In different ways, two West Ham players have the ability to bring back West Ham from the Dimitri Payet debacle and turn the squabble into a force for good.
Mark Noble and Andy Carroll are pivotal for the club as it comes to terms with the bodyblow of the Frenchman’s strike.
The captain Noble is the heart, soul and tradition of the club and it is for him to lead by example and bring his team-mates with him. Andy Carroll is good for morale – cheerful, willing and honest – he can do what he does best – charge around both on and off the pitch, the very opposite of Payet’s petulance.
Both those players showed those qualities on Saturday with the 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Manager Slaven Bilic has looked shattered since he was forced to make the revelation of Dimitri Payet’s hardline stance and looked in need of support.
Since then he has seen the fans rally round the club and the players demonstrate their abilities on the pitch.
“I expected that [the reaction] from the crowd and from the players, and I think it was a great example that it’s all about the team, not individuals,” Bilic told the club’s website .
It is ironic, perhaps, that last year’s Hammer of the Year has done more to make the London Stadium feel like home off the pitch than he has on it. And it was not his silky link-up play that produced a superlative team performance but his absence. It was not a telling free kick that brought the supporters to full voice but his betrayal.
Both Noble and Carroll have voiced their frustration with their team-mate, who – despite strong words from management – is likely to be shipped out in January, probably to Marseille.
Noble said: “I am angry and disappointed, because I have always said that he is one of the best players I have ever played with.
“I had – and I say had because I haven’t really spoken to him for the last two or three weeks – a great relationship with him, but I don’t know his reasons.
“If someone doesn’t want to play for the team then they are better off not even playing.”
After nailing a spectacular scissors kick goal in a 3-0 win against Sam Allardyce’s Palace, Carroll said: “I don’t think any player is bigger than the club. That’s what the lads believe, the manager, all the staff and the fans. We showed we’re a tight group and got three points for it.”
Noble also heaped praised on Bilic for handling the difficult situation in the right manner.
“I thought the manager was right in what he did because it is hard. You have to win games and if you have your best player who doesn’t want to play for you then obviously he has had to do something about it,” the 29-year-old said.
“I have been here all my life so I find it hard to realise that someone wouldn’t want to play for the club. It’s a massive club and he is absolutely adored – was adored here – by the fans. But football and fans change quickly.”
Payet will be expected to report for training as usual on Monday (January 15) although he will not be training with the first-team squad and his activities could be determined by the extent of a back injury.
Bilic said on Thursday: “Until he changes his attitude he is out of the team and he’s not going to train with us.
“But we are not going to sell him. I expect him to come back and show commitment and determination to the team, like the team has shown to him.”
Both Bilic and co-chairman David Sullivan said that he would not be allowed to leave the club but their stance is said to have softened after considering the damage to morale of his presence. Co-chairman Karren Brady hinted as much in a newspaper column, suggesting it was best he was on his way.
Payet, who signed a bumper £125,000-a-week five-year contract last February, is understood to want a move back to former club Marseille.
A steward was placed in front of a mural of the midfielder outside the London Stadium on Saturday to prevent it being vandalised.