Date: 31st July 2019 at 9:30am
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OPINION

There are some player that are so synonymous with a certain club that it is almost unimaginable to think of them turning out for anybody else.

Steven Gerrard was a Liverpool man, Paul Scholes was Manchester United through and through, and Mark Noble is, without even the faintest shadow of a doubt, Mr. West Ham.

The 32-year-old has been an integral part of the Hammers’ squad for years and years now, and while he is no longer a spring chicken, he is very much cock of the walk in the centre of the park.

Last year he managed a pass completion rate of 85.3% and an average of 1.5 tackles per match, as per Whoscored, as well as forming a fearsome partnership with the prodigious Declan Rice.

This coming season, however, things don’t look too sure.

The Hammers have bought well this summer, and the addition of Pablo Fornals could throw a spanner in the works for the club captain.

The addition of the Spanish playmaker, plus the return to fitness of both Jack Wilshere and Manuel Lanzini, means that Manuel Pellegrini has something of a headache on his hands.

If we assume that the Chilean plans on playing a central midfield three, with Rice sitting at the base acting as an enforcer, then suddenly you have a situation where four players are fighting for two spaces.

And while he may be the most experienced and well-loved of that quartet, Noble simply cannot match the others in terms of mobility or creativity.

The issue being faced by the £50,000-a-week ace [Spotrac] was summed up perfectly by the latest comments from reliable Hammers source ExWHUemployee.

Speaking on Love Sport Radio, he said: “This is where it’s tricky.

“I’m going to have to have Lanzini. Rice, Lanzini, and Wilshere in midfield, and put Noble on the bench, which I find shocking, but it shows the options we’ve got.”

Ex isn’t wrong. It is shocking to think of Noble starting most games on the bench, but at the moment, it looks like the most likely and pragmatic solution available to his manager.