Noble and Carroll – names that raise relegation fears

NobleBy Max Willow

It was always going to be a difficult task for David Moyes, in his attempt to put together a solid, cohesive formation to take on a talented Watford team. At the end of the day, Watford deserved their victory; they were well organised from the start, and took their scoring chances well.

However, it may have been quite different, if Moyes had used a little more common sense and a touch of imagination. His first major mistake was to choose an aggressive 4-3-3 formation, which left us very prone to frequent counter-attacks. By selecting Mark Noble in central midfield, and Andy Carroll at the end of the park, we were more or less doomed from the start.

Andy CarrollFor such an important psychological match (for players and manager alike), he could have easily opted for a compact 4-4-2 formation, improving a weak midfield without compromising our attack.

Before discussing the player performances, I am sure the outcome would have been much better if 1) Moyes played with the back four that was ultimately used (Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, and Creswell), but, 2) strengthening the midfield by using Obiang and Kouyate in holding positions, and using Lanzini and Fernanades as out two attacking midfielders.

He could have allowed Lanzini the license to move centrally, up and down the top third, linking up with the two strikers when required, or falling back to assist the remaining midfielders when Watford counter-attacked. Quite clearly, Moyes has not yet appreciated that Lanzini is most effective and dominant playing in the middle of the park; when he is confined to the left wing, much of his play-making potential is reduced.

Sad to say, that Mark Noble is just not quick enough to justify being selected in the centre of the midfield. Kouyate and Obiang played well enough to fill this function, and the addition of Edimilson Fernandes, playing just behind Lanzini would have added pace and flair to the attacking midfield unit.

The decision to play with two wingers with Andy Carroll as our central striker, was predictable and the Watford gaffer must have been delighted to see the appearance of the big man. Like Noble, Carroll was far too slow; the team may have been justifiably confused to see Carroll chosen as our selected goal-scorer.

As a result, most of the first half saw a mixture of long balls and crosses being targeted directly for Carroll (with nothing to show for it), and some spontaneous free moving passes which looked far more effective. Arnautovic was a reasonable choice on the wing, bearing in mind the absence of Chicharito, Ayew, Antonio, and the decision not to play Martinez.

Had Moyes picked Sakho in the starting set-up, he, together with a second striker, (and Lanzini playing in a central position just behind), would have surely produced a greater variety of attacking options with which Watford may have struggled.

While I am certain that most of the players are going to be criticized for the loss, I for one, am suggesting that David Moyes was the main villain today. Amongst others, Obiang and Kouyate never stopped trying; Winston Reid marshalled the back four in a competent manner, and Zabaleta and Cresswell both put in solid shifts in their dual roles as ‘full backs-wing backs’. While Joe Hart did make a spectacular one-handed save from point-blank, he was sadly out of position for Richarlison’s goal, and may have done better in preventing the goal.

If we have any notion of improving, Moyes must make some serious considerations about the formation he uses with so many players absent, and seriously think about using players who have greater pace and acceleration for the start of the game. Lanzini must be quickly restored to the central attacking playmaker role.

In addition, Sakho and Fernanades, deserve closer attention, since they offer much more than our ageing battlers, Carroll and Noble. Carroll and Noble can be used as super-subs, but based on previous games, in addition  to today’s insipid performance, he must give serious consideration to a number of other players in the first team and U-23 team squads.

If Moyes persists in starting games with both Noble and Carroll, I have grave concerns for our chances of avoiding relegation. Oh and Carroll only took seven  seconds to make his mark on the game with a fairly hallmark bent elbow tackle.

The views expressed here are solely those of the blogger and are not necessarily shared by ClaretandHugh


About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

26 comments on “Noble and Carroll – names that raise relegation fears

  1. You’re views on Kouatye and Obiang in this article suggest you didn’t actually watch the game. They were hopeless. Far worse than Noble. This witch hunt against Noble is getting a bit tiresome now.

    • Obiang poor first half. Better marginally in the second.

      Kouyate played in yet another position. Was a threat to them though. Benefit of the doubt.

      Noble was mostly anonymous apart from the good ball into kouyate. He is very easily run past. Most worrying, he was shot at 60 minutes and yet managed to play 90.

      Our entire midfield isn’t good enough, and is the source of our problems, imho. We had an adequate back line with players to return. We had a decent front line with players to return. The midfield was the best we have and it is not premier league quality.

      • Noble was easily run past because Obiang and Kouayte were no where near him. Kouatue hasn’t been at the races for about a year now and both should be dropped for Fernandes and Rice on Friday as that’s all we have.

        • Agree with you re:using Fernandes, but still believe that Kouyate is one of our better players!
          Too bad that Moyesie played Party Boy for so long-didn’t give Sakho much of a go?
          Masuaku our best player on the day?

          let’s not panic, just yet, but I could have sworn that Moyes was using a very similar approach to our dearly departed Slav. Let’s hope he can identify the creativity that actually does exist in this team, although, not necessarily apparent!

        • Thaughwaits . Have you any clue about football . Noble can’t run and the rest of the midfield is covering , badly , for him .

    • Sorry mate, you can check it out with my Missus..
      Watched the game via a live telecast from Optus; best seat in the house, lot’s of great camera angles, and heaps of replays.
      Furthermore, I have been around long enough to have seen the great days of Mark Noble, so I am not on a witch-hunt. However, only a ‘Milwall-based imbecile’ would suggest that Nobes and Carroll were premier league material. The game has changed quite a lot since I began watching back in 1964. Ironically, the football is lighter and much easier to strike with the foot, but the game has become so fast, that you really only have about 0.35 sec to ‘compose, control, and convert”.

      • Noble made 43 passes, 38 of them accurate, including the peach of a pass that the useless Kouyate failed to convert. Most of these passes were in the opposition half and forwards, These stats, which came from the official site, are significantly better than those of the other midfielders and are also much better than those of Lanzini, who had another poor game. So who’s the imbecile? If we get out of this terrible mess it’ll be the guys who really care about the shirt, i.e. Noble and Ginge, who will lead us. Let’s stop the ill-informed witch hunt by so-called fans against our great captain and get behind him. COYI!

    • You must be blind my friend . There is no witch hunt just honest and justified critisicm of the worst player on the pitch week after week . Get rid of Noble now before he drags us down to Championship

  2. Yes ? The quicker they off load him the quicker the truth stops. lofl!!!!. 😂

  3. I must say the West Ham fans are very fickle these days unfortunately and have short memories regards noble..Very harsh on noble and very disrespectful and judged by authors own views…Yes nobles legs are going but still decent when played properly…Obiang was poor and gives it away more than noble..kouyate has no positional sense but has legs so doesn’t really get picked up…Fernandes to me isn’t good enough so don’t know where your getting that from…

  4. Agree about Carroll however, and he has an attitude problem..that said he’s not suited to one up due to lack of mobility, can’t run the channels etc…some thing you need especially away from home..I think it has to be Diafra Sakho on Friday starting against Leicester city..

  5. Have to disagree again and I think the players that were available to Moyes, plus the style of play that he likes to play, this was always going to be his team. If Antonio was available we would have had him playing the Kouyate role and either Noble or Obiang would have been dropped to bring in Kouyate.

    I think you better get used to seeing Lanzini being out wide and stepping into the middle as Moyes has played that way throughout his career.

    Digging out Noble is boring, he played no worse than many others (I would argue better than some you have praised) Also, get used to Carroll playing as Moyes likes to use a target man. Anichbee and Fellaini all thrived under Moyes.

    I would have been tempted to play Sakho from the start in the position that Kouyate was playing.

  6. would love to see Sakho and Martinez play upfront.Carroll ploughing a lone furrow upfront is a waste and so very predictable now for central defenders who are more likely to get a smack in the face rather than concede a goal to him.Lack of pace in midfield is a huge problem and needs addressing in January.

  7. Whilst no one really stood out today I agree that the game was lost in midfield, I thought all 3 were pretty dreadful, Obiang, Kouyate and Noble. It’s hard to work out what happens to these players, Kouyate has got steadily less effective and the same goes for Obiang who looks like he’ll give the ball away every time he’s got it. It was a poor game from Nobes, he doesn’t get tight anywhere near as quickly as he used to which means he’s always 2 or 3 yards too far away from opposing midfielders giving them so much space in vital areas.
    Having said all that, had we converted one or two of the relatively simple chances created, we actually could have nicked it – not much Moyes can do about glaring misses.

  8. I have to disagree with the growing clamour to play Martinez, I’ve seen him a number of times in the U23s and he just isn’t ready for the Premier League yet. Yes he’s banged in a few goals but missed some absolute sitters as well. He’s not blessed with pace and isn’t as good as Carroll with his back to goal. Sincerely hope he proves me wrong. COYI

    • Well for all the games where Martinez may have stuffed up, what about the game where he scored so many goals, including the 3-1 win against Bristol Titties in the Checkamate.
      Even Ronaldo & Kane have their off-days?

  9. Noble was poor and Carroll a disgrace, but you’ve conveniently overlooked how shocking Chek was again. Couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo. And Reid too, heads the ball straight to Hughes for their second when it was easier to flick it back to Hart, then can’t catch their striker and lets him get in a shot when most PL defenders would have blocked it. Creswell did nothing, Obiang couldnt pass forward and Zabba is just too slow.
    It was same old, same old I’m afraid.
    And the U23 players will get their chance, unfortunately in the Championship next season by the look of things.

  10. Obiang and Kouyate find it difficult to be part of a diciplined midfield unit, which is why we don’t win and rarely draw games when they are paired together. Obiang is particularly disastrous. Until we can get replacements, I would rather see Fernandes paired with Rice, except of course we aso need Rice at the back.
    Ogbonna who I see as a liability in defence, had a stable game yesterday so perhaps he deserves another one.
    Whoever plays in the next few games, we should give Moyes time to repair what is a real mess. He will need time with the whole squad together to get his ideas over and start to get a response. It is radical change and that does not come quick.
    He will have noticed that several of our players are not up to the job ( not just Noble and Carroll, but also Obiang, Ogbonna, and Kouyate too/ Our midfield is a graveyard of false reputations.

  11. It’s amazing how many of us see the game differently which just goes to show I guess what a shambles we are on the playing front at the moment, I like Max thought Obiang had a decent game, I actually think Carroll caused them a few problems and he did run around a lot although if Sakho had been on from the start we could have caused more problems for their central defence, i actually put myself through the misery of watching it again on MOTD2 and the commentators there demonstrated how isolated Carroll was which desn’t help him or the team much when they lump it long. I don’t blame Moyes at all for this loss and not enough credit is being handed out to Watford who were excellent, in the training sessions you could see the players diving into challenges being hungry for everything but it was clear in the match that they were doing nothing like that. For me it’s not a witchhunt against Noble I just look at the performance, judge him on how he reads the game, how many tackles or interceptions he makes and whether he makes passes that affect us defensively or offensively, none of the team set the world alight but they are being asked to do new things in the middle of the season that is really tough especially as they are low on confidence, as Moyes says they need to find a way of winning, that means digging deep and doing more and more good things each game, they may have been sprinting in training but they didn’t do enough of that in the match, it is going to take a while to shake off the Slav lethargy it would seem and perhaps that is what Moyes is doing trying to shake them into life and getting them to wake up, I would say despite being a great ambassador for the club Noble should have the captaincy removed and see if that improves his performances, give it to Zabaletta not one of the players that got us into this mess.

    • I agree about the captaincy. Noble looks punch-drunk from all the abuse, and Zabaleta is looking the captain more and more.
      As for Carroll I’m a suporter but he is having his worse season for us. Without Hernandes, who is there to realisticly give him support. Sahko was non-exsistant when he came on, and Martinez can do without the pressure.

  12. We all have our opinions and quite often they differ but the 2 most important and changeable one’s for me are Carrol has to be on the bench and Masuaka should start left…thank you

    • Masuaku will have to play now because Arnautavic is injured. He plays better going forward, but has a habit of completely ignoring Creswell during a game. He did it again yesterday. When Cress made runs he never got the ball. When he gave Masuaku an option to pass to, he never got the ball. Does he think that will make him look like a better full-back than Cress? Moyes won’t be fooled.

  13. Thought Hart should have stopped their second, bit like Brighton weak hands. He did pull off a fantastic reaction save but we can’t afford gk errors. Given the state of the team it baffles me why we have got Hart at all when we have Adrian-so many other areas where we needed to invest. Sullivan ego driven loan deal….

  14. I lost count how many times Noble’s passing went straight to a watford playeer or pretty much everywhere he didn’t intend it to go & his legs have gone. We can’t afford to carry anyone based on how good he used to be. A major shake up is needed, the shambles that play every week have got to be binned off. Noble more than others, Carroll has offered next to nothing this season & hasn’t learnt from his red, bull in a china shop. Kouyate looks a different player this season.
    Why play the same players & style that let down Bilic?
    SuGo signed players for now?? Maybe it is time they sold up & gave the club a chance to move forward with some one who will pay that extra bit that will get the better players through the door. This is season is nothing but a fight to stay up & if it is done with ugly football I don’t care. Just do what it takes

  15. All the players need to start making tackles and putting their bodies on the line, if we see that effort we will get behind them, we have had some pretty poor players over the years but they gave 100% that is all we ask and we can forget a multitude of sins if they put themselves on the line, although he appeared to be trying to get sent off at least Carroll did try and inject some energy. He is the wrong player to play against Leicester their centre backs will nullify him and we have to find some pace on the right to deal with Mahrez.

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