Mark, Declan, and Staying Up

Author: . Published: at 8:44am


Written by: FarehamHammer

No, I am not a Noble ‘hater’ but we have got to get real. Starting Mark Noble is relegation suicide. Time to pass the captaincy baton on to Declan Rice. It never fails to amuse me how the Noble twitter police operate – they ABSOLUTELY cane the likes of Anderson, Haller, Lanzini, Diop, and Fornals and in fact most of our squad for poor performances. True, some do deserve it – but Noble gets off scott free. Excuse after excuse is made for Noble because he is one of our ‘own.’

Dropping Fornals to play Noble in his place against Manchester City, was managerial cowardice from David Moyes. The Owners know it, the manager knows it, and us fans know it. The real problem with the team is the midfield, and chief culprit is Mark Noble. It was obvious what Moyes intended to do against Manchester City – for the defence  to stand up to Manchester City and to hit them on the break. How on earth does that work David? You can’t find place for Noble as a CM with Souceck on board, so you decide to push the slowest person in the squad out wide, and you wanted to hit City on the counter?

The performance against Liverpool, was hugely encouraging. We pushed the best Club in the world, every inch of the way. Yes, Fabianski’s blunders cost us at least a point. Again, Noble was poor – slower than a snail and easily rattled. Like an ageing boxer who was once a great, now a mere shadow of his former self. Noble tried but to no avail. Eventually we were overrun in midfield, allowing Liverpool to push us further back with each passing minute. The pressure eventually simply became too much, and as a result the world champions scored two late goals, running out fortunate winners.

It is laughable some stuff his supporters come up with, in their efforts to defend Noble: “He loves the Club, he plays with PASSION! He is good in the dressing room.”

Sigh. Well you and I both love the Club and are passionate about the Club – so on that basis we should also be picked? As for good in the dressing room bit, I beg to differ. I think he has started to lose the dressing room, as the players know he gets a free pass into the team. Noble’s on field row with Angelo Ogbonna was the action of someone under severe pressure. It is not the first time, Noble has reacted like that when under pressure. James Collins had to bail him out a few times when he was still playing. The opposition know Noble is the weak link in midfield and target him. When Noble does get forward, the opposition close him down quickly, take the ball off him quickly and slice through our midfield like a knife through butter. Absolute NO protection for the defence with a virtual white flag of surrender flown inviting the opposition a free run at goal. Even the best of defences would crack under such pressure.

Noble has slowed down so much this season that the opposition virtually walk pass him. The ball gets passed to Noble in midfield, the opposition close him down quickly, he either gets dispossessed, passes the ball straight to the opposition, gives a free kick away in a dangerous position, or shovels a hurried back pass to a under pressure defence. As for going forward and supporting our striker or strikers, with Noble in the team – NO CHANCE ! Our strikers are left isolated with no support. Haller has had to drop so deep to receive the ball, he has been almost been on the half way line at times. Then people wonder why Haller has lost form and confidence. He needs to be receiving the ball on the front foot with support and then he will score goals. Football is NOT rocket science. You either carry the ball forward from midfield, the opposition retreat, then spaces open up like the red sea for your strikers to exploit – or you take the ball wide and get around defences that way. Where to now for Mark Noble? Time to hand over the captaincy baton to Declan Rice, with immediate effect. I would still have Noble coming off the bench for the last 10-15 minutes to see a game out. Next season keep him on the Coaching staff – working with the under 18’s would be a good start. It would be a great way for Noble to cut his teeth coaching wise.

Many have been critical of Declan Rice’s performances this season. Well I am not surprised in the least, as at times he has had to carry the midfield and has been left absolutely isolated with no support. As a result his form and confidence has suffered -but in the last few games he has come to light, pointing to players where to go. He’s been here there and everywhere on the pitch charging up field with the ball. Rice has been a delight to watch. In a difficult season, Rice has certainly had to mature very quickly. It is time to make him permanent Captain of West Ham United. Time for a new leader and direction. It reminds me so much what  a previous Club  legend, Malcom Allison, told Dad and I, when I was a young nipper back in 1996. We bumped into him by chance, in The Embassy in Manchester. He got talking to Dad, and he talked about when a certain Bobby Moore took over from him as Club Captain. Allison called Moore ‘Robert’. He explained that he had fought back from TB, which was a killer disease back in time. He had spent the whole season away recovering and West Ham got promoted that season. The first game back was against Manchester United; Bobby Moore was picked and not Big Mal. Allison knew he was finished at West Ham. Dad asked him if he found it hard to take. Big Mal replied “No. Robert was a class act even then. At all football Clubs you have a change of guard at some point.” It is time for Captain Rice.    

I said so in my last post we will stay up. The defeats against Manchester City and Liverpool have not altered my opinion. However, many have said that we are to good to go down. Well we all know what happened in 2003 don’t we. We simply MUST beat Southampton; defeat is not worth thinking about. Living on the South Coast, I can tell you The Saints will be far from a pushover. They press well all over the park, have pace in the side, and take a lot of shots at goal…although they are not are not great finishers. They are very much a Jekyll and Hyde side; either very good one match then shocking the next. Last weekend, they played Aston Villa off the park. Let’s hope that this weekend they have a off day. We need to be very careful in regards to Danny Ings, who is on red hot form – but we are a better side, and I expect us to take all three points. Time to be positive and attack them from the off.

When I look back at today’s squad and the squad we had ten years ago, there is no comparison .Back then we had the likes of Savio, Hines, Sears, Franco, Kovac, Ilan, Boa Morte, Diamanti, Ruud Boffin (Roberto’s Belgian Cousin) – ‘Loans are us’ was our slogan. The famed Academy of Football was on it’s knees. I never thought that we would ever have signed some of the footballers we have managed to do: Anderson, Haller, Fornals, Lanzini, Soucek, Bowen would have been a pipe dream back then. With the emergence of Rice, and now Ngakia, is every indication that The Academy once more is delivering quality and not quantity. Get this season out of the way and the future is very much Claret and Blue.

We need to build on the players we have got. It is a case of getting a good director of football in and giving him the freedom to reorganize the Club from top to bottom. Setting up a top scouting network, discovering top talent and signing the talent up early.

The Board and fans? Just a suggestion – perhaps Karren Brady could have a look at some of the ridiculous life bans and overturn them, for starters. I look forward to the day that we are all West Ham United; that the black balloons have been replaced by Claret and Blue Balloons, we are at Wembley having won the FA Cup! We are more than a football club, we’re a way of life! COYI!!