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Irish Hammer 10:51 Mon Sep 20
Article - The men behind David Moyes

Article is from April 2020, but its just something to enjoy with that mid Monday morning coffee / cigarette / visit to the lavatory

Have a great week all !

Kevin Nolan and Paul Nevin – the men behind David Moyes

For many managers, post-match introspection after defeat brings questions: Why did we perform so poorly? What could we have done better? Is this team good enough?

For Kevin Nolan, the trip to Barnet in February 2018 was not supposed to end that way. Nolan, now a West Ham first-team coach, was the manager of promotion-chasing Notts County. His players knew what was required to beat bottom side Barnet, but a 1-0 defeat will live long in the memory for the players who had to cancel plans once they saw their enraged boss.

It turned out to be a day and night where they covered more ground off the field, than on it. A last minute goal from Alex Nicholls meant it would be an unhappy journey on the coach home.

“We lost 1-0 at Barnet and went back on the coach and Kevin wasn’t happy with the performance, so we went straight back to our ground and watched the whole game again until about one in the morning,” says Mark Crossley who was Nolan’s assistant at Notts County. “As well as rewarding the players when they did well, they knew Kevin could be ruthless.

“Obviously some of the players wanted to get back home to their families so it was a shock to the system. But it was needed because it was a bad performance. No one argues with the manager and Kev is a tough old kid so no one questioned his decisions.”

Kevin Nolan Mark Crossley
Nolan kept Crossley on as his assistant at Notts County (Photo: James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)
Three days later, Nolan’s message hit home when the players beat Carlisle United 2-1 at home. Adam Collin, the Notts County goalkeeper at the time, says the Barnet experience still stands out.

“He’s the best manager I’ve worked with because he could handle all sorts of situations,” says Collin. “I’ve worked with some managers who would come in if we’re drawing or playing bad and they could rip into the players but Kevin would often be calm. We went into every game knowing everything possible about the opposition.

“We were rubbish against Barnet and then we had to travel four hours back to Nottingham. We waited at the stadium while the analysis was sorted out on his laptop and then we all watched the game back. Kevin went through our mistakes and after it was done with but we were better as a team from that experience. At first the lads were pissed because some had plans. Most managers would make the players train the following day but we didn’t. That’s what I liked about Kev, he hardly went against his word. It was the best dressing room I ever worked in and that was all down to Kevin.”

In February, West Ham announced the appointments of Nolan and Paul Nevin as first-team coaches until the end of the season. Nolan was a former West Ham player and captain who scored 31 goals in 157 games for the club during his four-year spell, Nevin had coached in England, Qatar and New Zealand.

Over the past two months Nevin and Nolan have left a good impression on the manager David Moyes. Quite often Nolan will join the discussions on the touchline whenever he has made observations during games. Nevin, however, tends to be more reserved and his wealth of experience and knowledge of the game was to Chris Hughton’s benefit during their time together at Brighton & Hove Albion.

“I knew Paul when he was at Fulham when he coached the youth ranks and reserve team,” says Hughton. “As black coaches and black managers, you are aware of any other black coaches that are in the system doing well. He had a good reputation at Fulham as somebody that was very diligent at what he did.

“Paul had applied for the job at Brighton and I pushed for him to get the role because I knew of his credentials. He went through the normal interview process and once it was confirmed I was delighted to have him on board. He was great with session planning and some of the work he would do with my other coaches involved meetings with players. He had experience and a lot of aspects of coaching and was a valuable assistant.

“David Moyes phoned me as a courtesy call to say that he would be speaking to Paul, which was a nice thing to do. I know David well and wouldn’t expect anything less. At that point myself and Paul were out of work so he didn’t have to do that. It’s a good addition for West Ham with Kevin Nolan also being there. Kev was my captain at Newcastle so I know him well and I like him a lot. He’s probably a bigger personality than what Paul is but I think probably it’s given David a well-rounded coaching staff with Alan Irvine also being there.”

Nevin’s first and only spell as manager at New Zealand Knights came with its difficulties. Having replaced John Adshead at the helm at the now-defunct club, Nevin was tasked with securing a top four finish in the Australian A-League, despite the team finishing eighth the previous season, 20 points behind seventh-placed Melbourne Victory.

New Zealand Knights were in financial trouble due to low attendance numbers and poor results. The club dissolved at the end of the 2006-07 season having finished eighth a second year running. Neil Emblen, who played for Wolverhampton Wanderers and is the assistant coach at Colorado Rapids, was the top scorer along with Noah Hickey on just two goals and remembers the stress Nevin had to endure.

Paul Nevin Chris Hughton Brighton
Nevin was a popular assistant to Hughton at Brighton (Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
“Looking back now I really enjoyed working under Paul,” he says. “I enjoyed his training sessions and there was a lot of new stuff that I’d never seen before. Paul was ahead of the game with some of the stuff he was doing. I had a great relationship with him and it was a shame we didn’t have a competitive team to do his knowledge justice.

“Paul was young and full of ideas but we knew it was going to be hard with our squad not being as competitive as other teams. Sir Alex Ferguson could’ve come in and coached us and it still would’ve been tough.”

Nolan’s first spell in management was as player-manager at Leyton Orient in 2016. He signed a two-and-a-half-year contract having replaced Ian Hendon with the club 11th in League Two but lasted four months under the ownership of Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti. In Becchetti’s three years the club slid from League One into the National League and went through 12 managers.

“He was with us two or three months before he became player-manager,” says former Leyton Orient right-back Sean Clohessy. “He was training with us to keep fit because he had just left West Ham. When he turned up for training he wasn’t even under contract but he trained like he was preparing himself for a game. He was one of the hardest workers, no matter what.

“He was giving advice to the boys but player-manager is the hardest role to be in because Kev had to go from being your mate and training on the pitch to dropping players on a Friday. Kev did bring in video analysis sessions and that was a real eye opener because we had never seen that side to him before. You could tell he was influenced by Sam Allardyce with his attention to detail.

“But then near the end of the season the chairman said he wanted Nolan to concentrate on being a player and he wanted to bring in another manager. You could tell Kevin wanted to continue being the manager and it’s a shame he wasn’t given that opportunity for a longer period.”

Nolan’s next challenge proved equally as challenging was a player-manager role at Notts County following Alan Hardy’s takeover of the club in January 2017. The League Two side had lost ten straight league games and were 22nd in the table, a point above the relegation zone.

“My first impression was he’s bigger in real life than he is on the telly,” says ex-Notts County defender Mike Edwards. “He did his homework on the players and his appointment gave everyone a lift. We were near the bottom of the league and needed a lift. When I first joined it was a club that had potential to be so much more than it had been over recent years. The place needed a boost to get the morale up and Kevin created a great team spirit.

“It was one of those where we were looking to get safety first but looking back now we were a little bit disappointed that we didn’t make the play-offs. Towards the end of the season the mentality had changed. We proved a lot of people wrong.

“The best memory with Kevin is when we used to train and he would always say ‘when you’re in the box you should shoot with the side of your foot’. No joke, he would shout, ‘Sidefoot, sidefoot, you get more goals!’ We used to laugh because we knew that if we used our laces and it didn’t put it in the top bin then you would be getting an absolute roasting. He could be 50 yards away, just observing, and if you missed it you would hear him shouting.”

Collin admits he was a tad bit surprised when Nolan was tasked with mastering their escape. “When Kev came in it was a bad time for the club because under the previous owner (Ray Trew) we weren’t getting paid on time. Then in a short space of time he turned it around. We were a bit surprised when he took over because Notts County is a big club in the lower leagues. There were some big names in the frame and Nolan had only worked at Leyton Orient. But it didn’t take long before he earned our respect.

“He gave the team an identity. During the pre-season Sheridan signed a lot of the players but we didn’t really have a style, where Kev was like, ‘We’re playing 4-4-2, we’re going direct and we’re going to be extremely good at set pieces.’ It was no surprise the clean sheets started to come in. In the space of a year we went from being bottom to sneaking into the play-offs.”

Notts County finished the 2017-18 season fifth in and faced Coventry City in the play-offs. They drew 1-1 in the first leg but lost the second leg 4-1 at home. The team had made great progress under Nolan so it came as a surprise when he was dismissed three months later by Hardy. Nolan won 35 of his 84 games in charge but was shown the door. It started a run that would end in County being relegated from the Football League.

Harry Kewell, the former Leeds and Liverpool forward lasted less than three months as his replacement and Neal Ardley was unable to keep them up as Hardy’s reign also collapsed.

“I was assistant manager under Sheridan so when Kevin came in he said let’s work together and see how it goes,” says Crossley. “I didn’t know Kev but straightaway we hit it off. We’re similar types of people and we ended up working together for the rest of the time he was there. I was expecting to leave because when a new manager comes they usually get a bit wary, especially if they don’t know you. But our relationship grew and after three weeks we both knew it was going to work.

“I liked his honesty and knew that I could just be myself and say how I felt and he would take it on board. He always makes the final decision but he likes to listen to other people’s opinions. He’s a very good delegator. What he brought in more than anything was video analysis. We were massive on that and set pieces. Sometimes we would spend 90 minutes on set pieces. He also liked to do these mini leagues as well so you take the first eight games and then the second eight games and so on. He would put the question to the players, ‘How many points do you think we’re going to get from the teams we’re going to play?’ They then became targets so they were his main attributes along with his presence.

“I couldn’t believe it when he was sacked — it was far too early to make that decision. When the new man came in he didn’t succeed either. Kev was upset. He saved the team from relegation, secured a play-off spot in his second season, that’s not a bad start. Kev has a massive future ahead of him as a manager.”

In October 2018, Nevin was invited by England manager Gareth Southgate to join his coaching staff, and he remained with the senior team through to their third-place finish at the UEFA Nations League finals last year. Nevin made a good impression on Southgate and continued to do some scouting for the FA after his placement had ended.

The 50-year-old mainly worked on domestic scouting, which included working on individual player reports. Nevin fitted in straightaway and was said to have felt accepted in the group and part of the team. He was also liked by the players.

Sol Campbell and Terry Connor were also among the coaches who enjoyed a placement with England as part of a programme and initiative to tackle the under-representation of BAME coaches in the game. While Nevin was with the seniors in, Connor and Campbell worked with under-21s manager Aidy Boothroyd.

It is believed Nevin’s level of experience as a coach and his relatively low profile meant his skill set was better suited to working in that environment.

“Paul told me the good news then he said I would be getting a call from Gareth, which I did,” says Hughton. “I was really delighted for Paul because he earned it. He’s travelled to get work and he’s worked at places where it wouldn’t have been easy so his involvement with England was well deserved. He has his badges, he’s studied and worked hard.”

Crossley was thrilled when he found out Nolan had gone back to West Ham, having been perplexed he had not got another job. Nolan was the overwhelming favourite to take charge of Grimsby Town following the sacking of Michael Jolley this season before they opted for the experience of Ian Holloway.

“Kev will become a top draw manager,” says Crossley. “He’ll be learning his trade a bit more with David Moyes and working with better players. If I were a chairman at a club I would be looking at Kevin. No club should hesitate to take him. Me and Kev used to always go for a bite to eat on a Thursday night and just talk football. We would also have a few beers. He’s just a good man and Kev would always pay. He has too much money not to!

“I was surprised that he went for interviews at Grimsby and Morecambe and can’t believe that no one gave him a job. It’s probably not a bad thing for him to be at West Ham to learn under Moyes, which he’ll take forward like he did with playing under Sam Allardyce. I used to hear him on the phone regularly to Sam. Kev wants to learn all the time so by going in as coach at West Ham it will only make his CV better.”

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Mex Martillo 10:52 Tue Sep 21
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
I always thought Nolan was an intelligent guy, I could see that in his play and positioning. I didn’t much like him as a BFS stooge. I like him as a coach though, you can see he is full on, full of fight and vocal, communicating well. I was a bit disappointed to read he likes to use direct BFS type football. Hopefully he is learning there are better ways.

stewie griffin 10:09 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
Nevin is apparently the brains of the operation. Must hold on to him

Hammer and Pickle 9:57 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
Nolan was very much Allardyce’s man when a player so I’d delighted and a little surprised he’s found his way as a coach.

angryprumphs 9:56 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
Going to be honest, I thought Nolan was far too much of a div to be that great behind the scenes. Has really proved me wrong, the bloke seems to have an ipad permanently attached to him and he is always showing someone something during games (hoping it isnt pornhub). He is always busy, always the first to talk to players coming off etc. Very impressed with what I see.

Stowie.40 9:33 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
I’ve thought for a while Nolan is gonna be our next manager whenever that will be.

gph 9:29 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
Thanks, Irish

gph 9:29 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
I doubt Kevin Nolan's going to hang around until he can be Moyes' successor.

He's been unlucky in management so far, so I reckon he'll be taking over somewhere else unless things fairly rapidly go pear shaped under Moyes.

Of course, if he goes to a small club, we might bring him back.

Thanks Irish 9:22 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
Thanks Irish

1964 9:14 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
Thought Nolan was a good player for us in the. Championship. Played with a smile and I believe he was a favourite of most.

lab 8:37 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
Thank you .

Sir Alf 8:26 Mon Sep 20
Re: Article - The men behind David Moyes
Cheers Irish.

Moyes always mentions the importance of his back room team Nolan, Nevin, Pearce and Irvine ( now Billy Mckay?).

Since Nolan arrived we seemed to go up another notch. He was not everyone's favourite as a player but was always a good captain I thought and hopefully he will spend a long time with us assuming we continue to see improvement and success on the pitch. Could even be Moyes' successor ? There I go again, the "kiss of death". :-)

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