Mark Noble sensed Manchester United were there for the taking. He felt it. He was right.
When asked whether he believed Jose Mourinho’s side were vulnerable, the Hammers captain answered: ‘Of course. But the worry before the game is that for all that we know how Manchester United are at the moment and all the stuff that is being leaked out, they still have world-class players. What a result for West Ham United.
‘United would say themselves that they aren’t playing their best at the moment. But you still have to win and score goals.’
West Ham ambushed United on Saturday and Mourinho’s team had no answer. Noble was magnificent, aided ably by Declan Rice and Pedro Obiang.
Noble’s 31 years and miles on the clock mean he can no longer cover the ground he used to. The quality, undoubtedly, is still there.
Rice and Obiang can do the running for him. That midfield trio has proved a tactical masterstroke by Manuel Pellegrini, though it will be interesting to see what it means for Jack Wilshere when he regains fitness.
The Hammers’ fluent midfield provided the basis for this victory.
It is one thing to sense your opponent is on the ropes but an entirely different thing to land the knockout blow. Pellegrini’s side were ruthless in ensuring they made the most of United’s forlorn state.
It wasn’t long ago that West Ham were in a similar boat. Four losses from their opening four Premier League games and the appointment of Pellegrini was looking like one massive mistake.
Fast forward a month and the Hammers are now unbeaten in four, taking seven points from a possible nine in the league and putting eight goals past Macclesfield Town in the EFL Cup.
Mourinho will be hoping his beleaguered players can take a leaf out of West Ham’s book over the next few weeks as he battles to save his job.
So what’s the secret to West Ham’s recent upturn in fortunes?
Noble said: ‘We didn’t start well in the league. But if you dwell on that your head goes down and you start disbelieving in the team and the squad. If I do that then everyone else is going to do it.
‘I always say that when it’s going wrong you’ve got to lace your boots, go out and train as well as you can, go on the pitch and lead by example. The last two weeks have been fantastic for us — seven points and an 8-0 win in the cup.
‘Obviously we are going to have bad results and lose games but as long as the team believe in each other and don’t start talking behind each other’s back then I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine.
‘I’ve always said that winning games breeds confidence. Winning games is the be all and end all.’
Meanwhile, Hammers striker Marko Arnautovic has revealed he will play through the pain barrier in the coming weeks.
The Austria international returned to the starting XI against United, recovering adequately enough after missing last weekend’s goalless draw against Chelsea with a knee injury sustained against Everton on September 16.
Arnautovic scored West Ham’s decisive third against Mourinho’s side and said: ‘The medical staff are talking to me and if they ask me if I’m ready to play, obviously I decide if I can be involved or not.
‘It will continue to hurt for a while. I have a bone bruise on my knee and you can’t do anything about this, you need to wait until it’s going away.