Mark Noble got his 2015/16 season off to a fine start with a goal and a typically bullish performance during Saturday’s 3-3 friendly draw at Peterborough United.
The match marked new manager Slaven Bilic’s first full game in charge and it was clear that the 20 players who appeared in claret and blue were keen to impress their new boss. Noble, who was joined on the scoresheet by Diafra Sakho and Martin Samuelsen, is already talking up the impact made by Bilic, but admitted it will take some time for his philosophy to be fully instilled on the squad.
“We’ve got a new manager and new ways and the lads will have to get used to it,” Noble said. “Once the lads get used to it, the new manager will drill in to us how he wants us to play and how we’re going to gel together.
“Slaven is an approachable man and he has made it clear that we can approach him. He’s been fantastic up until now but it’s still pre-season so it’s not normally well into the season that you see the real character of the manager.
“We had Sam for four years and he did fantastically for the club after getting us promoted and then three more years in the Premier League. But there are now a bunch of new staff and new players and I’m looking forward to working with them all.”
The starting XI offered Noble and the likes of Adrian, Winston Reid, James Collins, Aaron Cresswell, Kevin Nolan and Modibo Maiga their first match action of pre-season, before a host youngsters saw out the final 30 minutes. New signings Martin Samuelsen and Pedro Obiang also got their first games in a West Ham shirt and showed the potential they will add to Bilic’s squad.
“We felt good out there and a 3-3 draw is an entertaining one for the supporters. It was the first 45 minutes back and everyone came through it, which is the main thing.
“My legs feel fine. We’ve had a good ten days training in Ireland and we did a lot of work out there. You can tell by the way the boys have come back for pre-season that they’ve done a lot of work to keep themselves in shape over the summer.”
With UEFA Europa League commitments meaning there have effectively been two separate pre-seasons going on at the same time, Monday will see normal service resume and Noble is looking forward to re-joining some familiar faces on the training pitch.
“It’s been a bit of a strange pre-season and normally everyone is together but we haven’t seen many of the other boys like Joey O’Brien and James Tomkins and only saw Diafra Sakho for the first time after he got back from Andorra.
“It’s a little bit strange but then we can all gel together as a team and get the new signings training with us every day and hopefully we can have that as an almost new start to our pre-season.”
The five new signings made thus far are all expected to report to Chadwell Heath on Monday, when Obiang will be joined by Dimitri Payet, Angelo Ogbonna, Stephen Hendrie and Darren Randolph. The Board have promised further new additions and Noble is excited by the ambition being shown.
“I’m pleased with the investment made and we need to as it’s a big season for us and we need to spend money to compete with the rest of the teams. We’ve brought Dimitri, Angelo and Pedro in and we need to now gel together on Monday and push on from there.
“They’ll be players coming in and some going out, but that’s pre-season. You never know what’s going to happen but we seem to be making the right moves off the pitch, which can hopefully help us on it.”