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Q: 2022/23 You are the Chairman what do you do with Moyes?
a. Stick with him obviously, he's delivered two good seasons back to back and will see us out of this dip in form
b. If we're still lingering around the bottom three by the start of the WC then that's the time to get rid
c. What are we waiting for 2 wins in the last 20 PL games is reason enough to sack him, go now
d. I've just got my new Orange & White 3rd Kit with Moyesinho on the back, I can't wait to wear it down to the supermarket, they call me Mr West Ham around here

Irish Hammer 11:28 Tue Jun 29
Decent Article on our Declan Rice

How Declan Rice became an elite midfielder

Initiation songs are common for new signings, or those who make the transition from academy to the first team — but rarely does a player choose a song that fits the description of where their future is heading.

Hidden in the archives of Michail Antonio’s Instagram is a video of a gangly Declan Rice, standing on a chair, swaying side to side and confidently singing — we can leave you to judge the quality — the lyrics to R Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest”.

The video was taken in July 2017 during West Ham United’s pre-season training camp in Austria where Rice left a lasting impression. He immersed himself in the pranks and caught the eye in friendlies against Sturm Graz II, Fulham and Werder Bremen. Two months earlier, former manager Slaven Bilic had handed Rice his first-team debut against Burnley and initially the hope was for the then 18-year-old to provide competition to Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate.

But to borrow the boxing parlance, Rice went from a fighter who had a puncher’s chance to a fighter who learned how to box — and since then his trajectory has culminated in him becoming an elite holding midfielder. The scariest thing about Rice’s development is he is only 22.

With Noble no longer a first-team regular, Rice excelled as captain last season and established one of the best midfield partnerships in the league with Tomas Soucek. It was Rice who acted as a big brother for the likes of Jamal Baptiste, Harrison Ashby and Oladapo Afolayan, now at Bolton Wanderers, before the trio made their first-team debuts. The England international helped out in the pandemic by phoning elderly West Ham fans in isolation.

“Mark Noble had played so many years in a successful way at West Ham,” Manuel Pellegrini tells The Athletic. “He is a man of the club; he started as a young player and has influence on the young players. He’s a good person for players to follow. Declan Rice is different. He’s a top player who started as a centre-back. We spoke about him becoming a central midfielder. He worked very hard.

“Maybe the club didn’t believe in him too much and wanted to send him on loan and I said, ‘No, he will be a very good player’. In my first season with him he made a jump to the top level. He improved in the second season and arrived in the national squad. West Ham is a big club, but he will end up at a club which is winning titles and he’s absolutely prepared for that.”

West Ham have not received a bid for Rice and are confident the midfielder’s valuation will deter any potential suitors. In December 2018 he signed a long-term contract which runs until summer 2024, with a further one-year option that the club can extend. In March, Moyes proclaimed Rice is worth “far more” than £100 million.

But despite being a target for Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, the progress Rice has made to become one of the best players in his position has not gone unnoticed. One of the biggest takeaways from his performances last season is Rice disproving the narrative that he is limited to sliding tackles and playing safe passes. He showed signs he is becoming more of a box-to-box midfielder, as well as being keen to improve the offensive side of his game. He averaged 30 carries per 90 minutes last season, the highest of his career so far, to show he is happier to drive with the ball upfield.

David Moyes Declan Rice West Ham United
Moyes has made Rice his West Ham captain (Photo: Adam Davy/Pool via Getty Images)
His next objective will be to nullify the threat of Toni Kroos when England host Germany.

“He’s world-class,” Rice said. “For me and other midfielders, we want to test ourselves against the best. We need to make it physical and make it hard and stop him doing what he does best, which is spraying it around the pitch.”

If Rice is tasked with marking Kroos he only has to reflect on his performance in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United in July 2020 as a source of motivation. It was a match of huge significance with Moyes’ side securing Premier League safety, but one which reaffirmed why Rice is a sought-after talent.

He was composed in midfield and prevented Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic from dictating the tempo of the game. Defensively, he outshone the duo having won four tackles, made four interceptions, made two clearances and only lost three duels, fewer than Pogba (four) and Matic (seven). Alongside the goalless draw at Aston Villa in September 2019, that performance at Old Trafford is one of Rice’s best performances defensively.

“When I joined West Ham it was two years prior to giving him a debut,” Bilic tells The Athletic. “The best prospect at the time was Reece Oxford and Declan was Reece Oxford a year and a half after because he was the best player in the academy. What set apart Declan from the others is how dedicated he was. He wasn’t what we call in Croatia a strange body (someone who isn’t afraid). Straightaway he was involved and it’s been great to watch his progress from afar.

“He’ll be coming up against a world-class player in Toni Kroos but Rice should be confident. He’s a top player himself and his game intelligence is so good for his age. He’s improved so much and every few months you’re discovering something that you didn’t know he had in his locker. He can go very far, he’s going places.”

Before the Euros, Kevin Nolan, the first-team coach at West Ham, eulogised about how important Rice will be for England this summer. The midfielder has started all of England’s games so far, where he has played alongside Kalvin Phillips.

Rice likened his partnership with the Leeds United midfielder to that of his club team-mate Soucek. He is comfortable sitting in front of the defence to follow Phillips to advance forward, similar to his man-of-the-match performance against Croatia. But both have it in their locker to stop an attack and launch counter-attacking opportunities.

Rice proved that with a surging run in the 3-3 draw against Arsenal, accelerating past four players and forcing a great save from Bernd Leno. Aside from England, you only have to look at the stats to see how important he is. West Ham have played 131 league games with Rice in the team since he made his first-team debut in May 2017; they have won 49 and lost 50 with a win rate of 37.4 per cent. Without Rice they have played 22, won six, and lost 12 with a win rate of 27.3 per cent.

Those close to the midfielder say he is humble, despite his success on the field. He is family orientated and in October he and his girlfriend Lauren celebrated their fifth anniversary. When he landed back in the UK after helping England conclude their Euro 2020 qualifying with a 4-0 win over Kosovo in November 2019, Rice, on his day off, surprised the students at his old secondary school Grey Court in Richmond, west London. It is his ability to help others that makes Rice such a likeable person.

“I don’t know Declan personally, but he is friends with quite a few of my family and friends,” Keighley Louise, who Rice helped with fundraising for charity, tells The Athletic. “Declan donated to my daughter’s fundraising event for my cousin’s husband Bradley, who was sadly diagnosed with a brain tumour not long after finding out that he and his wife were expecting their first baby. Unfortunately, Bradley lost his fight and passed away on Christmas Eve — but it was such a nice thing for Declan to do.”

The majority of West Ham supporters believe he is the club’s most talented player since Rio Ferdinand. The defender left the club to join Leeds United in 2000 and Bilic is of the opinion Rice remains in good hands.

“He’s not a Paul Gascoigne where every day you have crazy stories,” he says. “Declan was serious for his age and you only had to tell him once. Some players you tell them something four times and they still don’t get it. I remember, after the game against Burnley, I called him into my office but he called me ‘Slav’. Even Mark Noble calls me ‘boss’ or ‘gaffer’ so when Declan Rice said ‘Slav’ I knew it wasn’t in a bad way or disrespectful way but I made my face serious and I said, ‘How did you call me Slav?’ And then he just fucking froze and said, ‘I’m so sorry’. Then I started laughing. That’s probably my favourite memory of Declan.

“Jesse Lingard was great last season, so was Michail Antonio and the defence played well. But what allowed them to make that next step was Soucek and Rice’s partnership in midfield. Soucek’s goals from midfield and his aerial threat, plus Rice’s ability to read the game. They were brilliant so if I’m Declan there’s no rush to join a bigger club right now. He’s learning under Moyes, he was the captain last season, West Ham almost qualified for the Champions League and they’re making good progress. Declan is definitely ready to play for one of the big clubs but my advice to him would be to keep progressing where you are.”

The Initation clip is here : love the ballsy song choice ! https://www.instagram.com/p/BWnu9galC6K/?utm_medium=copy_link

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Manuel 8:11 Thu Jul 1
Re: Decent Article on our Declan Rice
'Our Declan'? Are you speaking Northern now?

chim chim cha boo 2:25 Tue Jun 29
Re: Decent Article on our Declan Rice
Cheers Irish, excellent as always.

Vexed 1:48 Tue Jun 29
Re: Decent Article on our Declan Rice
'How Declan Rice became an elite midfielder'

Is the article set in the future then?

62Hammer 12:48 Tue Jun 29
Re: Decent Article on our Declan Rice
* Bobby (sorry!).

62Hammer 12:48 Tue Jun 29
Re: Decent Article on our Declan Rice
Excellent read. One bit that stood out for me was "the narrative that he is limited to sliding tackles..." That's just what he doesn't do. One of his strengths is that he tackles without going to ground - like Booby Moore, like Rio Ferdinand.

terry-h 11:39 Tue Jun 29
Re: Decent Article on our Declan Rice
Thanks Irish. Another excellent production.

We should be building a team round Declan Rice not wondering as Sullivan no doubt does,how much we can get for him in the transfer market.

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