In the week that dressing room unity has been questioned at St James’s Park, Newcastle United face West Ham. And, of course, Kevin Nolan.
Few players did more to unite what was a fractured and dejected dressing room in the wake of the club’s relegation four years ago than Nolan.
Nolan left the summer before last after failing to agree teams on a new deal. The club moved on. He moved on.
It’s fair to say few fans bemoaned his absence from Alan Pardew’s side last season.
The club’s talented French signings were lauded, none more so than Yohan Cabaye, who has captained United in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini over the past two months.
Cabaye, effectively Nolan’s replacement, is one of the most gifted footballers to have represented the club in the Premier League era.
The quality United need above all right now is character, and that’s what Nolan brought to the table along with his uncanny ability to time his runs to the box.
Cabaye has gone missing on and off the field in recent weeks. His form’s dipped, and he hasn’t spoken for the team as stand-in captain.
When he plays well, the team plays well. It’s that simple.
Supporters’ frustrations have been primarily been aimed towards Pardew – who is under intense pressure – but some have also been asking whether their team, for all its talent, has the stomach for a fight.
They’ll soon find out.