West Ham captain: Criticism gave us a real boost
12:00 17 October 2016
PA Archive/Press Association Images
Hammers skipper Mark Noble felt his side were tremendous at Crystal Palace
West Ham skipper Mark Noble came out of the tunnel to meet the press with a look of relief more than delight on his face.
A Hammers fan himself, the Canning Town-born player has seen it all over the years in claret and blue, but this start to the season had clearly stung him as much as the rest of the supporters.
“I am not sure it was nerves, it was a little bit of everything,” said the 29-year-old when asked whether Saturday’s 1-0 win would calm the nerves in the squad.
“I have been involved for 12 or 13 years now and it is not nice to pick up your phone and read how bad we are.
“People were saying this and that about us and I watched the TV this morning and pundits were showing how bad our defending was and I think that was a little boost for us, just to show that we do really, really care.”
Noble had been criticised by some fans on social media when he suggested that if the supporters could not get behind the team when they needed them, what was the point of supporting the club.
It was clear though that came from the heart and Noble put in a swashbuckling display on Saturday, darting all round the ground, winning tackles and getting booked for an over-exuberant one.
“We had a lot of criticism for how our results have gone and I was speaking earlier in the week and I felt I had to be honest and say how it was,” he continued.
“I thought we were tremendous. To go down to 10 men at a place like this with Conor Wickham and Benteke up top, I think the boys defended superbly and it was a top, top win for us.”
It was. It had echoes of some of last season’s away performances and it was done without a huge influence from star man Dimitri Payet, who was on the periphery for much of the game.
One change that manager Slaven Bilic made was to play three at the back with Cheikhou Kouyate dropping into the defence. So what was the thinking behind that?
“I just think they had Benteke and he has been a massive player for them in the last few months, everything goes through him now. But ‘Check’ is so good in the air. Him, Angelo and ‘Reidy’ and with Cresswell coming back and setting up the goal, just showed that we played like a proper team.”
One difference in the last couple of games has been the inclusion of Pedro Obiang alongside the skipper and Noble is certainly impressed by what he has done.
“He has made a difference,” said Noble. “Obviously he is really fit and athletic and in the last couple of games he has played really well and I think me and him sitting there and holding and Dimi and Manu (Lanzini) creating problems upfield really worked well.”
It was Lanzini who grabbed the all-important goal and the captain hailed the build-up as well as the finish.
“It was a great finish and a great ball in by ‘Cress’ as well,” he said. “To be fair, it was a great move, we kept the ball for about 15 passes down the left and it was a superb cross, that is what he gives you with that left foot.
“Obviously they missed a penalty, which I thought was a harsh one, he didn’t mean to foul him, but the ball was there and Benteke kicked the back of his leg and went over, but he missed it so who cares?”
Indeed, who cares? West Ham took the points and that is all that mattered.