Here at CCN we don’t tend to get involved with transfer speculation. While I really believe that most of what you read in the papers has *some* grain of truth to it, most deals don’t end up happening.
There’s one deal I do hope happens: Kevin Nolan.
At Bolton Nolan was a functional player. Sam Allardyce got a bad name for the kind of football his team played, but they were extraordinarily successful doing it. You wouldn’t want to watch them – the time wasting, the constant reduction of the game to set pieces, the high balls into dangerous areas – these are not fun things for fans. But equally, fans like results, and Nolan and Allardyce got them.
Nolan became captain of Bolton and of Newcastle, too. He must have something about him. But the main thing is the goals (and the points they earned). He seems to have played in a variety of roles in his career, and his size means he’s not about to interest the likes of Barcelona any time soon, but he’s very effective. 17 goals in the Championship is a fine return for someone not playing as a forward; 12 last season (in 30 games) is equally impressive.
The argument that he’s 29 and therefore at the wrong end of his career is hard to counter, but against that, Fulham are simply not going to be in the market for young players of quality. Look at the Jones, Smalling and Henderson deals – we can’t get involved in that sort of thing. We can bring in players from overseas, or continue to feast on players slightly beyond their (high) peaks, knowing that they’re still more than good enough for Fulham.
The thing is, if Jordan Henderson goes on to be as good as Kevin Nolan he’ll have done alright. United will be aiming higher, of course, but these things aren’t guaranteed: young players are a gamble. Nolan is not a gamble because his value is established. He won’t improve particularly, he won’t have much resale value, but he’ll be sure to play 3-4 seasons at a high level.
There needs to be a gradual move towards a younger squad, but if we can’t find a good way to do this (and it isn’t easy) then the trick will (as I think b+w_geezer may have said here) be to continually bring in good 29 year olds to maintain what we do have. This buys the time to introduce younger players as required (there has to be a transition; you can’t just wait then change everyone in 2014).
So I’d see Nolan as part of a bridge towards a younger Fulham, a leader, a player to ensure that we’re equipped for all kinds of opponent. He has played in the North for his entire career, so I have no idea how likely a move might be, but it’s something I’d love to see happen.