Date: 6th April 2009 at 7:25am
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Newcastle United suffered yet another defeat over the weekend as Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners on a day special for every Geordie with Alan Shearer taking charge of the team for the first time. Yet, it was not Shearer or any coaching error which made the night a miserable one, but rather the plights of substandard players who did not know how to defend, or even complete a pass.

Kevin Nolan, the £4 million January arrival from Bolton Wanderers was one of them. It is hard to imagine that only two years ago Nolan was being tipped for an England call, but now, the player looks tired, slow, and totally devoid of judgment, or decision-making on the pitch.

For years of excellent service at The Reebok stadium, Nolan was titled, ‘Mr Bolton’ and he lived up to the name flourishing under Sam Allardyce, and even showing his formidable defensive, and goalscoring chops under Gary Megson, but what has become of him now?

He was sent off against Everton after a hard tackle on Victor Anichebe – missing the next three games in the process when United were deep in injury crisis. On his return he has been less than stellar, looking immobile, unimaginative, and lacking sharpness.

Alan Shearer recognized such when he substituted the player against Chelsea deep in the second-half. No body knows what is wrong with Nolan, in fact. He made only a handful of correct passes, with the rest either being intercepted, or going to an opponent player.

It was schoolboy errors all the way. It is shambolic to give away possession on as many occasions as Nolan did, and that is not acceptable. He was so bad, even Nicky Butt looked light-years ahead of him in ability.

The 26-year-old is only a shadow of the player he was at his old club, and one may consider his Toon career a failure to the day. The Magpies’ only hope is for Joey Barton to come back relatively soon from injury, and join Danny Guthrie in central midfield. Mr Bolton, and Nicky Butt can warm the bench from here on in.