Tag Archives: Mark Noble

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Will Bilic go where Allardyce feared to tread? Thoughts on Sunderland.

It is usually the case that when a team is struggling for results, the West Ham fixture is generally the one when they rediscover their winning form and turn their season around. And so it was very nearly the case last Saturday when the trip to Sunderland saw the Hammers go two goals down in the first half. A poor, lethargic performance saw yet another unforced error result in a goal against, and the signs were there that this was to be a bad day at the office. Victor Moses had a subdued half, and I was coming to the conclusion that he should be making way for Antonio when a bit of trickery down the left saw a good cross turned in by Jenkinson, whose needless foul resulted in Sunderland’s first goal. So the Hammers went in just one down, and the half time team talk probably turned out to be not quite so tetchy, and hopes were a bit higher in the second half.

The Hammers’ task was made an awful lot easier just under the hour mark, when Lens of Sunderland collected his second yellow and an early shower, and Payet duly obliged after 60 minutes, knocking in a rebound after a long range effort was fumbled by Pantilimon, who certainly didn’t “catch ’em all!” (Pokemon joke for the uninitiated). After the sending off Sunderland seemed to give up the ghost and West Ham should really have nicked a winner, but after the abysmal first half a point was not so unpalatable.

Things of note that came to me during the match:

1. Mark Noble is a great skipper and always puts in a shift, but he is noticeably lacking in pace these days. Add that to his habit of collecting cards and his error strewn passing, and we have a potentially difficult decision coming up for the manager. Drop the captain? Allardyce wouldn’t do it, but will Bilic?

2. Since the first game or so, Victor Moses has lost his spark a bit. Let’s hope he starts firing again soon.

3. Cresswell seems to be reluctant these days to get to the byeline and put in a cross. He nearly always just passes it backwards. He also gets caught out of position at the back quite often. Get Julian on the job!

Saying all that, we’re still doing great as a whole. When you consider that the manager is still making his mark, applying his football philosophy and getting the players a bit fitter, results have gone well. I just hope we are not flattering to deceive. Oh, and isn’t Bilic just a breath of fresh air? No excuses, no blame, just honesty and integrity.

COYI

West Ham in meltdown

With the news that Johnny Heitinga has rejected a move to West Ham in the January transfer window, it seems that the club’s grip on Premier League survival is loosening day by day. Heitinga said “You have to be convinced that you are taking the right step and I was not.” Whether he is referring to the owners, the manager or the club’s precarious league position is not clear, but it further emphasises the problems the club has in attracting new talent and nurturing the talent it currently has.

With Sam Allardyce’s preference for experience over youth and his reliance on statistics over flair, it is no surprise to see the inestimable talent of Ravel Morrison floundering amongst the predictable and turgid tactics that the manager employs. A complete absence of any youth players emerging from the academy and playing regularly in the first team over the last few years is another indictment of the current regime. The likes of Elliot Lee and Dan Potts should surely have been given more of a chance, especially considering the number of injuries the club have racked up over the season.

The alarming behaviour of captain Kevin Nolan is another indication that things are not right in the heart of the club. Having now been sent off twice in a month for completely random acts of violence, it is an obvious sign that things need to change, and despite the public backing of the board it seems that the manager’s job is now up for review. The owners will obviously have memories of the Avram Grant tenure in mind, when they procrastinated over have sacking him until it was too late, and so if a decision is to be made it is likely to be made soon.

The fans themselves have been patient so far. When the manager was getting results it was ok for the team to be playing precentage football. But when you are paying good money to watch boring football and you are losing most of your games as well, then the natives become restless and start revolting.

Personally I expect the owners to wait until Carroll returns. If then after a few games things have not improved, then I expect Sam to get the heave-ho. We shall see. In the meantime with Nolan out again and Noble now injured, I cannot see any prospect of a change in fortune, so keep on taking the tablets people!

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Man United preview – bring it on!

West Ham travel to Old Trafford tomorrow with their best chance in a long time of taking all three points from the game. With Rooney, Van-Persie, Nani and Carrick all absent through injury, and Manchester United playing below par post Ferguson, a buoyant West Ham side stand a great chance of getting the victory they so desperately need.

This season has been a major disappointment for the manager, owners and fans of West Ham. The Andy Carroll debacle has been widely documented, and Sam Allardyce has come under increasing pressure as the Hammers drift precariously close to the bottom of the table. The owners have publicly backed the manager (always a bad omen for managers!), although should the results not improve quickly it will take a lot for the owners to hold their nerve in face the inevitable calls for a change of leadership. Under scrutiny, the West Ham players seem to still be behind the manager with committment not currently an issue. Many argue that West Ham have just been unlucky this season, although you tend to make your own luck when you stick all your eggs in one large, leaky basket. Personally, I think that Allardyce should stay, as I think that results will pick up and we will finish comfortably mid-table at the end of the season. Allardyce’s man-management skills and unflinching confidence should see him through, although there will be an interesting end of season review between the manager and the owners.

The win against Spurs on Wednesday should hopefully serve to boost the confidence of the squad, and in particular Maiga, who is capable of good things when he has the confidence to apply himself. It will be interesting to see if Allardyce starts with Maiga instead of Carlton Cole who started the Spurs game. Tomkins returns from injury, but is likely to start on the bench, and Ravel Morrison returns to his former club with a point to prove. Diame and Noble should return in place of Collison and Diarra, with Kevin Nolan sitting out the last of his three game suspension.

With both teams playing mid-week, there are likely to be some tired legs out there, but I have a good feeling about this game and predict another 2-1 win, with Welbeck being the main danger.

COYI

And now, the end is near…

After last week’s miserable performance against Everton, we go into the final game of the season against Reading on Sunday expecting a much improved performance and maybe a little entertainment along the way. Maybe the occasion got to the players last week, but they were simply woeful, apart from James Collins and Jussi Jaaskelainen who prevented the score getting into double figures. With the last game being at home, I’m sure that Big Sam will get the lads juiced up for this one, and a home win is confidently expected. I had expected Sam to change things around a bit last week with Diame having a rest and Noble and Joe Cole starting, but he stuck with the same team as the week before. I think that was a mistake and I feel that at times he needs to use his whole squad more to keep people fresh.

As we drift over the finishing line, most peoples’ thoughts are with the impending and unending transfer sagas that will fill the summer months. It is clear that the manager and chairmen need to resolve the Andy Carroll issue one way or the other as early as possible, and at the same time try to tie down Mo Diame too, as I feel both signings will be vital. After that it will be all hands to the pumps to try to strengthen the side from the very long list of potential signings in Sam’s little black book. One interesting development is a news item that West Ham are interested in AC Milan’s Massimo Ambrosini. The 35 year old midfielder is the type of player that Big Sam likes to buy, as was evident back in his Bolton days when the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha, Nicolas Anelka, Ivan Campo and Youri Djorkaeff graced the pitch. Whether it will come off remains to be seen, but you can guarantee that over the next few months we will be linked with just about every player under the sun. It’s going to be a very long summer!

COYI

LINE-UPS – West Ham v Newcastle (1500 BST)

No changes for West Ham as Noble and Joe Cole have to make do with a starting position on the bench. Coloccini returns for Newcastle.

West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, O’Brien, Diame, O’Neil, Vaz Te, Nolan, Jarvis, Carroll. Subs: Henderson, Carlton Cole, Collison, Taylor, Noble, Pogatetz, Joe Cole.

Newcastle: Elliot, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Tiote, Gouffran, Gutierrez, Cisse. Subs: Harper, Williamson, Anita, Perch, Gosling, Ameobi, Campbell.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

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West Ham vs Newcastle: Match Preview

Newcastle travel to Upton Park today in an intriguing encounter which could have a big say in this year’s relegation dog-fight. A win for West Ham would mean they are mathematically safe, while Newcastle are only 5 points ahead of Wigan having played a game more, and will be desperate for the points.

It is also intriguing for the number of sub-plots underpinning today’s game. Big Sam returns to the club that sacked him, a fact that clearly still rankles with the big man. Likewise Alan Pardew returns to his old club where he has many fond memories, but also where it all went horribly wrong. Add to all that both Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll returning home, and you have a match that is not to be missed.

After Newcastle’s 6-0 drubbing by Liverpool last week, the Magpies are in serious trouble and their confidence is going to be shot. Pardew is sure to change the team around a bit, and Fabricio Coloccini may return to the centre of defence after injury. West Ham have no further injury problems with only James Tomkins and George McCartney on the treatment table.

Andy Carroll should have a large physical presence in the game today, and I fancy him to continue his good scoring run, although he is sure to have mixed feelings returning to his boyhood club. I thought that Big Sam would change the midfield around a bit last week, either bringing in Mark Noble or Joe Cole, but he persisted with the Vaz Te and Mo Diame combination. I can see Vaz Te dropping to the bench this week with Joe Cole starting, but Diame may continue in the middle if Sam doesn’t want to change things around. The defence is picking itself with Tomkins out, and the same can be said up front.

I can’t see any other result today other than a West Ham win with form so good at home. I reckon Jussi Jaaskelainen will provide another clean sheet today too, so I’ll plump for a 2-0 win with Carroll and Collins getting the goals.

If the Hammers do get the win, the club should announce a new contract for Mr Allardyce shortly after, and it is a contract much deserved after achieving the target of Premiership survival in a relatively comfortable manner. It should be an interesting summer too, with the necessity to improve from here and plenty of activity due in the transfer market.

COYI

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Manchester City v West Ham – Match preview

West Ham travel to Manchester City on Saturday in the hope of obtaining the points needed to make them mathematically safe from relegation. It would take a miracle for anyone to catch them now, however, so the team should be relaxed and confident. Manchester City have little to play for now that Manchester United have sealed the Premiership title, and it remains to be seen how the City players will respond to this relatively meaningless fixture. For Man City, James Milner, Sergio Agüero and David Silva are fit again and come into the reckoning, and for West Ham everyone is fit bar Tomkins and McCartney. In midfield, Big Sam may be tempted to rest either Diame or O’Neill with Mark Noble pressing for a recall. Up front Joe Cole could replace Vaz Te. The defence should remain unchanged.

If Manchester City were still vying for the title, I would have gone for a home win here, but the mercenary nature of the City squad and the greater team spirit and work ethic of the Hammers gives me hope that they could pull off a shock here and take all 3 points back to London. There is no doubting the quality of the Man City squad, but Sam Allardyce has got the defence very organised and solid, and I take them to repel the City front line that could include old boy Carlos Tevez who, if he plays, is sure to receive a adoring welcome from the away support. Andy Carroll should continue his fine form and is fancied to score again, and Winston Reid is also due another goal in what has been an outstanding season from him.

Look out for a round of applause tomorrow in memory of Marc-Vivien Foe who played for both Man City and West Ham, and who tragically died in 2003 playing for Cameroon. His shirt number for Man City was 23, and they retired the shirt after his death. The tribute to him is due to start on 23 minutes.

In other news, Barry Hearn has been defeated in his attempt to seek yet another judicial review of the process to award the Olympic Stadium to West Ham. If true to his word, he should finally give up his battle to share the stadium with the Hammers. Despite his claims that he was fighting for the survival of his club Leyton Orient, his actions smack of those of an opportunist riding coattails on the back of the West Ham bid, hoping for a ride on the OS gravy train. The ironic thing is, because of his actions, West Ham now have to pay far less for the Olympic Stadium than they would have had to originally.

West Ham v Wigan

West Ham v Wigan 20 April 2013: Match preview

West Ham go in today’s match against struggling Wigan with plenty of confidence after the exhilarating draw against Manchester United last Wednesday. Joe Cole is a surprise addition to the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury and is likely to start on the bench. Mark Noble made an appearance from the bench against Man Utd and looked in good form, so I expect him to replace Gary O’Neill who deserves a rest after his sterling performances recently. Mo Diame should make his second appearance against his former club. He was also in the side that lost 2-1 at Wigan last October.

Wigan are in desperate need of the points and they usually come good at this time of the season. They were unlucky to lose at Manchester City last Wednesday, and should be a stern test fro the Hammers today.

After the heroics on Wednesday I expect the Hammers to be a bit jaded, unless Sam Allardyce freshens things up with some new faces. I would not be surprised therefore if Jack Collison started with Noble and Diame had a rest on the bench. Carroll is on a roll, so he should start again.

Wigan are definitely one of West Ham’s bogey teams, so it wouldn’t surpise me if we lost today. Wigan are in a dogfight and are scrapping for every point, and it’s my opinion that they will be slightly more up for it than the Hammers.

West Ham have a reputation of playing well against the big teams and then losing against the poorer ones, so it will be a test of how far they have come under Sam Allardyce in the match today. If he can get the players in the right frame of mind and sufficiently refreshed, then I can see us winning 1-0. If the old West Ham turn up I fear us losing by the same margin. Time will tell.

COYI

Winston Reid and Mark Noble

Reid and Noble passed fit for Manchester United visit

David Gold confirmed today that Winston Reid and Mark Noble have both been passed fit for the visit of Man Utd on Wednesday night. James Tomkins is unfortunately still injured, so the expected changes to the team will be Reid in for Tomkins and Noble in for O’Neil, with Pogatetz back on the bench.