Maybe Captain Caveman had a point! Published 16/04/18 on Irons United
Last season in the West Ham world, the team came under increasing criticism for dire performances and Mark Noble got his fair share too. At the time, he somewhat retaliated with a verbal condemnation of fans whom he claimed don’t really know a lot about football…well that backfired on him didn’t it?
Perhaps some fans are less enlightened than others, however a poor performance from an individual or from a team on a consistent basis is hardly shrouded in secrecy and stuff of the black arts. It’s as clear as a 30 stone fella stuffing his face with donuts and claiming his diet isn’t working very well, that something isn’t quite right!
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu
Fast forward a season and a half, and much of the malaise has remained, however Noble has been somewhat of a revelation this season, certainly since Moyes took over. He has been the leader in the middle of the park and on many occasions has been the man of the match in many fan’s minds. A couple of weeks ago he gave an interview and even wrote a letter to the fans pleading with them to stop the dissenting and to get fully behind the team until the end of the season but also acknowledging that there needed to be a big rethink in the summer.
At the time, there were many who were less than impressed with his ‘rallying cry’ especially as many thought his actions towards the fan who ran onto the pitch during the Burnley game was totally uncalled for, many even suggesting that he was fortunate not to be sanctioned by the FA for tackling the fan to the ground. However, in some ways his fine words have settled the crowds, albeit temporarily as the team has put in two solid displays and the players have produced great results too.
Not only has he continued with his fine form but many of the other players have returned from their three week hiatus and are producing the goods that the fans have yearned for ever since moving to the London Stadium. The last two games have by no means been displays of footballing excellence, however they have gained valuable points and even more importantly have put a smile back on fans’ faces.
Against Southampton, the team played with a swagger…especially in the first half and critically, they converted their chances! Whilst, against Chelsea they were mostly outplayed but held firm…Hart was amazingly good, just as were Rice and Ogbonna at the back. Arnautovic led the line and Hernandez came on and immediately made an impact with his fine finish…but in the centre of it all was Mark Noble, leading the charge and directing his legion with every kick of the football.
However, surrounding both performances were a crowd that was fully supportive and urging the team on with positivity. This is what Noble wanted and this is what they all received, however one would consider this a given at every match. The stay of execution is what was called for and whilst fans are still as equally frustrated with the absurdities of the club, they have set aside their ill feelings to help the team survive in the Premier League…so far it’s working!
Tonight Noble will lead his merry men back onto the field at the London Stadium against a Stoke City side that is desperate for a win themselves. The fans will have to show an overtly passionate support for the team and must ensure that they are not complacent at any stage, as this is where Stoke will likely wish to capitalise. They have improved their form under Paul Lambert and would dearly love to come away with a positive result, whereas West Ham must grab this opportunity to grab the three points that will almost certainly ensure the survival in the league.
As the final preparations are made, the fans wait on late fitness tests for returning players and wonder how Moyes will set up in the game. Will he be cautious and play the points game or will he show ambition and adventure, and going for the win in front of an expectant and hopeful home crowd? Certainly the latter would likely stifle any Stoke City flames early on in the game and would make for another entertaining watch for the West Ham faithful, but it would also help Moyes’ cause to be permanently hired in the summer to continue his work.
Irrespective of tactics and formations…as well as questionable starting line ups and substitutions…David Moyes will look to Mark Noble to be in the thick of it from the very first whistle and he will have 55,000 supporters urging on the team to glory. Maybe Captain Caveman had a point when he hit the fans over the head with his club and told them to get behind the team, but he and the rest of the team must deliver with the fan’s unyielding support too!