West Ham’s top four hopes were dealt a blow on Sunday night as they turned in a limp performance in a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United.
David Moyes opted to field three defensive midfielders – Mark Noble, Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek – as well as a back five as he looked to frustrate his former club.
However, they struggled to create opportunities, with home goalkeeper Dean Henderson facing no shots on target over the course of the 90 minutes.
Noble struggling to make a positive impact
Soucek and Rice are regulars for the Irons, but this was club captain Noble’s first start since the 2-2 draw with Brighton just before the turn of the year and just his fourth of the season in the Premier League (via Transfermarkt).
The Hammers’ record when he plays from the off does not make for pleasant reading – they have picked up one point from a possible 12, with the veteran of 521 club appearances also starting in comprehensive defeats to Newcastle and Chelsea.
The 33-year-old announced last week that the 2021/22 would be his last at the club and, judging by last night, he is in danger of going out on a whimper. His total of 38 touches was the third-lowest among the Irons’ starting XI, while he was beaten twice in the dribble by opponents (Sofascore).
Responding to a tweet from fan feed The West Ham Way highlighting the unenviable win record with Noble starting, these supporters gave their verdict on what he has offered this year. One described his Old Trafford performance as “anonymous”, while another feel that he “kills the way we play”, which may explain the Irons’ poor record when he starts.
These West Ham fans were critical of Noble
“Noble is a club legend and rightly so but should be nowhere near the starting 11….another season carrying him in these games vs the ‘big’ boys. Moyes doing a fantastic job but has an inferiority complex in these games. Man City performance should be the rule, not the exception.”
“His first move is to turn goal side to buy time. He moves the ball to either a cb or a fb or at best to rice or soucek. Any momentum stagnates. This level has been beyond him for some time now. At times it was painful watching fred and mctominay bypassing him with such ease.”
“Noble starts we lose. Great servant, love the bloke but coming on to hold on or kill a game is one thing. He just kills the way we play”
“As soon as I saw he was starting I knew we wouldn’t win, we haven’t won a game when he has started and it shows. Great bloke, but times have changed and he shouldn’t start any more games. Sad but time catches up with everyone in the end.”
“He was totally anonymous last night, players glide past him with ease now, he is only useful for a game in last 15 or 20 minutes due to players tiring but starting no”
“Love him but the team has moved on. He’s not good enough to be starting anymore. As a sub to see a game through to the end then yes. But not as a starter.”
“The problem is he shouldn’t even be an option. He is taking up an academy players slot and not for the first time.”
“And that point was because he was subbed off at half time. He is a huge problem. Last 10-15 min player tops. Should never ever start league games, he’s way past it.”
“He has one strength now, and that’s slowing a game down to close it out.”
In other news, one West Ham player has signalled good news on the injury front.
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