The Big Interview

Mark Noble says West Ham United are adapting well to new manager Slaven Bilic's fresh tactical approach

Mark Noble says he and his West Ham United teammates are adapting quickly to new manager Slaven Bilic’s fresh tactical approach, and gives his positive opinions on fellow midfielders Dimitri Payet and Reece Oxford…
Mark, let’s start with last Saturday’s 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat by Leicester City. What did you make of that game?

“That’s football really, we left it too late after they scored two in the first half which was always going to make it difficult. At the start we had a couple of chances, if either had gone in it would’ve been a completely different game. We got caught twice and it was an upward struggle from then on.”

You appear to be playing a more possession-based style and with a new 4-2-3-1 formation. How has that been?

“Of course it’ll take a while to get used to the new system. First game of the season, away at Arsenal we had nothing to lose, we could go for it and then run on adrenalin. Saturday was a good lesson for the season, and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. As a seasoned Premier League player you know these things can happen, we had some new boys out their today but even still, we know if we’d been at our best we would have won.”

A win at Arsenal and a home defeat by Leicester – same old West Ham…

“We understand we need to be more consistent. We went to Arsenal not really expecting anything but then we came home to face Leicester, people expected us to roll them over, which isn’t the case in the Premier League. Don’t get me wrong in the second half I thought we played really well; we got a goal back through Dimitri Payet and probably could have got another one or two.

“There were a lot of positives to take from the game; apart from the goals we looked pretty solid. We got punished twice and that can happen in this league.”

How have you found working under Slaven Bilic six weeks into his reign?

“We’re getting to know Slaven more and more. With the pre-season we had, the Europa League and a lot of friendlies, the team wasn’t together for a long time, probably longer then the manager would’ve wanted to. But it’s only the second game of the season, apart from the 20 minute spell I thought we played well and there are plenty of positives to take.”

Slaven admitted he was not happy at half-time at Arsenal when you were winning, so what did he say after the defeat by Leicester?

“The manager didn’t say too much after the game, we’ll have a chat about it in the week and then look ahead to the Bournemouth game.”
What sort of manager is Slaven Bilic and how does he compare to others you have worked with?

MN: "Slaven gets his points across well, he’s not the loudest but that’s not his way, he doesn’t need to be. He lets you know when he’s happy and when he isn’t. ll good managers have that edge about him, Sam had it and so does Slaven. You know he’s in charge; it’s as simple as that. What he says goes. He’s managed big sides with big reputations, but that comes with pressure and responsibility."

On the player front, Dimitri Payet looks like a real gem...

MN: "I think we’ve been crying out for a player like Dimitri Payet for a long time. He can score and create goals, he’s a top quality player and we need to keep him fit."

Finally, what words of advice have you for Reece Oxford, who was replaced at half-time after enjoying such an outstanding debut at Arsenal the previous weekend?

MN: "It was always going to be tough for Reece, he’s only sixteen years of age and I think he was feeling his hamstring a bit. He had a terrific game last weekend and then all the press hype. I think in the last few weeks he’s gone from a boy to a man, that’s what I said to him in the dressing room, he’s got a great temperament and I’m sure he’ll cope with it. He’ll be a top player for sure."