At the last game at Upton Park you could feel the connection between the fans and our captain Mark Noble, I was so proud we had a proper Hammer leading us in such a historic game and you could see from his performance and his reaction at the end what it meant to him to be involved in such an occasion.
The move to the London Stadium has been turbulent for everyone, the stadium is not Upton Park and the problems have been well documented. Noble has been pushed forward by the club to be the voice of the move and the poster boy of West Ham’s brave new world. The truth is Noble will have the same reservations every fan has about the move but he is the captain of the club and by definition has to be supportive of the board’s decisions or at least be seen to be supportive. At various times this season Noble has defended the stadium move, Dimitri Payet, Slaven Bilic, Simone Zaza, and the team as a whole, and finally, he has had to defend himself from the critics both inside the ground and on social media. Noble has been short of form in a team short of form but he never hides, always wants the ball and is always trying to drive the team forward.
Last season Noble was one of the best central midfielders in the country, his performances stood direct comparison to the much vaunted Danny Drinkwater, he led West Ham superbly and made those around him better players. Noble has all the hallmarks of true West Ham legend, fundamentally he is a fan, one of us and deserves better than the vitriol he has faced over the past month or so. Noble has stayed with the club through relegation and all the highs and lows the club has been through and no doubt could have moved club at various times, he has stayed loyal to the club at a time when loyalty is such a rare commodity.
Last season West Ham had a clear identity and Noble was integral to that. This season, without Payet and struggling for a consistent striking option, West Ham have struggled to match the heights of last year and Noble has struggled. There are signs that the years are catching up with him and at times he has looked ponderous on the ball but Noble needs to be looked at as a member of an underachieving team rather than a symbol of it.
On the whole, I still feel that West Ham are a better team with Noble leading it. No one in the team uses the ball better than him, for all Kouyate’s athleticism he is very prone to being caught out of position and with Obiang out Noble must start against Hull.
Noble’s form will return I have no doubt about that, class is permanent. He is the underdog, the boy who won’t give up his dream to play for England or his love for West Ham despite the obstacles, he is a player with loyalty and integrity two qualities that are to be admired in a person, I am proud to have him Captain our club, he knows who he is , he does his job and when does that it makes the team better hopefully he will have the armband bank this Saturday.