WHO Poll
Q: 2021/22 What competition should we prioritise this season?
a. The league is our bread & butter, so this year let's have a club sandwich
b. We're owed an FA Cup after Gerrard nicked our last one in 06, our name's on it in 22
c. A bye to the League Cup 3rd round gives us a good start, let's make it count
d. The Europa is our best ticket to the Champions League, this is the one
e. What's wrong with you, let's do the lot, has the quadruple ever been done

Irish Hammer 12:31 Fri Sep 17
Article on Captain Fantastic Declan Rice
Declan Rice wants to be more like Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira – he’s going in the right direction

“To reach the next level Declan Rice has to learn how to progress the ball forward. Look up and hit the centre-forward. That’s where he’ll reach the next level.”

This was on the opening day of the Premier League season before West Ham’s game against Newcastle United, and it was not the first time that a football pundit — Graeme Souness in this instance — has expressed concern about Declan Rice’s ball progression. What followed was a man-of-the-match display in a 4-2 win for West Ham at St James’ Park.

After last night’s excellent goal against Dinamo Zagreb, which helped give West Ham a perfect start to their Europa League campaign, there should be no more doubting whether Rice is good enough at carrying the ball forward.

The 22-year-old’s main attributes are his ability to read the game, his penchant for making interceptions, tackles and thriving in his role as the club’s on-field leader. But the goal he scored in the comfortable 2-0 win in Zagreb, on his 150th appearance for West Ham, served as a distinct reminder of how good he is at making driving runs from midfield.

It is an area of Rice’s game that has improved massively over the last 18 months. Rice has been on record citing former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal captain, as players he would like to emulate. He has been studying videos of them so he can become a more complete player. So far it has had the desired effect.

Playing alongside Tomas Soucek, who is known for being more attack-minded, has also been great for Rice’s development. It is arguably one of the best midfield partnerships in the Premier League.

The goal against Dinamo Zagreb had all the hallmarks of Yaya Toure during his pomp at Manchester City. When he intercepted Josip Sutalo’s pass, the Zagreb midfielder Josip Misic was unable to shrug him off the ball. The England international continued to advance forward and fired his strike between the legs of Dominik Livakovic. Not bad for a player who some have suggested can only pass sideways.

Although Rice was instructed to refrain from making driving runs during this summer’s Euros, his stock continued to rise with each game he played for England and it highlighted why he continues to be such a sought-after talent. But even with credited interest from Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, Rice remains focused on being a key player for West Ham. His contract expires in the summer of 2024, although there is the option to extend for a further year.

This is the player who cut short his holiday in Ibiza by five days to return for pre-season training at Pennyhill Park. Not even a 10-day break in the sun with close friends was going to deter Rice from maintaining his discipline and he kept up his fitness with regular runs.

For those who think Rice’s goal in Croatia was a one-off, they are mistaken. He scored a similar goal in the 3-0 win against Southampton in May.

Pablo Fornals was in possession near the halfway line when Rice spotted the space down the left flank.

Fornals threaded a pass to his team-mate and Rice advanced forward, leaving the Southampton defence trailing behind him, before dispatching a shot past Alex McCarthy.

Last season the midfielder scored twice in 32 league appearances and it is something that his manager David Moyes and the West Ham coaching staff have challenged Rice to improve on. A player of Rice’s quality could be capable of scoring double figures if he gets into the right areas.

Against Zagreb, Rice, aged 22 years and 245 days, became West Ham’s youngest goalscorer in a major European competition since Frank Lampard scored against NK Osijek in the 1999-00 UEFA Cup (21y 88d). During Lampard’s playing career, driving runs into the box became his unique selling point and made him a nightmare for opposition midfielders.

Perhaps this is how Leicester City midfielder Nampalys Mendy felt in their 3-0 loss to West Ham in October 2020. Rice was in possession and went on a meandering run through the centre of the pitch, intent on adding his name to the scoreline.

Despite Mendy’s best efforts, he was no match for Rice’s pace but the West Ham player’s left-footed strike cannoned off the crossbar. It certainly merited a goal and is another example of how Rice’s all-round game has improved massively.

It’s worth mentioning that Rice is capable of dribbling and shooting with both feet. The goal last night was with his left, as was the chance against Leicester above, while the one against Southampton was crashed home with his right foot. It is another reason why he is a desirable option for the bigger sides.

In March, before the home fixture against Leeds United, Rice’s long-term future was a talking point.

“I don’t agree with the owners that Declan Rice is a £100 million footballer,” said Moyes. “Far, far more than £100 million. Far, far more. I look at the players who have joined some clubs from overseas and come in and nowhere near had the impact of Declan Rice would have. Also English, just had Brexit, so I wouldn’t agree with the owners if Declan Rice was only £100 million. No, I wouldn’t.

“I certainly wouldn’t put a price on it. The owners think he’s worth £100 million — well, I completely disagree with that. You can decide which figure you want to put on it but I wouldn’t be sanctioning anything like that, that’s for sure.”

And that was before Rice starred at the Euros and now led West Ham to victory in the Europa League…

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Too Much Too Young 9:14 Fri Sep 17
Re: Article on Captain Fantastic Declan Rice
If let to dream.

I'd love us to win the next world cup with Declan as captain for England and still with us.

Reaffirming the notion the country needs a West Ham captain to win trophies.

Pub Bigot 8:50 Fri Sep 17
Re: Article on Captain Fantastic Declan Rice
He'll leave when the time comes with a heavy heart, but the love of us. He's been superb and I hope he gets the accolades he's chasing, preferably with us.

Lily Hammer 8:35 Fri Sep 17
Re: Article on Captain Fantastic Declan Rice
Apart from the very VERY rare blips, which I could count on one hand, he gets a little bit better every single match.

Manuel 7:57 Fri Sep 17
Re: Article on Captain Fantastic Declan Rice
Watching the game last night you could see he totally bossed it. Apart from his obvious skills on the ball, his positional sense is also very good. Imagine if he started to add more goals to his game. He will only get better too.

gph 4:25 Fri Sep 17
Re: Article on Captain Fantastic Declan Rice
To be fair to WHO, almost all of us knew he was the genuine article from his debut onwards.

Almost all of us.

Takashi Miike 2:33 Fri Sep 17
Re: Article on Captain Fantastic Declan Rice
said it last night, best central midfielder in europe. anyone that can overshadow kroos/goretzka the way he did in the euros is top level. I think someone like madrid will take him, if man u don't pay the money

Grumpster 2:26 Fri Sep 17
Re: Article on Captain Fantastic Declan Rice
Certainly isn't going to be the same without him next season after his inevitable departure.

What a player and bloke he is.

Moncurs Putting Iron 12:36 Fri Sep 17
Re: Article on Captain Fantastic Declan Rice
*Notices Irish posted article and puts Teams call on mute to read it*

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