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No exit regrets for Nolan
West Ham match-winner Kevin Nolan insists there is no animosity between himself and the Newcastle United hierarchy after his departure from the club last year.
Nolan returned to St James Park on Sunday and scored the only goal to give Sam Allardyce's men victory. It was his first time back on Tyneside following his £4million move to Upton Park almost 18 months ago after which he aimed a thinly veiled swipe at Newcastle's decision makers. Nolan signed a five-year deal with the Hammers, where he teamed up with his former Bolton and Newcastle manager Allardyce, and immediately hinted the length of the deal was always key in his decision.
It is understood he had asked Newcastle's owner Mike Ashley for a five-year deal and was frustrated when they were only prepared to offer him the option of a third year, which would have seen his £42,000-a-week wage rise to £50,000 dependent on the team's success. However, with the dust having settled and Nolan having had the last laugh on Sunday, the 30-year-old insists there are no hard feelings.
"People have opinions. I'm a big man and I can take them. I needed to get the best for me and they needed to get what they felt was the best for them," Nolan said.
"I'd shake the owner's hand as willingly as I'd shake Alan's (Pardew) because I got on well with them, they were good to me. I hope there is no animosity between us. I built up a great relationship with people while I was here."
Pardew paid Nolan a huge compliment prior to Sunday's match, calling the former Bolton man the best midfield finisher in the Premier League. Nolan said:
"That was nice to read. I've got a lot of great memories, except for the relegation.
"I've got a lot of respect for Alan and he has for me. I thank him for those words. It put a tint to what I tried to achieve up here."
Nolan was a key figure in the Newcastle dressing room prior to his departure and helped the club finish 12th in their first season back in the Premier League after relegation to the Championship in 2009. Nolan wasn't the only key figure to leave St James' Park, though, with Andy Carroll, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique also moving on. However, despite losing such influential players, Newcastle finished fifth last season, earning a place in the Europa League. So far, Pardew's side have done their job in Europe and sit top of Group D, but their Premier League form appears to have taken a hit with the team 11 points short of their total at the same time last year.
"It's going to be tough, Nolan said. "They've had some massive players out like Coloccini and Tiote.
"They are probably two of their best and most influential players so it was important we tried to take advantage of that.
"After the Europa League, it is difficult when you haven't got the massive squad you need to be able to attack both competitions. It's going to affect you."
Nolan also believes the club's future is looking bright with the youngsters coming through, but believes they need the likes of Coloccini and Tiote back if they are to start climbing the league. He said:
"Young Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi, I've seen them at close quarters and it's great to see them getting on the pitch. They deserve it.
"Alan's doing a great job, managing the Europa League and the Premier League. Where they are now is probably a fair reflection of what they've achieved.
"When they get everybody back, Cheik and Colo, they will start rising the league."
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