FORMER skipper Kevin Nolan has urged Newcastle United supporters to trust Alan Pardew – and the Mike Ashley philosophy which has given chances to Shane Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi.
You would presume that Nolan, who was sold in the summer of 2011 after the board decided not to hand him a long-term contract, would have relished the chance to prove Newcastle and ‘the Ashley vision’ wrong. But he says he would have happily shaken the hand of either Derek Llambias or the United owner after the game, insisting he bears no grudges against anyone at St James’ Park.
Ironically, Nolan increased the sense of unease on Tyneside by netting the winning goal for visitors West Ham at a tense St James’ Park on Sunday, condemning the Magpies to a second home defeat of the season. It is a reverse that leaves United with little room for error ahead of Swansea’s visit on Saturday.
United are in some ways the victims of their own success last season, but there is a widespread feeling that they should be performing better than their current 10th place – even without a raft of key players who are either suspended or injured at the moment.
Nolan feels that Newcastle are in a false position, pointing out that West Ham sensed an opportunity to make the most of Fabrico Coloccini and Cheick Tioté’s absence through suspension. Europe makes things tougher, he admits, but he has backed Pardew’s team to come good.
“Yeah, it’s going to be tough for Newcastle this year,” he said. “They’ve had some massive players out like Coloccini and Tioté. They are probably two of their best and most influential players so it was important we tried to take advantage of that. But overall it’s been a good, solid start to the season.
“After the Europa League, it is difficult when you haven’t got the massive squad you need to be able to attack both competitions. It’s going to affect you.
“But Alan’s doing a great job here, managing the Europa League and the Premier League. Where they are now is probably a fair reflection of what they’ve achieved but when they get everybody back, Cheick and Colo in particular, they will start rising the league.
“I see what they’re doing with the younger players and that’s great. I said to young Ferguson that it was great to see him on the pitch. I’ve seen the likes of him and Sammy Ameobi at close quarters and it’s great to see them getting on the pitch. They deserve it.
“Sammy was brilliant in midweek, I was very surprised not to see him against us.” It was a triumphant return for the West Ham skipper but he has been careful not to gloat. Indeed Nolan said there was no message for those at United who might have felt his best days were behind him, and said he would happily shake Ashley’s hand.
“People have opinions. I’m a big man and I can take them,” he said. “I needed to get the best for me and they needed to get what they felt was the best for them. I’d shake the owner’s hand as willingly as I’d shake Alan’s because I got on well with them, they were good to me. I hope there is no animosity between us.”
Nolan was grateful to the Newcastle fans for giving him a good reception, admitting he was “taken aback” by the way they responded to him.
“When I first walked in I was on jelly legs. I thought it was fantastic, I can’t thank them enough,” he said.
“They’ve took to me, they know what I’m about.”
NEWCASTLE United Under-21s were denied the chance to go top of National Group Two by Manchester United last night.
Goals from Tom Thorpe and Tom Lawrence gave the Red Devils victory, with Conor Newton hitting the net for the Magpies at Whitley Park.