Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson has expressed his belief that West Ham United's terrible start to the 2017/18 Premier League can be blamed on midfield maestro Mark Noble.
West Ham have lost their opening three matches of the season, including an abject 3-0 away loss to Newcastle United on Saturday.
Speaking to Liverpool's official television channel LFC TV, Lawrenson tore into the former England under-21 international, pinning the blame on him for his side's woeful start to the new campaign. Lawrenson argued:
"Last year the recruitment was poor, this year it’s great. I think one of the biggest problems now is Mark Noble. He’s been such a good player, but if you watch him now, I think his legs have gone.”
The 30-year-old has become synonymous with the Hammers during his career, having been with the club since the age of 13 and going on to captain the side.
While Noble has been at the heart of the east London side for over a decade, Lawrenson contends that his best days are behind him, and that the team have become over-reliant on a player who is past his prime.
Hammers boss Slaven Bilić is now the bookies hot favourite to be the first sacked Premier League manager this season, and will need to turn his side's form around in their next match against Premier League new boys Huddersfield Town.
If Noble is the problem, then Bilić may be put into the uncomfortable position of having to phase the club captain out the side.
The Hammers had been hopeful of completing the capture of Sporting Lisbon star midfielder William Carvalho, but the move is believed to have stalled due to the player's fitness issues.
The club will be hopeful of completing a couple of deals before the transfer window closes this week, with their squad in desperate need of some strengthening in the midfield area.