West Hamís Noble intent

Some say itís easy to criticise West Ham..and Iíve done my fair shareÖ but it should also be easy for praise when it is merited. Like now.

From Mark Noble's extended contract to supporting Rainbow Laces, limbless veterans and the new, extensive Players Project, all I can say is 'praise where it is due.'

Sorting out a one year extension to Noble's contract, keeping him at the club in some capacity until he is 35, ends once and for all the constant speculation about the captain's future.

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I make no apologies for always being a big fan. And that flies in the face sometimes of the relentless, laptop warriors and their sneering. 'Too slow (even he admits he has never had pace), 'a Championship player', 'worst player in the Premier League', Noble has been called it all this season and I believe by now it is water off a duck's back for him.

Gladly, the club do not agree and have given Noble the chance to stay for the rest of his career and set himself up for a managerial/coaching job at some stage. Whether that is at West Ham is debatable.

It's hard to move from playing at the top level straight into club management. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have started away from their former clubs, Chelsea and Liverpool. Sol Campbell is at Macclesfield.

But few would be surprised if Lampard and Gerrard one day end up back at Stamford Bridge and Anfield, respectively. Sol? Well that's a different matter, Spurs or Arsenal? That would be fun, wouldn't it?

Maybe too, Noble could become our manager. His contract extension ends roughly the same time as Manuel Pellegrini's. Let's just see what happens.

Pellegrini has been clear that Noble may not play every match, much like Pablo Zabaleta, who it seems now is open to another season with us.

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Noble staying on will enrage the haters, but his value is clear to many more. Motivator, leader, experienced and doggedly persistent around midfield.

My lad, occasionally, says something sensible, and his view recently was that when we move to a level where we can buy someone to do Noble's job better, then that will be the day our skipper will take a back seat. Until then, well he'll just keep on doing what he has been doing.

This season , after he was sent off at Leicester, West Ham won just one of the next four games. Since his return we have won three on the trot. 'Nuff said. Let's hope he gets a special ovation when he leads the team out at Fulham.

There are other things, though, that West Ham have got right of later. Supporting Rainbow laces is one, so is working with Blesma, the club's charity partners to help limbless veterans. Hard to seeing anything but good in both ventures.

But it is the Players Project that impresses me most. Many clubs do work in the community, and we are no exception. But the Project is by far the biggest and most extensive I can recall at any club.

We even have Robert Snodgrass catching a lift to the ground on the accessibility bus recently, what a thoroughly decent thing to do.

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But all the players have been split into 11 groups to take on community projects. There is much in east London and beyond that needs help and care, as in the rest of the country. So for the club to try to tackle poverty, jobs, health, education, equality, loneliness amongst others, is an enormous challenge, but a worthy one, too.

I have felt for a while that our club needs a better image, we seem to lurch from one problem to another, without me wanting to drag it all up again.

But this initiative is already being rated the biggest in the Premier League. You just hope it makes a difference to peoples' lives. Things like this tend to go a bit unnoticed by the general media, and the club deserve praise for the tough challenges they are taking on.

And all this coming with us losing just one of our last seven league games and rising to mid-table on the back of some really excellent football with the realisation that we have a genuinely special player in Felipe Anderson. Some fine goals, too, he doesn't seem to do tap-ins.

He has clearly benefited from Manuel Pellegrini's patient management. He has learnt what he can and can't get away with in the PL, with Pelle curtailing his long runs in possession because he clearly loses out to tough treatment from 'bigger players' as Pelle pointed out.

The Brazilian has blossomed in recent weeks, the trick is to do it again at Fulham to keep the run going and elevate the team into genuine contention for a European spot.

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Pelle is one of the coaches who is able to improve players under his control, no lavish praise, but thoughtful advice. Declan Rice has been told he needs to improve his technique, Snodgrass needed to lose weight and work his socks off.

Andy Carroll knows he has to work for a new contract - and Reece Oxford has been told he is on his bike.

The charming man is also the quiet man, but everyone seems to know where they stand. Keep it going everyone. Just the consistency now.

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