By CandH’s top blogger Allen Cummings
There is, as we all know, really only one Mr West Ham.
With over 20 years’ service to the club and more than 500 first team appearances to his name Mark Noble has more than eared that title!
But someone who also deserves recognition for loyalty and dedication to the Hammers is Aaron Cresswell. Cressa topped the big 200 Premier League appearances mark in December 2020, then eclipsed former favourite Carlton Cole when he made his 217th appearance against Arsenal in March this year – finally finishing the season on 224 – and cementing his place as second only to Noble in Premier League appearances for West Ham.
Unlike Nobes, Cresswell is certainly not an east ender born and bred – in fact his distinctive scouse tones are as strong as ever, but he’s been a fantastically loyal servant for our club over the last seven years, with his form and personal contribution to our last remarkable season a vital factor in the team’s success.
There were plenty of armchair critics who were ready to write him off before a ball had been kicked last term. But the only voice that really mattered was that of David Moyes, and his manager had no doubt about the part Aaron could and would play for him and the team as the season unfolded.
Whether it was as a conventional left back – or on the left of a back three – Cresswell never let his manager or his team down.
Much was made of the contribution of Vladimir Coufal – and rightly so – we all know what a brilliant season our Czech international had. Between them Cressa and Vlad recorded the most assists for a full back pairing during the Premier League season.
But with a total of eight assists to his name Cresswell finished with one more than his much lauded team mate – putting him at the top of West Ham’s official assists table, ahead of the like of Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma, Michail Antonio and Jesse Lingard.
It was Sam Allardyce who spotted Aaron’s potential and brought him to the club back in 2014, the £3.4m fee paid to Ipswich soon looking an absolute bargain.
Voted Hammer of the Year in 2015, Cresswell also gained full England recognition the following year, but then a cruciate ligament injury, and the resultant after effects, blighted his career for a while. Last season though saw him back to his best, with even talk of an England recall under Gareth Southgate.
As David Moyes goes about adding to his squad for the up-coming campaign, it’s unlikely that an immediate replacement left back will be anywhere near top of his priorities.
The manager continues to value his present No 3 highly – not just for his performances on the pitch, but for his invaluable Premier League experience and the considerable influence he exercises on the team. Cresswell has not only got the trust of the manager but the respect of his team mates around him.
Mark Noble, the current Mr West Ham, will play an important role in the development of the squad next season – but Aaron Cresswell, the next in line, will be just as vital!