Who could captain West Ham in Mark Noble’s absence?
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 7 August 2019 at 12:38pm
Written by : @levylife
“O Captain, My Captain!” wrote Walt Whitman following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The poem bursts with sadness and mourning for a ship’s fallen captain and how all hope is lost without the steadfast hand of comfort upon deck.
Mark Noble’s absence from West Ham’s starting eleven may not be as dramatic as the murder of a US President but it still presents an intriguing question as to who should take up the mantle vacated by the Canning Town man, forced either through injury or Pellegrini’s selection.
Noble embodies West Ham and understands what it means to captain the club. He is a throwback to a bygone age of local lad done good. However, as the club we know and love metamorphoses into an all together different entity, the question of a new captain becomes ever more pressing.
There are several pathways to take, each with their own positives and negatives. Experience over youth, passion over pragmatism, nature over nurture are all arguments one could make for members of the squad.
Here are three who could slip into the space left behind by Noble in both the short and long-term.
Fan favourite Rice would represent a natural heir to Noble’s armband. A West Ham fan, an Academy product and midfield controller, it would make sense for Rice to assume the responsibility. Not only would it demonstrate the club’s confidence and admiration for the youngster, but also add another caveat to Rice’s game, giving him the role of leader.
It shouldn’t be underestimated the impact of entrusting a youngster with the captaincy. One needs only cast their mind back to the early part of this century when a baby-faced Joe Cole was made captain and saw his game elevate to another level. Rice could see this same trajectory, and at such a critical point in his development, transform him into an elite Premier League talent.
The General. It’s in the name, really. The Paraguayan was captain at his former club Corinthians and has become a stalwart in the West Ham side. Despite his shaky pre-season form, he is still the club’s best centre-half and if he can stay injury free, he will surely start most games this season.
Some may point the finger at his lack of fluency in English, but this can also be a moot point. A large contingent of the Hammers side is Spanish speaking and any instructions on the pitch can be easily communicated.
At 27, he also has several years at the top of his game and could provide the perfect foil for a developing Rice to eventually take the reins in a post-Noble and Balbuena world.
A slightly left-field choice perhaps but it could also be a masterstroke. Whilst Aaron Cresswell and Pablo Zabaleta have acted as captains in Noble’s absence, the uncertainty over their starting positions could allow for an experienced Premier League operator to take the armband.
Wilshere, much like Rice, could see his game elevated with the addition of the captaincy. His knowledge of the game is second to none and he sees patterns and options appear before they’ve even begun to develop.
To have a captain on the pitch who can pull the strings, link defence and attack and be a vocal influence is a triple whammy. Pellegrini, based on pre-season, also sees Wilshere as a key figure for the upcoming season and a starting eleven spot seems nailed on for the former Arsenal man.
Injury could be his undoing, as it has so often in his past, but with vision like a periscope and experience that outstrips many others in the squad, Wilshere could be the captain we never knew we needed.