Time for Slav to bite Noble bullet


slaven-bilic-and-mark-nobleThe time has  come for Slav to bite the bullet tough though that is going to be.

A few days ago the manager was speaking of captain Mark Noble in glowing terms describing him as a major influence and his man in the dressing room.

The friendship between the two is clear and that is good but both will know there will come a moment when the boss may have to pull his man gently aside and say: ” You have to take a rest son.”

The captain has been playing since the Europa Cup qualifiers and has now clocked up a total of 30 games. It is taking its toll with every successive 90 minutes.

He’s never been the quickest across the ground and there have been errors which have led many to probably correctly believe he now has to be dropped.

Last night’s crazy error of judgement when trying to play a short and ill judged ball when it was required in the box was as difficult to understand and accept as any mistake by the team this season.

Surely he had seen Fonte and Reid had even moved up – leaving us uncovered at the back  yet still he chose to play a suicide ball against a team who can and will take full advantage.

We all have mixed feelings about the captain because he’s a Hammer to the core and thus criticising and calling for him out is as tough as it gets.

But Slav made a point – whilst not naming him – of addressing that awful first goal in critical terms afterwards and given this isn’t the first time Mark has been culpable of  sloppy play he now has a decision to make.

Mark’s automatic spot in midfield, whilst clearly below his best, is causing issues elsewhere with Cheik Kouyate – clearly the more energetic and effective midfielder – marooned at right back presumably because Slav trusts neither Sam Byram or Havard Nortveidt in that role.

It’s very much a personal opinion but I believe the manager now has to be brave and trust one or the other of them, move Mark aside and play Cheik and Obiang in the middle of midfield.

This one has been brewing for a long long time – it’s surely time for Slav to address it!

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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


  • sleepswithdafishes says:

    Good call, with 2 decent options to put in against Bournmouth. Question over Byram but he should be able to cope with the next 3 games. Byram needs games to improve, and Obiang and Chek need games to buld a strong partnership. Whoever comes out of this season as 1st choice will have to earn it, and with Fonte a good alternative as captain, now is the time for the auditions.

  • PopRobson says:

    It’s always more difficult when it is your Captain as well, we had this with Kevin Nolan towards the end. Dylan Hartley’s position for England in the six nations is suspect and it’s always kinda strange to see your Captain on the bench or indeed being taken off half way through. But I do agree we have other options now.

  • markro says:

    If we are to improve, I have to agree. Noble has been a good player for a long time, but if Sullivan really wants us to be the “very, very good side” he has recently written about, then we need to replace our historic “good” players with better ones.

    Obiang has had a terrific season. He is powerful and decisive in midfield and he has an excellent eye for a pass and we all know how good Kouyate can be when played in his proper position.

    We are crying out for a quaility right back and a finisher. The owners should have a bumper war-chest for the summer with the profits from the Jan window plus a “normal” summer window investment.

    This season a top 10 finish will do me fine, but I want us to push on next year and that means that Noble can no longer be in the 1st XI.

  • Wembley1980 says:

    Slav needs to do him a favour and drop before all his West Ham history is forgotten because we can’t stand to see him start! The Mr West Ham bit isn’t good enough at this level of football otherwise we might as well still be playing Bonds and Brooking, I genuinely believe the pitch size has left him wanting but it’s not gonna get any smaller as he gets older!

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