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Nathaniel John, West Ham Correspondent
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Hammers midfielder Mark Noble is desperate to wipe away the memories of their relegation under Avram Grant by making a splash in the Premier League this time round
Hammer-of-the-Year Mark Noble can’t wait to right the club’s previous Premier League wrongs when the season kicks off this weekend, writes Nathaniel John.
The 25-year-old midfielder has had a somewhat busier summer than his West Ham colleagues, having been on his stag do and subsequently got married, but Noble admitted the toughest part of the past couple of months has definitely been his gruelling pre-season training.
“Pre-season has definitely been the hardest thing I’ve done all summer,” he said.
“I mean the stag do was brilliant, the wedding was fantastic, but then I have had a long seven weeks of pre-season training and played in nine games, so I should be fit and ready to go.”
This time last year the club were still reeling from their relegation to the Championship, however, fast-forward 12 months and Noble reveals things couldn’t be more different, and that he is loving the pressure that life in the top flight brings.
“You don’t tend to think about the difference in atmosphere at the club until the final few days before the start of the season and you come out and there are 20 cameras on you,” he said.
“Last season in the Championship there were only five, so it is definitely different, but there are a lot of players that are used to that pressure.”
Hammers chief Sam Allardyce has been busy in the transfer market this summer, bringing in midfield recruits Mohamed Diame and Alou Diarra among others.
However, despite the addition of two experienced players in his position, Noble isn’t feeling under pressure and is confident that he can keep his place in the team.
“I work hard every day in training and every time I play I work as hard as I can,” said the Canning Town-born midfielder.
“Obviously we have five or six midfielders here and only two, three or four can play so there will be a couple that miss out and I am not planning on being one of them.”
Noble was part of the West Ham team that was relegated from the top flight in 2011 and he is determined to put things right this time around, and believes that the Hammers have enough quality to avoid the drop.
“The last time we were in the Premier League, everything was all over the place in terms of the manager and it was just a horrible season to be involved in,” he said.
“This time, hopefully, it will be more cheerful and obviously we are under pressure to stay up, but we aren’t just looking to stay up, we want to finish in the top 10 or around about that and have a good first season and build from there.
“We, 100 per cent, have enough quality in the squad to stay up.”
Fans’ favourite Noble managed to find the back of the net eight times last season, with seven of those coming from the penalty spot, and although the midfielder admits it is always nice to score goals, he doesn’t care where they come from, as long as they are being scored.
“I played 90 per cent of last season in the holding role and let the likes of Nobby (Kevin Nolan) go forward and score goals,” he said. “As long as we are winning games and picking up points I don’t really mind who scores.
“It’ll be nice to get a few goals, but we will just see what happens.”