Mirror - Kevin Nolan has held talks with Bolton Wanderers over an emotional return to the north west after leaving West Ham last month. dg— David Gold (@davidgold) September 13, 2015
Let's allow ourselves to entertain the notion for just a minute. Some of you may even become excited by the prospect. The Daily Mirror has reported that Kevin Nolan held introductory talks with Bolton Wanderers over a potential move back to Greater Manchester. It could be lazy journalism at its finest, or it could just have some truth in it. David Gold's tweet this morning that Nolan has indeed held talks over an "emotional return" (his words, not mine) have added further fuel to the fire.
Regardless of whether this alleged move is based on fact or fiction, the story has brought a mixed reception from fans, some of which are my colleagues here at the Lion of Vienna Suite - at 33, many think Nolan is past his best, and would offer little to the Wanderers squad. I can't accept that. In a squad that lacks Premier League experience, natural leadership, and most importantly goals, Kevin Nolan has a lot to offer Bolton Wanderers, regardless of his age.
In yesterday's starting line up, the Bolton Wanderers squad had a total of 6 seasons of Premier League experience, all provided by Dean Moxey and Mark Davies. When you consider Moxey's career at Crystal Palace as one spent largely on the sidelines in the top division, and Mark Davies' injury plagued spell in the top flight, Wanderers very much have a side that has been raised in the Championship. Of course, when Big Emile comes into the mix, it makes for a different story, but the fact remains that Wanderers are very much a Championship outift.
When Sam Allardyce came to Bolton Wanderers, he brought in players that either knew the top division, or how to get promoted into it. Players like Mike Whitlow, Gareth Farrelly, Simon Charlton and Colin Hendry. Nolan has experience of both. The average age of these players when signing for Wanderers? 29 years old. In fact, if you take Farrelly out of the equation, it's 31. Allardyce's formula was to mix the youth we had at the time with experienced top flight players. Neil Lennon has the brightest young talent the club has had for some years, and adding experience is something he has attempted since day one. Eidur Gudjohnsen and Emile Heskey have offered experience in abundance both last season and this year, and bringing in Kevin Nolan would only add to what Heskey continues to bring.
In addition to this, Nolan will bring the squad some much needed leadership expertise. When you consider that this season our captains have been Darren Pratley and Mark Davies, it is clear that the squad lacks a natural leader. Nothing against these players in terms of their ability, but they're not the type of player to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and buoy a team on the field. Nolan, regardless of your views on his ability, is a natural captain. In fact, he has captained each team he has represented in the Premier League. As both a player with top flight experience and natural leadership qualities, this move is a no brainer.
The only area of criticism I can accept is that Nolan may not be cut out for a central midfield role - at 33, he may not have the legs to get around the pitch like he did at his peak. In fact, even at his peak, he couldn't get around the pitch. However I think I've found a solution. Now don't laugh, because at first this might sound ridiculous, but why don't we play him up front?
Nolan has always been a goal scoring midfielder, a player that arrives late in the box. His brace in his Premier League debut away at Leicester City in the club's return to the promised land announced him to the top flight. Goals away at Manchester United, pouncing on the second ball before putting two delicious finishes into the net at either end of Old Trafford show exactly what he was, and hopefully still is, capable of. Even at 33, I think that if he plays off a target man like Heskey or Madine, goals will come. In his stints in the Championship with both Newcastle and West Ham, he scored 17 and 12 goals respectively. Again, this was some time ago, but if Eidur Gudjohnsen and Emile Heskey are anything to go by, even when the legs go, the ability remains. Playing Nolan up front with a traditional target man could bring goals, something which we desperately need.
Finally, the fans. How great it would be to sing Kevin Nolan's name once more on the terraces, to celebrate his first goal back in a Wanderers shirt, to see that sprint towards his own goal after shaking hands with the opposition captain before kick off. We all saw the boost that Eidur gave the club as a whole with his return, and I'll confidently bet that Nolan would do the same.
All that's left to say is that I wanna know if he'll score a goal (if he signs). So raise your morning brew for a toast: to returning heroes. Cheers.