Mark Noble is a West Ham icon and will go down in the annals of club history – but after two decades, the time has come for him to take a backseat.
That is the view of ex-Spurs, Aston Villa and Scotland full-back Alan Hutton, who spoke exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams.
He made his comments after what many West Ham fans considered to be negative performances by the skipper against Chelsea and Brighton.
The 33-year-old was later dropped by manager David Moyes for the Hammers’ trip to Southampton.
Hutton has sympathy for Noble and he respects what he has done for the club, but he also feels it might be the right time for him to step aside and let the new generation take over.
“The guy’s a club legend. There’s no taking that away. He’s played for many years, won loads of games,” he told Football Insider. “But the two that are in there, Soucek and Rice, he’s not gonna play much in front of them.
“He has had his minutes this season, and he’s been taken off as well.
“Maybe it should be a case of new boys coming through now and him taking a backseat.
“I think David Moyes has found a formation that suits West Ham, with five in defence with the two midfielders sitting in and the wing-backs flying forward. And those two are a solid base, Soucek is the one that gets forward and Rice mops up everything in his own half. So Noble’s found it very difficult to get in there.
“It comes to us all. We get older, it’s difficult to get around the pitch the way these young guys can.
“I know he’s the club captain but maybe it’s just a transition period with new blood coming in.”
Whatever his playing situation, Noble is still at the forefront of ambassadorial duties for the club.
Even today, with his position under threat, he was building up understudy Declan Rice as a future England captain.