There’s no doubt that West Ham United captain Mark Noble is ‘Mr. West Ham’, the epitome of a one-club man who has dedicated his entire career to the east London outfit.
So it’s entirely understandable that he would become frustrated with modern day players who come and go without any real regard for the teams they are representing, happy, merely, to pick up their pay cheque and move on at the earliest opportunity.
That, then, is likely why he is so happy with his side’s recent club record signing of striker Sebastien Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt, telling the Hammers’ official website: “It’s not only the player now, but it’s also their personality and we’ve bought someone who wants to be a West Ham player and wants to work, so I’m really excited about welcoming him into the squad.”
Now, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to detect a subtle dig at former Irons attacker Marko Arnautovic in the above quote. Noble’s reference to a player’s personality and wanting to play for West Ham can only be a reference to the temperamental Austrian.
You’ll remember Arnautovic, of course. He’s the burly, boisterous former Stoke City man who twice demanded a move away from the London Stadium in order to switch to the footballing hotbed of China.
The 30-year-old eventually got his wish, sealing a move to Shanghai SIPG earlier this month. That deal did pave the way for Haller’s transfer, so it cannot be considered a bad thing, but Arnautovic’s behaviour clearly still rankles with Noble a bit.
Noble is one of those rare players these days who genuinely cares for the team he represents, so he will have been livid at seeing ‘Arnie’ throw his weight around, get a better contract from West Ham and then pick up for China six months later.
So his carefully worded point about getting the right sort of personality into the club can only be a thinly-veiled attack on his former Hammers teammate.