Filed: Friday, 17th March 2017
By: Paul Walker
So the faceless, clueless twitter twerps have got their scapegoat. Mark Noble has been sent away for a break to take him out of the firing line.
There has been weeks, months, of vile abuse suffered by Noble on social media, and it has reached such a crescendo that Mark has now seemingly acquired an injury and will not lead the side against Leicester tomorrow..and Slav has sent him away for a break with his family.
Well done trolls, you have got what you wanted. And before you start, I do not believe Noble should be in the side if his form has gone or just because he’s captain. But sometimes I feel I am watching a different game to others (yes, I can hear the abuse coming my way as I write this) because there are players out there who have been far, far worse than Noble this season.
It all starts with just a few folk on twitter or social media, looking for scapegoats who have turned on Noble. That few spreads and spreads until you have twitter mob rule. People can trash careers, wreck private lives, well, just because they can, what fun!
No he has not been at his best, but it is always Noble fronting up out there, trying to plug the gaps created by others all around him.
And he never shirks this responsibility on or off the pitch. The campaign against him has gone on daily, weekly, monthly and is fanned by some folk who should know better. Maybe who should know the game better.
Yes, I am a Noble fan, you might have guessed that already. But being in my 60s I do not have heroes anymore, just people I admire for that they have done, and are doing for my club.
Is this the same lad at the back end of last season that we saw with tears in his eyes at his testimonial talking about his ‘ family’? This is not any sort of family support that I recognise.
Noble has become the victim, the whipping boy, for what has gone wrong this season. It got to a point when Slav had to stand up and support him last week. What disappoints me is that from within a club who have used Noble as the poster boy for the move to Stratford, there has been very, very little public support.
I may have missed some things, but if anyone can produce quotes from within the club in support of their captain I would like to see them. And I will apologise.
Noble has carried this club of late. He takes his role seriously. His involvement was crucial to the move, a local boy, one club man from Canning Town, leading the move from the Boleyn. As far as legacy goes, he was vital.
He appeared at all the photo shoots, standing alongside any corrupt/immoral MP that could be found. They are one or the other, I find. He smiled at all the right times, attended all the functions as skipper, but also never forgot his responsibility to the fans.
He pointed out that leaving the Boleyn could cost us 15 points. He’s about right there. He stood in the new stadium marvelling at it’s size and beauty--yes, I know some don’t agree, but from a distance it looks fine. But he also mused over the difference between old and new. As ever a realist because nothing was going see us going back to E13.
Slav mentioned today that Noble feels it all, takes it home with him. In effect it has compromised his concentration at times on the pitch. But again, there have been far worse cases out there this season.
He has taken his responsibilities as skipper and as leader to heart. Trying to patch up a fractured dressing room, trying to give the unhappy fans some perspective.
Without his leadership, in my view, we would be in the relegation zone now. He has had to handle the fall-out from the Dimi Payet disaster. Someone he took into his home, called him a friend and then wasn’t spoken to by the Frenchman for weeks as he engineered his escape route back to Marseille.
That hurt. And even while the clamour for his removal from the side was at its height this week, Noble was still attending community based events for the club, chatting to John Surtees I noticed. And Sky were there looking for sound bites.
It was too obvious with what looked like a planted question from the back of the room about Payet. Noble looked for a second, laughed…and then said “I had the best season of my life playing alongside Payet last season.” Job done, the perfect answer.
But I have re-run this clip a few times, and Noble's eyes say something else. Such disappointment that it all went wrong. But he still held his composure.
By then he had already fielded another question about the abuse he has received. He could have batted that away, but he answered back, and he has been pilloried for it. Yes, he said some fans do not understand the game.
And he was right. And he had the right to say so and defend himself after what has clearly been a tough time. Blimey, is free speech dead? And he only said what many, many players and coaches feel about the fans anyway. Do they know exactly the role the manager has asked him to do, can they seen the messy, dirty work that has to go on out there? Not everyone can, or has the licence to do four step-overs.
But he has been called arrogant by the same 140-character morons who have ceaselessly attacked him. Sometimes you wonder whether they have just 140 words in their vocabulary.
And I even see the great, great Phil Parkes having a pop, saving Mark cannot say such things and that his legs have gone. Sorry Phil, you are a true hero of mine, a wonderful goalkeeper. I don’t agree. But you never had 24/7 abuse to cope with and 24 hour news.
You toddled into training from Berkshire, picking up Dev and Sarge on the way around the north circular. Then it was home and privacy. The game and the media has changed since you stopped playing Phil, and Mark has a right to defend himself. And his legs haven’t gone; Alvaro Arbeloa’s might have, but not Noble’s.
He has been centre stage, up front, speaking for the club. And it has all got too much for him. Now I am sure that people will pick holes in all this, will slag me off. But I don’t do twitter or social media, so it won’t bother me.
Twitter, you guess, I hate. It is used well by a lot of folk who love it. It is also used by cowards with assumed names and a vicious, cruel streak in them. Part of our non-caring society these days. They love the chance of a victim, a scapegoat. Well you have got your way.
And a few folk who have mounted this campaign ceaselessly for months on end who should know better.
Noble deserves better. He deserves a dew days away with his family. He is not a man we see in the tabloids falling out of Shoreditch pubs in the morning air, he loves West Ham, the club, the fans, and because his form has dipped, he gets this. Well done to everybody involved.
My view? Noble has tried his hardest this season to be everything for everybody. He is our only leader on the pitch, when players go missing--yes I mean you Cheikhou Kouyate--and he will be missed.
He has stature, respect from officials and opponents and would do nothing to hurt the club. I assume Winston Reid will take over the arm band, I hope he’s got the time while seemingly agitating for another contract.
It is up now to the fans and the players who have so under-performed this term to show they can do it without Noble’s leadership. Step up people, I shall watch tomorrow with interest. Do not let us down. Do not let Mark Noble down.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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