Mark Noble knows a thing or two about pre-seasons and he has hailed the 2018 edition as a successful one.
The long-serving West Ham United captain, who is coming to the end of his 15th pre-season campaign, says the professional yet enjoyable atmosphere created by manager Manuel Pellegrini, his staff and the backroom team have contributed hugely to the positive vibes flowing through the squad.
While the preparation work has been physically and mentally intensive, involved plenty of travelling and six testing matches, Noble says everyone within the club has approached it in the right way.
Now, the No16 says it is up to the players to take everything they have taken from pre-season into their opening Premier League fixture against Liverpool.
There is a really positive vibe around the training ground and hopefully we can take that into the game
“Do you know what? It’s actually been really enjoyable!” he confirmed. “I’ve enjoyed the training sessions, I’ve enjoyed the games and, even though we’ve been away for nearly three weeks in total, it’s been enjoyable around the hotel and we’ve had a laugh.
“But, as everybody knows, the only thing that makes seasons enjoyable are wins. We’ve been dealt a tough blow with obviously losing Manu [Lanzini] and then getting Liverpool away in the first game of the season, because you just hope for a home game with all your fans behind you and to go out there and get the three points. We’ll just have to do it the hard way at Liverpool.
“There is a really positive vibe around the training ground and hopefully we can take that into the game.
“The organisation of pre-season has been outstanding and that’s not just come from the manager and his staff, but also from a lot of staff members who have been brought in to make things run smoothly.
“We are doing things professionally and properly and the small things can make a big difference.”
While pre-season gives every player opportunities to stake their claim for a starting place in the Premier League, it is a fact that only eleven will be on the pitch come kick-off at Anfield.
The skipper knows those not picked will be disappointed, but called on them to get behind the team and be ready to contribute positively when called upon.
“Listen, we going to need the whole squad throughout the season. It’s not just about the first eleven, but a 25-man squad and that’s what we’re going to need. You’re going to get players suspended and players injured, so you’re going to need everyone.
“The players who don’t play might be gutted but we need them to support the team and be happy around the place because it’s important to have a really good spirit and togetherness in the squad.”