The Second Half of The Season : How Nolan and Carroll’s Resurgence Changed Everything
For much of the season and certainly through the dark times that came directly after the 0-3 victory at White Hart Lane many fans have taken to calling for Big Sam’s head and questioning every decision from the playing of Kevin Nolan and Ravel Morrison, to player positioning, to the signings of Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll.
Without a doubt though much of the ire of fans has been directed at Andy Carroll’s signing, if not himself and of Big Sam’s continued playing of Kevin Nolan. Particularly in the wake of the second red card there were calls for Nolan to sit. But then a funny thing happened. We played Chelsea to a draw while they are in the teeth of a title fight. Somehow that draw, that single point, changed the whole season.
Another funny thing started happening around there previous to the second red card Kevin Nolan played the whole game, every game. However, when he came back he started getting substituted more often. Suddenly he was playing 65 to 70 minutes of every game instead of 90. He was also looking more energetic, more focused, in short, more his old self. He also started scoring goals again.
It is clear that as this team is currently constituted that the majority of the goals are coming form Carroll and Nolan; which brings us to the second point. Andy Carroll’s return has been a breath of fresh air for the team. West Ham is designed to score goals through Andy Carroll. There is no real plan b. This may be a mistake but it is also reality. It is additionally worth noting that as far as plans go it is a pretty good one. Carroll is one of the best young strikers in the game and as far as physical specimens might be the most complete striker possible. He is fast and controlled and able to do amazing things in the air. There is a reason Liverpool paid $35 Million for him and we are the lucky beneficiaries of that.
Since the Chelsea game we have taken 18 points from the last 27 and in that time Kevin Nolan has scored 5 goals and Andy Carroll has scored 2 while adding 3 assists. Combined they played a role in each of the goals scored with the exception of 1 Mark Noble penalty. I don’t know how many of those 18 points we get without them but probably not many. There is something magical about the partnership between these two players, one in what is probably his last few seasons and one who is still at the beginning of his career. West Ham, and all of us, are lucky to have both of them.