Before Kevin Nolan was dismissed for kicking Fernando Amorebieta in the 44th minute at Craven Cottage, West Ham had a chance to reverse a slide that’s seen them fall to 19th place. Though the teams started the second half even, Steve Sidwell’s equalizer pulling back Mohamed Diamé’s seventh minute opener, a 10-man West Ham were bombarded in the second half, Fulham racking up 30 shots as the Hammers fell 2-1.
For a team without a league win since Nov. 30, Nolan’s red card was more than a bad break. According to West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, Nolan’s action was inexcusable, particularly given it’s the second time this year his captain has seen a straight red card.
“Kevin is an experienced player and I’m surprised because he had a silly challenge at Liverpool,” Allardyce said after Wednesday’s loss.
“That’s two in the space of the month now,” he said, alluding to Nolan’s Dec. 7 red card at Liverpool. “It’s not something I will allow to happen.”
If that’s a threat, it’s an ill-timed one, though Allardyce may see himself as out of options with a player whose drawn two red cards in six weeks. Against Liverpool, West Ham were always unlikely to get a result, eventually falling 4-1. But against Fulham, the Hammers had a chance to end a six-match winless run, with the Cottagers coming of a 6-0 drubbing at the boots of Hull City. Nolan’s impertinence, however, opened the door for the Cottagers to claim full points, keeping West Ham in 19th place.
Unfortunately for Allardyce, Mark Noble is now hurt, the midfield linchpin forced to come off Fulham. Ravel Morrison is also hampered by injury, suddenly thinning out a position what should be a strength for the Hammers. Whereas Nolan’s presence would normally allow Allardyce to manage minutes between his captain, Diamé, and Alou Diarra, the absence of him and Noble leave the West Ham boss hamstrung, further highlighting the ill-advised nature of Nolan’s red card.
“Our captain was irresponsible. Not just today but for the future because he is suspended,” Allardyce explained.
“We have to rally round now. We only have a few players to select from so losing Kevin and Mark Noble injured is a massive blow.”
But in the moments after Wednesday’s disappointing loss, most of Allardyce’s focus was on Nolan’s actions at Craven Cottage, the West Ham manager unrestrained in his criticism of his captain.
“He’s let everyone down and himself. I just don’t quite understand where he’s lost his cool and why it’s happened.”
With his second red card of the year, Nolan will be suspended for the next four games, a ban that will sidelines him for matches against Nottingham Forest (FA Cup), Manchester City, Cardiff City, and Newcastle.