Rice exit blessing in disguise


By CandH follower John Weir 

I had been musing on the Declan Rice situation at West Ham for a while and despite the fact that I loved him as a player and would hate to see him go, thought that it might become an enforced blessing in disguise.

He had grown too big for the club – under this manager anyway! It’s very early days but that seems to be the way it is panning out.
During his time with us out of nowhere, the Hammers become a frightening team to play. Huge speed on the breakaways and you didn’t worry too much if they went behind as they were always going to score.
This transformation came with the arrival of the two Czech players, Coufal and Soucek with the midfielder in particular becoming a dramatic success,  scoring at will, with late runs into the box or at set pieces. This continued for 18 months.

It ended when Declan forced Moyes’ hand into swapping the roles of himself and Soucek at the start of 2022 as the pundits demanded more goals from Rice who was switched to become the more attacking of the two central, defensive midfielders.

Very few people noticed the reality at West Ham and all we heard was that you couldn’t sack Moyes after what he has done for the club.
Well, he proved himself to be very weak in practice. Also, Rice became the player that everyone passed to at the expense of the rest of the team.
The goals dried up for Soucek who had become the team’s main scoring threat. Rice scored nowhere near enough to compensate.
They Irons began to slide away but still managed to qualify for the UEFA Conference League. Otherwise the season became a disaster.
Results for the first part of season 2021/2 before and after New Year followed by the first part of 2022/3 up to the end of New Year were as follows:
2021/2: (a) P20 W 10 L 5 D 5 F/A 37/26
2021/2 (b) P18 W5 L 8 D 5 F/A 23/22
2022/3 (a) P18 W4 L 11 D 3 F/A 15/24
The difference with Rice switching from defensive to attacking midfield is stark.
This season, the issue will be whether they successfully replace his defensive capabilities.
It looked horrible in pre-season and little better in the first match this season as the opposition found defence splitting passes through the middle with ease.
However, I see real hope with Alvarez in this role and the team have now started to score again following two great results against Chelsea and Brighton.
Events may make this all look silly, but I had been concerned about the overbearing influence Rice had since January 2022.

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • Buster says:

    I wouldn’t describe Declan’s influence as ‘overbearing’ nor would I say he’d become ‘too big’ for the club!
    However, I’d definitely say that West Ham had become over-reliant on him. We will know if this is true as and when new midfielders Alvarez, Kudos and Ward-Prowse get acclimatised to how the team plays over the next ten to fifteen games. The two televised games I’ve seen in the past week highlighted a difference for sure because West Ham won them…..but it’s far too early to say if it’s been a blessing in disguise. Manchester City and Liverpool await soon after the international break, so let’s see how West Ham perform against them.

  • Budgie says:

    I remember the days of Bobby Moore, the team became over reliant on him. As a result our league form innparticular was mostly poor and at best mid table. It’s a team game so a proper distribution of responsibility and skills should serve us well.

  • simoncez says:

    Glad someone else noticed, Soucek took a lot of heat for his drop off in goals

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