTube and whufc.com.
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