By George Overhill

21st Feb, 2022 | 10:10am

Rio Ferdinand lauds Mark Noble for leadership during controversial time at West Ham

Rio Ferdinand has singled out West Ham captain Mark Noble for praise during a difficult time for the club amid the Kurt Zouma controversy.

After footage came out of the defender kicking and slapping his cat, there have been numerous criticisms and counter-criticisms, stemming as much from David Moyes’ decision to not take him out of the starting line up against Watford, as the videos themselves.

Ex-hammer Ferdinand believes the current skipper has performed an important role in keeping the team together while dealing with the problem.

Speaking on BT Sport ahead of the Irons draw with Newcastle (Saturday 19 February), via the Daily Mail, the former England captain said: “We hear that Mark Noble has called a captains’ meeting as well. You need to know where your squad are at and it’s good to find out who’s not happy. 

“‘What are your concerns about it? Let’s keep the harmony in the squad.’ Don’t forget West Ham are in a position to get into Europe and the Champions League even. 

“They need to be mindful without glossing over the issue. I think Mark Noble has done an admirable job in that.”

Captain’s role

Despite not making the starting line-up so frequently these days it will please Hammers fans to hear that Noble is still a strong influence among the players.

Declan Rice has largely taken over on-pitch captain duties as he is virtually undroppable.

And it has to be said, for all the outside criticism of Zouma, Moyes, and the club over the cat issue, the squad themselves appear united.

It was clearly a contentious issue in the first place, for which the French defender could not escape censure.

If any of his teammates reacted especially badly to it, the whole issue could have fragmented the squad.

One would hope that simply excusing the bad behaviour of a teammate out of self-interest has not been the course of action.

But if the players have been able to work out any differences as adults and do it in-house that is a positive for the team’s hopes of challenging for European places this season.

If anything it would seem that a failure to strengthen in the transfer window is currently a bigger threat to a successful end to the campaign.

In other West Ham news, Stan Collymore shares a rumoured complaint made to the referee during the Newcastle game surrounding the controversy.