I feel the need to defend a Noble man.
Mark Noble limped out of the pre-season friendly Saturday against Werder Bremen with an ankle injury, that though did not dampen the twitterrati attack on him by many West Ham fans for his performance in the first half of the 2-2 draw in Germany, many who it seems have short memories.
No player should just be picked to play for the team on merit, but for me Noble if fit, should be the first name on the team sheet. He is the club captain and that alone should see him picked, an honour that he has earned not just through his loyalty but in his performances for the club over the past 12 years. He has been the constant player in the upheaval the club has gone through over that period and he has played for every manager that has been at the club since 2004, when he made his debut under Alan Pardew.
West Ham have only ever had 15 managers in our history so the fact he has played under 6 of them probably means he holds the record for a West ham player playing under the most managers.
No Flair Player
Noble admits himself he is no flair player and in midfield he does a lot of the donkey work breaking up the play and linking up between the defence, to take the ball and trying to engineer attacking moves. He though is not the only player at the club that can fulfil that role and it seems many of the fan base prefer Pedro Obiang to slot in. Tom Nott on this very website last week when summarizing the possible strongest 11 for the coming season failed to put Noble in the team, preferring the Obiang Kouyate partnership in the middle.
We as fans expect, even demand loyalty off players, just look at how hammers fans have treated those that have in their eyes, betrayed them. Paul Ince, Jermaine Defoe and the new snake in the pack, Dimitri Payet, all having faced abuse from the fans for walking out on the club when they were at their peak or approaching it in Defoe’s case and yet here we have the most loyal of players in the club’s recent history, a player so steeped in the club that aged 13 he was a ball boy at the old Boleyn ground, sitting on front of the Bare pit that was the Chicken Run. A player that just over 12 months ago the majority of West Ham fans were demanding he be included in the England squad for the European championship tournament and yet it seems many now see him as the weakest link of our midfielders and wave him goodbye.
To me that is disrespectful to him, a boy that has loved the club since he possibly could walk and talk, a man born and brought up in the heartland of the club, Canning Town and one of only two players to be born in West Ham., and Captain West Ham, since the war, Ken Brown snr being the other. He is the only player in recent memory I can think has cried after a defeat and there was no finer player to lead the club as we bade farewell to our old spiritual; home in 2016.
As a fellow Towner, I follow the mantra I was brought up with, “We look after our own”, perhaps if many more West Ham fans were from the area and not out of Towners as I like to call them, then they would realise that we should never turn on one of our own.
I’m sure Mark Noble would not want his place in the team undeservedly, he would want it on merit, and I for one believe he has still done enough on merit to deserve his place as the leader of this club.