When you think of all the players we have bought, I thought Mark Noble might have been the obvious choice to be dropped by Pellegrini at the season opener away at Liverpool. The little pace he had at the start of his career has gone and he is now relying on his experience to get through the games, and I felt he could get found out this season.
I automatically thought before I saw the team sheet against Liverpool that he would be on the bench so I was surprised to see him there, and I thought it strange that Pellegrini has brought in the players he has and he is still sticking with Noble. Having said that my daughter Marie went to the game against Bournemouth and said Nobes played quite well so it’s a difficult one for me because if Noble can keep doing it, he could still have a few years left in him at this level.
But I was surprised to see that it was Marko who took the penalty and not Mark. He has been our penalty taker for years, and we have faith and trust in him to score. When I was told we’d got a penalty and Arnautovic had taken it, I thought perhaps Mark had taken a knock or was injured but that doesn’t seem to be the case. You just take it for granted that he will take it.
Despite his August appearances, I do think it will be hard for him to keep his place in the team. We have so many players now and once Pellegrini finds himself with a settled side, playing the way he wants, I think Mark might find his game time limited and he will find himself on the fringes.
It will take time to get to this point and perhaps Pellegrini wants to have someone of Mark’s stature in the club on the pitch to help during this transition. Let’s not forget the thing about Mark Noble is that he never hides on the pitch – even if he is having a bad game.
He will run through brick walls for West Ham, he bleeds claret and blue and he will continue to try to do things right. His passion for the club gives him an extra 10 per cent that you just wouldn’t get out of him at another club.
If he was up for sale, it wouldn’t be a big club that comes in for him, it would most likely be a newly-promoted side and that would be for his experience. He has been a great servant to the club and closing in on 400 appearances – that is a huge achievement in the Premier League era.
He is West Ham through and through. He might be the last player we see at West Ham that has come through the ranks and stays here for years because it seems to be that players nowadays stay at a club for a couple of years and then move on. When he does drop out of favour, it will be a sad day for fans but it is going to happen soon.
As for our first two games of the season, they were really disappointing weren’t they? Away at Liverpool we didn’t play very well and they didn’t have to do a lot or be at their very best to beat us.
It looks like we are trying to play a high defensive line and compress the midfield. This is great when you are all working together and playing in harmony but like we saw against Liverpool and Bournemouth, it’s a dangerous game. I do wonder if while our new players are settling in that Pellegrini should be a bit more defensive at the back until things settle down.