Tony Cottee Column: We should judge Nolan’s performances after five years, not five weeks

West Ham fans should be happy with a hard-earned point at Crystal Palace

The Hammers returned from Crystal Palace with a point and I think that West Ham fans can’t be too disappointed with that.

It was a tough game in south London and I didn’t expect any different as Palace are a strong side that have really improved under Dougie Freedman and I think that they are capable of finishing in the top 10 this season.

It was important after last week’s defeat at home to Ipswich that we responded, and we didn’t get off to the best of starts when we conceded early in the game on Saturday.

However, we showed good character to come back from behind not once, but twice to salvage a valuable point.

Looking at the goals, it was of course disappointing to see sloppy defending, but I think that was down in part to the changes that were made within the defence and of course with a new keeper coming in.

Losing Rob Green for four to six weeks is a big blow for West Ham.

Most Read

Green is a top class, international keeper and some of the saves he has made this season have been as good as scoring goals at the other end.

However, in Manuel Almunia we have an able deputy.

I have to admit that I was not Almunia’s biggest fan when he was at Arsenal, but he is an experienced keeper having played in the Champions League, and will be able to handle the pressure of playing for West Ham in the Championship.

I am confident that he will fill the role until Green is fit again.

Another player making his debut against Palace was Papa Bouba Diop, who provided protection for the back four.

He replaced the injured Mark Noble and thrived on the physical nature of the Championship.

Of course, he is a completely different midfielder to Noble, but if the defence need protecting, then Diop is the man and is probably the one player in the squad that can fill that particular defensive hole left by Scott Parker.

The amount of injuries definitely affected Sam Allardyce’s squad on Saturday, and it just goes to show the strength in depth needed for this long, Championship season.

There are 46 games to play excluding any cup competitions, and our squad is the best in the league.

Captaining that squad is Kevin Nolan, who was on the scoresheet again at the weekend.

I know that Nolan hasn’t been playing at his best in recent weeks, but he was bought for reasons both on and off the field and he has settled the dressing room following the club’s relegation from the top flight.

Although he may not be playing brilliantly, he is scoring goals and I have every confidence in him.

I think we should judge his performances after five years, not after five weeks.

We are 10 games into the season now and there have been some ups and downs already.

Obviously losing to Aldershot in the Carling Cup was a huge blow, as were the defeats at home to Cardiff and Ipswich.

Our away form has been great though, and with 18 points already, we are on course for a top six finish.

It would be great to finish in the top two, but I would love to see us have a day out at Wembley with the Play-Offs.

We may be four points off the top, but there are plenty of matches to play between now and the end of the season.

Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John