It was pleasing to see the club extend Mark Noble’s contract and have stayed loyal to him to ensure he will see out his top-flight playing career at West Ham. In today’s game, it wouldn’t have surprised me if they’d said ‘you’re too old now, on your bike’ when his contract ended so it was good news that he’ll have been playing with the first team for two decades by the time his contract comes to an end.
He will be the last in a long line of players who have stayed at their club for a long time or their entire career. I can’t see Declan Rice signing his life away to stay at West Ham. If he is going to be as good as we think he is, someone will whisk him away at some stage.
But if Noble does stay for 20 years he really will be in good company as he’ll get another testimonial – just like Billy Bonds and Alvin Martin did. To be honest, I couldn’t see him going anywhere else even though I’d heard that Fulham were quite interested in taking him on.
Whether he plays a big part in the coming seasons or not, I’m not so sure. I wouldn’t quite put him in the Billy Bonds mould but he has been a figurehead for the club for a long time. Fans love him, and he has the respect from the players. Just having him around the club, even if he’s on the bench, is important.
It’s going to come to the point, I know I’ve said this a few times in my column, where he won’t be playing all the time. But he does keep surprising us all with how he continues to evolve and change to make sure he gets game time.
He’s never been a player like Trevor Brooking with his skills that you build a team around. He has had to adjust to fit in with others and adapt to different styles and systems. Just look at when Scott Parker was at the club and how they were quite similar so Mark had to change his game to get time on the pitch.
As for the January transfer window, I am happy with what we have got. If you look at the squad we’ve got and compare it to the sides we played in December, we have the strongest squad.
It was always a question of time for the team to start to click and I can only see us getting better and better now. So long as we don’t lose too many players in January – especially any players that could be important – and don’t replace them. There was talk about us getting Yaya Toure but from what I’ve heard it was him, Sami Nasri and Joe Hart who were quite vocal at Manchester City.
We don’t need these kinds of players coming here to disrupt the team spirit we have. As for talk about Hernandez leaving in January, he has said he might go in January – or was at least very vague about his future at West Ham because of lack of game time.
Then Arnautovic got injured and Hernandez has scored goals. It’s no coincidence. If you want a move, there’s no point being out of the side or coming into the side and not doing much. He’s come in and scored goals. I’m sure if he stays in the side he is going to be happy. But that’s the thing about modern football, the manager’s role now is to try and keep everyone happy when it is a squad game.