Ex-West Ham favourite James Collins has claimed that he would sometimes start a fight with Hammers skipper Mark Noble “on purpose” in training.
The former Iron made the claim in relation to Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez’s much publicised clash in England’s preparation for their current Euro 2020 qualification matches, and has suggested that he and Noble would occasionally orchestrate a confrontation as a means of motivating those around them.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, he said: “Me and Mark Noble, we obviously played in a lot of tough times at West Ham, we used to sometimes have a little square up or fight in training on purpose, because you could see in the other boys faces, ‘hang on, if Ginge and Nobes are doing this, they care this much in training’.
“It sort of galvanised the group a little bit.”
This is a bit of a strange one, definitely, but you can’t deny that there is a certain logic to it. If you’ve got two of your senior men going at each other in training then it will absolutely make you stop and take stock, and would probably make you question your own levels of passion and commitment too. It does feel like something from a bygone era, mind you, and you could probably argue that it wouldn’t be a manager’s preferential scenario, but it sounds as if Collins and Noble were never serious, and that the whole thing was closer to a play than an actual bust-up. It also makes you wonder how often things like this go on behind the scenes at professional clubs, and gives a fascinating insight into one of the only aspects of the modern game that we as fans are still relatively in the dark about.