Alan Pardew's side have gone from a top-five finish last season to a relegation scrap this term and head to Upton Park just five points above the drop zone, having played a game more than third-bottom Wigan.
Nolan was part of the Magpies side that gained promotion back to the Premier League in 2010 and, amid reports of dressing rifts that Pardew has been forced to deny, has urged the current crop at St James' Park to pull together.
"It's surprised me about what's going on," said Nolan. "But it's about them standing up, being counted because they've had the praise over the past year or so and now it's about stepping up to the mark and making sure that they keep the club up.
"It's amazing but that's Premier League football but they've had to juggle Europe, the only time I've had the chance to see them was in Europe and each time they seem to have been shot down in a blaze. They lost the derby and then last week lost 6-0 [to Liverpool]."
Asked if there was a danger of cliques forming in a squad, Nolan added: "I've been in relegation battles for a lot of my career and that's always the massive worry because people start going, 'it's his fault, not mine. I've done all right'.
"You don't want that. You want to be able to look the other lads in the eye and be able to say that no matter what happens today, this is us, this is what we're about and we're going to give it a good go.
"They have got to make sure that when the little cliques come then they have
to stick together as a team, as a whole, as a group."
On Saturday's reunion with the side he still holds dear, he said: "It is my old club coming to my new club so I am looking forward to it.
"I wish the circumstances for them could be a bit better but that is not my concern any more. My concern is this club. I love being here. I enjoy it and I am looking forward, hopefully, to West Ham winning on Saturday."