- Mark Noble captained West Ham United against Italian champions Juventus on Sunday
- Fixture marked the official opening of the Hammers' new London Stadium home
- Skipper expects Club to make further signings ahead of 2016/17 campaign
Mark Noble says Sunday’s Betway Cup clash with Juventus gave West Ham United a taste of top-level European football.
The captain led the Hammers out against the Italian Serie A champions and his team played their part in a five-goal thriller which Juve edged 3-2.
Noble, as did everyone in the record 53,966-strong crowd, thoroughly enjoyed the official opening of the Club’s new London Stadium home and the part Juventus played in it.
“This is the level we want to get the Club to,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to take a while because Juventus have won the Serie A title the last five years and are a tremendous team.
“Listen, when you spend £78m on a striker (Gonzalo Higuain), it’s a different league to us, but we’ve moved into our new Stadium, which will generate more money, so we look to the future.”
Captain Noble shakes hands with opposite number Giangluigi Buffon
West Ham have now completed their pre-season schedule, during which they have played two matches in the United States, three in Austria, one in Slovenia and two at London Stadium.
The Hammers have signed seven new players – Sofiane Feghouli, Havard Nordtveit, Gokhan Tore, Arthur Masuaku, Ashley Fletcher, Domingos Quina and Antonio Martinez – and successfully negotiated a potential UEFA Europa League banana skin in NK Domzale.
However, Slaven Bilic has also lost Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini to knee injuries, and Noble expects further arrivals to bolster the squad between now and the end of August.
“It’s hard to say how we’ll do this year, to be honest,” said Noble. “We’re going to bring in a few new players, for sure, we’re in a new Stadium and we’re in the Europa League. We’re playing Monday, Thursday, Sunday and then Thursday again, so we need players.
“The manager said in his press conference that it doesn’t help the Premier League season and I agree, but on the other hand you don’t want to go out of the Europa League, so it’s catch-22 really.
“We’re expected to have a good season, but travelling to Romania and getting back at three or four o’clock in the morning is not ideal, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”
West Ham kick-off the 2016/17 Premier League campaign at Chelsea on Monday 15 August before boarding a flight to Romania for a Europa League rematch with Astra Giurgiu three nights later.
With the opening home league game against AFC Bournemouth to follow on Sunday 21 and the London Stadium return leg against Astra on Thursday 25 to follow, Noble says squad depth will be vital if the Hammers are to keep firing on all fronts.
“We had a few younger players with no experience at this level on the bench against Domzale so we need a few more in and a few back from injury, but I’m sure we’ll be fine.
“We’ve got a good balance in there of good, honest hard-working players and I’m just looking forward to the start of the season. When you start playing for real points in the Premier League, that’s when it really takes care of itself.
“My aim personally is to pick up where I left off last season, which I felt was my best in West Ham colours. I thoroughly enjoyed it, leading the team and playing with some top, top players, so if we can add a few more to that squad I think we’ll be fine.”