Noble's critics were quick to blame their bête noir for the defeat against Everton, conveniently forgetting that Everton's first equaliser resulted from a foul by Collins in exactly the same area of the pitch. There was no argument about the award when Collins rashly and needlessly tripped Barkley, but for some reason, Ginge has not come in for the same level of criticism, even though television replays appear to support my initial impression that Noble took the ball. Allardyce is certainly convinced that the referee erred.
Sadly, some of our fans seem to delight in a Noble error, to the point where you suspect that they are actually happy when he makes a mistake that costs us a game. Instead of lambasting the referee, these Noble haters rushed to their keyboards after the game to slam the midfielder, completely ignoring the fact that he made two identical challenges earlier in the game, which the referee deemed fair, waving play on despite Everton protests - and in each case he broke up dangerous Everton attacks.
Now I accept that any challenge from behind runs the risk of conceding a free kick, and that it also carries with it the risk of a caution, so on that basis Noble was unwise to dive in, but what was he meant to do, let Barkley run unchallenged into the box with Everton players up in support? By this stage of the game, we were chasing shadows, the players exhausted by the pressing tactics employed from the first minute. Noble's challenge was, quite simply, a challenge born of desperation.
But Noble's critics don't care about context. They will not remember the earlier challenges nor the completed passes, all they will recall is that dreadful free kick straight through to Howard and the red carded "foul". It is a disgraceful way to treat a product of the Academy and if these so called fans are not careful, they will drive him out, just as Lampard would have been hounded out had not his father and uncle defended him against all the unfounded and spiteful criticism of a vindictive boo boy section in our fan base.
I am on Maiga's case at the moment, but I would love him to prove me wrong, because I care more about the club than about my own ego. I am genuinely wondering if that is true of those who delight in their Noble vendetta.