Managerial duo are best yet, claims Noble
Mark Noble believes Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke have rejuvenated West Ham
By JONATHAN CLEGG
Mark Noble is still in the early stages of his football career, but he is already a senior citizen at West Ham.
The homegrown midfielder, who spent his childhood cheering on the Hammers from the terraces at Upton Park, joined the club as a schoolboy and has grown up to become West Ham's longest-serving player at the age of just 21.
Noble has witnessed much upheaval during that time, including a string of managerial changes, but the England Under-21 international believes current boss Gianfranco Zola and No 2 Steve Clarke are poised to deliver lasting success.
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He said: "I'm on my fifth manager now. I've seen Alan Pardew and Alan Curbishley and I also travelled a few times with Trevor Brooking and Glenn Roeder, but the way these two [Zola and Clarke] bounce off each other is brilliant. They complete each other and know exactly how they want us to play.
"The gaffer came in and he put so much belief into everyone that we go out and play freely. You listen to him when he talks to you and he builds that confidence inside you to go out, try your best for him and play with a smile on your face.
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"People keep coming up to me and telling me this is the best they've seen West Ham play in years and years."
Noble in no doubt that the key to West Ham's transformation is a new approach to training, which focuses on maintaining possession under pressure.
"The standard and speed has gone up massively from the first day he came in.
"We do so many keep-ball practices. It just gets into your head that if you stay on the ball for more than a couple of seconds, you're going to lose it and if you lose it against the likes of United, you're going to get punished.
"So everyone's got more confidence and you see boys who were playing within themselves have really come out of their shells.
"Look at how Carlton Cole has been lately, for example. I think we're really creeping up in the right way.