Declan Rice shone against Chelsea in yesterday’s 0-0 draw but West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini expected it, Football.London reports.
Pellegrini said that he watches how Rice plays in training and expects him to deliver top class performances.
Rice vs. Everton
Rice was recalled to the West Ham line-up last weekend. The Hammers had lost their opening four Premier League games.
With Pellegrini’s new 4-3-3 system, Rice plays as the holding midfielder in a central trio.
Against Everton last weekend, the 19-year-old put in a man of the match shift, helping West Ham pick up their first win of the campaign.
Rice vs. Chelsea
There was no doubt that Rice would retain his spot for the Chelsea game. But this was a different test for the teenager for two reasons.
Firstly, Rice was up against his former club. Chelsea released him as a schoolboy.
But also, the quality of opposition was much higher than Everton last weekend. The likes of Eden Hazard and Mateo Kovacic have been in top form and Chelsea had won all five of their games this season.
However, Rice rose to the occasion and was in contention for man of the match again. He won everything in the air, making great tackles, blocks and interceptions and demonstrating his passing ability.
The 3-cap Republic of Ireland international is really establishing himself as a first-team star.
Pellegrini on Rice
Pellegrini was effusive in his praise for Rice, even if he did say he wasn’t impressed. The bar that the youngster sets himself is high and Pellegrini’s words will keep him grounded.
Asked whether Rice impressed him, Pellegrini said: “Impressed, no, because I see Declan working every day of the week and I know the way he does it.
“He has a lot of intensity, he’s great, he’s learning a lot about what to do, his position, and I said at the beginning of the season he could be a very good centre-back or a very good holding midfielder. He’s taken his chance and I’m very happy for him.”