Arsenal legend Ian Wright has come to the defence of West Ham captain Declan Rice after the midfielder was the subject of fierce criticism from fellow pundit Roy Keane.
The former Manchester United player said he doesn’t believe the 24-year-old has had a great season, claiming that his performances are not even standing out in a poor Hammers team. Responding to the diatribe, Wright made three important points. He believes Rice had a good World Cup, but he is playing for a club that are struggling in front of goal. Combined with the fact that he has also become a marked man in midfield, Wright thinks it’s hard for him to perform at his very best:
“I hink it’s a bit harsh. I thought he had a pretty good World Cup. I feel like the team he’s playing in, yes they’re not playing great. But I think when you look at what he’s doing from that six position trying to get forward, no real strikers scoring consistently and of course, him being a focal point he’s going to get a lot of attention in that respect. But he is ready to go to that next level because he is one of our best.”
While Keane’s criticisms are damning, it is important to point out that the Irishman does like to stir the pot. He is outspoken by nature and his critique of Rice is based on a limited number of games.
Those West Ham supporters who watch him week in, week out, won’t recognise the player that Keane is trying to depict, and it was at least heartening to see Wright pushing back.