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West Ham skipper eyes top 10 finish - or even higher

PUBLISHED: 18:30 11 August 2018

West Ham United's Mark Noble

West Ham United's Mark Noble

PA Wire/PA Images

Noble impressed by new boss and talented signings

West Ham United's Mark Noble during the pre-season match at Adams Park, Wycombe.West Ham United's Mark Noble during the pre-season match at Adams Park, Wycombe.

West Ham skipper Mark Noble has seen it all before.

After 453 appearances in claret and blue, he has seen off seven Hammers managers along the way from the genial Gianfranco Zola to the bizarre Avram Grant.

So when asked about the excitement and expectations around West Ham’s forthcoming campaign, he has the wisdom to be reflective.

“I don’t know how it is going to go,” said the 31-year-old. “You just never know. I have been in pre-seasons and won every game before getting relegated under Avram Grant, but you have to go into the season with some excitement.”

Much of that is to do with the arrival of new boss Manuel Pellegrini and a host of new players as the Hammers board splashed the cash.

“Manuel has been good,” added the captain. “He gets his point across clearly and you know what he wants. He has been a real settling and calming influence and that has been good for the club.”

Pellegrini himself knows the important influence that Noble can have within the club, especially with the new players that have arrived.

“Noble is so important,” said the manager. “He has had many years here, he is the captain and he is a very good player and a very good leader.

“It’s an important duty to help the new players settle at the club. He is always talking to them, helping them to get to know the club.”

Noble has been adept at that in the past. It was he who integrated Dimitri Payet into the squad and that is why both he and manager Slaven Bilic were so hurt when the Frenchman went ‘on strike’ and demanded a move.

The skipper is more hopeful about the current crop of players.

“When you bring in the players that we have, I do get excited,” said Noble.

“I get apprehensive because I want us to do well, but I think we are heading in the right direction.

“I think the way we finished last season has carried on with the lads this time round and the players we have brought in are not just good players, they are good people as well and that means a lot.”

So many times, the Canning Town-born midfielder has been written off as a player, but every time he seems to prove everybody wrong and makes himself a vital part of the West Ham team.

So what would be a good season for the Hammers this year?

“We are going to lose games, of course we are,” he reflected. “But I am hoping we can finish high up.

“My aim is to finish between 10th and seventh, I think that would be a fantastic season for us and then we can push on again the season after.”

That seems to be a realistic prediction from someone who has lived through the ups and downs of West Ham football.

And it looks like Pellegrini has the faith in the Hammers fan to see it through.

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