Mark Noble has more than enough experience to know that West Ham United can take nothing for granted in December.
The Hammers face seven games against teams placed ninth and below in the Premier League table, kicking-off at Newcastle United on Saturday, and there is a level of expectation that Manuel Pellegrini’s side will achieve a succession of positive results over the final month of the year.
However, with more than 300 top-flight games under his belt in Claret and Blue, the captain knows the Irons will have to earn every last point.
“If we, as players, look at teams in and around us and think it’s a nailed-on three points, without going out and working for it, then we will come unstuck, no danger,” he warned in his weekly Evening Standard column.
“What we – and everyone else in the Premier League are facing over the next month though – is a demanding schedule of games, seven between now and the end of December.
“We have some players coming back to full fitness, like Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere, which will help us greatly but we still have too many out with long-term injuries.
“We’re still probably light in certain areas of the team. We’re going to give one hundred per cent in every game we play in this period and that gives us a real good chance but players will get tired over Christmas, especially the older players.
“That’s when the manager has to manage the squad in terms on training. Once the winter bites and you have a lot of games, you never really have much chance to train.”
What the manager is trying to do is instill a philosophy and a determination that, whoever we play, we play the same way and try to win the game
Noble has had his fair share of disappointment at St James’ Park down the years, winning just once there in his long and illustrious career.
He is hoping to double that victory tally this time around and hopes the positive approach of Manuel Pellegrini – himself unbeaten in four visits to Newcastle as a manager – will help him achieve that target.
“To be honest, we’ve not had a great record at St James’ Park and they’ve had three wins on the bounce, which is a tough thing to achieve,” he observed, referring to the Magpies’ recent renaissance.
“We stay positive though. What the manager is trying to do is instill a philosophy and a determination that, whoever we play, we play the same way and try to win the game.
“He is very grounded in his approach, not too high when we win or too low when we don’t.
“It will be the same on Saturday and that is the players’ mind set. I believe that breeds confidence because we know we will go out there and try to win. I like that.”