Written by Daniel Fisk @fisko27
While social media may well represent the opinion of a small minority that shout the loudest, I can’t help but feel embarrassed by what seems to be a rising swell of negatively towards Mark Noble.
I don’t think there is much argument between Hammer’s fans as to Mark Noble’s status at the club; ‘Mr West Ham’ embodies the loyalty, passion and commitment seen so rarely in today’s game, and watching a boyhood fan captain the club is something to be cherished.
Increasingly though, Noble’s form seems to have led to increasingly vocal sections of our support calling for him to be dropped from the starting eleven.
I fully support the idea that any team selection should be made on merit. Elite football is a pure meritocracy in which previous achievements and personality mean little if a player isn’t doing the business on the pitch. And I don’t think that Mark Noble should be picked indefinitely just because he is an inspirational captain and club legend.
However, I he think he deserves a lot more respect and I think the attitude of certain West Ham fans towards him is embarrassing.
Personally I think the criticism of his form is overdone. The usual gripes of “he gives the ball away” or “he slows the play down too much” are ignorant. Mark Noble shows bravery on the ball that others don’t, and too often he lacks the support of players making forward runs beyond our striker.
This season the usual shout is to drop Noble and start Kouyate and Obiang in the middle. Slav hasn’t gone for that much and there will be a reason behind that. Although I think Kouyate has filled in well as part of a back three this season, as a midfielder I think he has regressed from the dynamic box-to-box player that burst on to scene in 2014.
Slav dropping Noble means his dropping his lieutenant on the pitch and the biggest leader in the dressing room, and clearly this holds sway with the manager.
The fact is our win record is also significantly better in games when Mark Noble starts.
One-club-legends like Mark Noble are a rare breed, and I think we should be proud that we have one as our captain. I hope Mark gets a bit more respect from certain quarters as he approaches the latter stages of his career as a guaranteed starter for West Ham.