West Ham captain Mark Noble leaps to defence of under fire Andy Carroll after Cruyff gaffe against Watford

West Ham United captain Mark Noble has leapt to the defence of under fire striker Andy Carroll after his costly mistake in the 2-0 defeat to Watford.

The Hammers saw their seven game unbeaten Premier League run come to an end at Vicarage Road as well as their unbeaten away record.

Slaven Bilic's side were second best for most of the first half and would have been more than happy to get in at half-time all square.

But just five minutes before the break Carroll, making his first Premier League start for the East Londoners in more than eight months, inexplicably tried to do a Cruyff turn - the skill made famous by Dutch legend Johan - under intense pressure on the edge of his own six yard box.

He had twice failed to clear the ball leading up to the misjudged attempt to try and dupe Ikechi Anya. And his embarrassment was compounded when the Watford attacker robbed him of the ball and promptly set up Odion Ighalo to tap home from close range to make it 1-0.

The big striker was the hero last week, scoring the winner as a substitute against fierce rivals Chelsea.

But he has since come in for criticism from fans on social media for the gaffe.

'He's strong enough to take it on the chin'

Hammers skipper Noble has jumped to his teammates' defence, though, telling the club's official website the Geordie is big enough to handle any backlash.

"Look listen at the end of the day he won us the three points last week," Noble told whufc.com.

"He probably will get bad headlines because people like writing about negative stuff and that's what's going to happen.

"But he's thick(skinned) enough and strong enough to take it on the chin.

"Obviously he knew he made a mistake, we've all made mistakes this season, and obviously it cost us a goal so we just need to look forward to Everton next week."

Fluffed chances didn't help

Hammers fans may well have forgiven their record signing the mistake had he not also fluffed two very good chances to get his side back in the game afterwards.

One of the things fans love about the England striker is that he is committed and always tries to do his best for the team.

That is exactly what he was doing in getting back in his own box to help defend a free-kick. Unfortunately for him and West Ham an error of judgement on Carroll's part has cost his side dear.

Seven reasons Carroll should not be too harshly treated

Carroll should not be too harshly treated, though. Aside from the fact it was his first start in over eight months, without his impact as a sub in recent games the Hammers could be as many as seven points worse off and sitting in 13th place.

That's because in the 2-2 draw against Norwich City his aerial challenge set up Cheikhou Kouyate for a late equaliser while at Crystal Palace his knockdown set up Manuel Lanzini for a late winner.

Then last week against Chelsea his goal clinched all three points for the Irons.

He was thrust in from the start due to Diafra Sakho's injury but perhaps when the Senegal star returns Carroll will be better suited to the impact sub role again.

Whether he is happy with that long term is another matter entirely.


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