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Wils 4:04 Mon Sep 23
Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian

This is not a bear pit,” one of the Sky pundits said of West Ham’s new home on Sunday. “This is not the old Upton Park.” In geographical, architectural and atmospheric terms, no dispute there. But one man in the claret and blue performed against Manchester United as though he had made his way to work past the market stalls and the Boleyn pub on Green Street and stopped for pie and mash at Nathan’s before taking to the pitch with the hot breath of the crowd on his neck and the anthems of the home supporters shaking the old stands. And that player won the man of the match award.

A couple of minutes before half-time, Mark Noble received the ball from Issa Diop outside the right-hand corner of the United penalty area. He could have played a quick pass down the line into the path of Andriy Yarmolenko. Instead, seeing that the Ukrainian forward was likely to run offside, he paused, feinted to turn and pass inside, turned back the other way before turning full circle, drawing defenders towards him. Then he played the simplest possible square ball to Felipe Anderson, unmarked on his left five yards away. The Brazilian’s instant straight pass found Yarmolenko, running across the face of the goal and squeezing a shot inside the left-hand post.

Noble had spent five seconds on the ball. In that time he had seen and assessed the moving geometry of the 13 outfield players lying ahead of him. He had used a decade and a half of experience as a first-team player, as a leader and a thinker on the pitch. That little pass – so modest, so unostentatious, so right – opened the way to victory for his team. The win was sealed 40 minutes later when he tumbled over Ashley Young’s poorly timed challenge five or six yards outside the area. Aaron Cresswell, having skimmed the bar with a similar effort a few minutes earlier, stepped up to curl the free kick inside the right-hand post. West Ham, who lay 17th in the table at this time last year, are now fifth, under a captain who incarnates a set of values all too easy to ignore but around which any decent team must be constructed.

How their opponents could have done with such a player. Instead they had Juan Mata, a player of similar function, greater gifts and bigger reputation who was able to make no comparable contribution. Wearing washed-out gold shirts, United performed much as we have seen them do over the years in pale grey or faded pink. More than an away-kit rethink, however, they require a player of real character to set the example that keeps the rest of them honest.

Noble is such a player. He is 32 years old, a year older than Mata. He was 13 when he joined the youth scheme of his local club after his father decided that the journey from Beckton to Arsenal’s training ground was too far. The Gunners’ loss was the Hammers’ gain. At 15 Noble became the youngest player to appear in their reserve team. He made his first-team debut at 17 and at 18 he was playing in the Premier League. Since then he has made 470 senior appearances for the club.

If you want to get an idea of his value, look at the list of managers under whom he has served: Alan Pardew, Alan Curbishley, Gianfranco Zola, Avram Grant, Sam Allardyce, Slaven Bilic, David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini. Consider the variations in approach represented by that parade of contrasting characters, and think what qualities of flexibility and resilience as well as talent must have enabled Noble to survive as a first-choice player under each of them.

He was selected to represent England at every level from under-16 to under-21, sometimes given the captaincy, but has never been awarded a senior cap. In that he evokes the memory of Billy Bonds, another West Ham idol noted for resolve and longevity. Bonds was physically bigger and stronger than Noble, a wing-half converted to central defence, but no more vital a pillar of the side than the younger man. Bonds was picked once for England while Ron Greenwood, formerly of West Ham, was in charge of the national side, but did not make it off the bench.

There is a line between being a very good player in the league and being an international, and maybe successive managers have been correct in deciding that Noble would not manage to cross it. If Paul Scholes, at his best in a similar inside-forward role, could not be accommodated, then what hope for a player whose creative gifts are not so exquisitely honed? Noble’s lack of ego would probably count against him at the very highest level, just as Ray Wilkins – a first-team captain from the age of 18 – was hobbled as an England player by the altruism that persuaded him to defer to players of lesser talent.

What Noble does – what José Mourinho, finding a charming malapropism to describe Roberto Firmino after another of Sunday’s matches, called “horsework” – is unflashy and sometimes unpretty. Like Scholes, he can endanger his team with tackling that lacks the precision of a true defensive midfielder, and the card he received for a challenge on Aaron Wan-Bissaka with the score at 1-0 might easily have been red. But he stayed on the pitch, helping his team to confound those of us who believed that the move to Stratford under the triumvirate of David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady would be the end of them. Not a player to worship, perhaps, but certainly one to cherish.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Sven Roeder 9:30 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
I thought we needed to get a better player in the summer to play with Rice but still wanted Noble to be there to fill the gaps and do what he does around the dressing room.
The foreign players always say how good is in helping them settle in and you DO need the influence of someone who knows what it means to beat Spurs etc
Agree he could do another couple of seasons in that role.
I expect he will end up on the coaching staff or working with the kids after that.

Lertie Button 8:44 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
From the moment he hit the first team he wasn't considered quite good enough. Well well 15 years later he's still here and still performing at the highest level, I fucking love him, best thing ever to come out of Canning Town

chedylan 2 7:18 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
We live to talk about nobes!
Until such a day that we invest in a proper top draw box to box midfielder, it is noble that is first 11. We know his strengths we know his weaknesses. Truth is whenever he has the chance to play with better players (tevez Parker payet most our current midfield) he becomes a better player rather then the weak link.

Moncurs Putting Iron 6:48 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Not having to shoulder the burden alone this year either.

More grown ups and happy players and fewer prima donnas and moaners around the squad than I can remember for the last two decades.

crystal falace 6:05 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Living in the midlands most of my mates dont follow west ham, mostly Man utd and liverpool fans (shock)

Their general consensus on noble is that he's a mid-lower prem team plodder and the only reason he hasnt left us is because he wouldnt get into anyone else at our level.

Now some of that may be true he definitely has his limitations but as they only watch us against the "big" teams its understandable as he can be seen as a bit lost in games where we are being dominated.

But they don't see the games against the teams around us when he does take control of games and almost everything runs through him, not to mention all the huge intangibles he brings to the team, he may not be the most talented player in our squad but there is absolutely no doubt that we are a far better team with him in it.

SUM A DING WONG 5:59 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
I have to say, that although I've always liked Noble, I've always had this feeling of "we need better", if we're to really progress.

To be fair to Noble, that's as much down to our poor mis management over the years, as it is his own shortcomings.

When there's more protection for him defensively and better players for him to pass to and when he's playing further forward, he really comes in to his own and flourishes.

I think with the way he looks after himself, I still feel although maybe not week in, week out there's another two possibly three years left in him.

letsalldotheBarthez 5:46 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Great article. He's a legend to me as much as Bonds.

If we were to win a cup with Nobes, I wonder where that put him in the opinion of other fans?

The longevity, the amount of crap he's seen and had to play with, plus the fact he's a local lad and West Ham . He deserves it (we all bloody do!) and it would be amazing to top off his excellent club career, unquestionably pushing him higher up to club legend status.

Please don't screw us over on this years cup runs West Ham.

Mex Martillo 5:01 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Nice, glad Nobles is betting some credit

WHUDeano 5:00 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Pagey 4:12 Tue Sep 24

That is absolutely spot on actually, never really considered it like that. Always just saw him as a poor version of Scott Parker, but now is maybe the first time he's really been given the licence to dictate play in the middle knowing he's got one of the best defensive midfielders in the prem covering behind him. Not to mention the superior runs being made off the ball by the likes of Haller, Yarmo, Anderson & Lanzini, he can obviously pick out a pass, he now has the experience and know how to instinctively know when to delay a pass. He is thriving, could be the perfect storm for Noble & definitely wouldn't begrudge him a late England call up - I certainly don't see Jordan Henderson as being of a different class to him.

crystal falace 4:15 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
I do think Rice is the big difference, seems in years past Nobes was being asked to be a proper holding midfielder which he is ok at but does not allow him to really flourish.

gph 4:13 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
I suspect fordstar will be back when the years really do catch up with Noble.

And claim that the past-it Noble has always been like that...

Pagey 4:12 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Noble is a much better player when he has better players around him.

He was brilliant in the Tevez season, the same when Payet was here and again he’s at the top of his game when we have more quality going forward.

He’s definitely had his low points and loss of form over the years but right now he makes us tick and his experience is invaluable.

Mr Anon 4:08 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian

Tomshardware 11:00 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian

Where is Fordstar?

seriously though, where is he? did he have a Valjean moment and realise he's wasted his life berating a good man? did he just give up? did he morph into vexed and choose a new target?

zebthecat 4:08 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
"I wanted him sold three years ago"

That'll be the season he was playing while injured and the club packed him off for a double hernia op as soon as the season finished.

WHUDeano 4:02 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Started a thread on Declan Rice after the game on Sunday, but could easily have been about Noble. I have followed his career from when he was a teenager and a good friend of mine recommended him as the best teenage prospect since Joe Cole (my friends dad was good mates with Roger Cross so was often tipped on youth).

The truth is, I've never particularly rated him, in my mind he became synonymous with underachievement. Being a one club man is a fantastic achievement, however for me it is slightly tainted by the fact that in reality he has never been good enough for the top level....until, it seems, now.

His level of performance, consistency, passion and quality is currently making him a stand out player in what is probably the most talented West Ham team since the turn of the century. At 32yrs old, this is quite an achievement and he deserves all the plaudits and success he will go on to get this season if he keeps up his current levels of performance. Keeping him fit is absolutely to our success - have seen him mentioned previously as Pellegrini's Pirlo, and why not? He's obviously a good lad, he's been with us through the few good and many, many bad times and seems to now be leading us through to the fabled other side - the 'next level'.

Would absolutely love to see him be the first captain since Billy Bonds to lift a trophy. We've certainly not had any captains more worthy since the great man himself.

JonWHUFC 3:46 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
I have stuck up for Noble in the past and always recognised how technically good at the game he is. He is not blessed with pace granted but loves the club, is a one man club, very rarely injured, great engine, can tackle, can pass, can link up play well, is happy to do the donkey work and give the ball to the better players (his words), leads the team well, makes new players welcome and his penalty record is superb. I am glad he is getting some good press and I think Pellegrini recognises his value to the team. That in itself is praise indeed. I enjoy his column in the Standard on Friday's so hope he continues doing that. He is very fair and objective. Ticks all the boxes in my book and I have a lot of admiration for him both on and off the pitch. Keep going Nobes.

BillC79 2:16 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Also in the Guardian football section today is the below quote from Matty Taylor - the article is about how fierce the South Coast Derby is between Southampton and Portsmouth and they have ex players and managers talking about it:

"Matty Taylor

Portsmouth midfielder, 2002-08

......I was lucky to be involved in such a fiercely contested game. It’s not as bad as playing for West Ham at Millwall and the coach getting bricked; this one is tame compared to that, believe me. But you realise it is a different feel because of the increased security and police presence. Even the intensity and atmosphere around the warm-up is taken up a level."

Darlo Debs 11:02 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Saw a stat yesterday that under Pellegrini, we have only won 18% of games when Noblle hasn't played.

Tomshardware 11:00 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
Where is Fordstar?

HairyHammer 10:19 Tue Sep 24
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
If West ham play well Noble is nearly always one of the most important and probably best players when we play bad he is lost and rubbish, he is definitely not Scott Parker who was nearly always the best player whether West ham played good or shit and that has not helped Noble because we fans have good memories and want players to die on the pitch.
Every manager who comes in puts Noble on the sheet first he must be good I wanted him sold three years ago I was wrong very wrong.

Texas Iron 10:53 Mon Sep 23
Re: Mark Noble gets his own article in the Guardian
You are correct...
Rice is our defensive midfielder ...so Noble can play further forward and be more creative...

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