West Ham fans were “shocked” at David Moyes’ “really bad” decision to start Mark Noble against Manchester United.
That is according to ex-Leeds star Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Noble put in an underwhelming performance in the 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday.
It was the West Ham captain’s first start since signing a new one-year contract extension with the club the previous Tuesday.
An Open Letter from Mark Noble.
— West Ham United (@WestHam) March 9, 2021
The 33-year-old one-club man also announced that next season would be his last before hanging up his boots.
Against Manchester United, he was replaced by Said Benrahma after 63 minutes, 10 minutes after West Ham conceded the only goal of the game.
Whelan claims there is no room for sentiment in football and that manager Moyes should have known better than to start the ageing Noble on Sunday.
He told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs: “I think it was a mistake. I think there was a little bit of, not quite naivety, but a little bit more love for a player who’s been at the club a long time.
“You’re looking at a Manchester United side that is so athletic, so energetic. As an opposition player, you must be thinking you can get around Noble easily. He hasn’t got the legs he used to, they’ve gone.
“Yes, he’s got the intelligence but when it comes to the physicality and the running power that you’re going to need against this Manchester United side, it was probably the wrong decision to make.
“You can’t have friends in football. You’ve got to make the right decisions to get the results. When you’re matching up player-for-player, I think it was a really bad decision.
“You can’t match him up against Fernandes, you can’t match him up against McTominay, there’s too much energy and power there.
“Looking at social media reactions, I’m not surprised that so many West Ham fans were shocked to see that.”
Noble turns 34 in May and made his West Ham debut as a 17-year-old in 2004.
He has featured 529 times for the Hammers and only six players have played more times for the club.