Declan Rice’s controversial decision to switch international allegiance will prove to be the worst of his career and West Ham will pay the price in more ways than one.
The young midfield enforcer has been riding the crest of a wave for much of the last two years.
But his decision to switch from Republic of Ireland to England courted controversy and criticism.
Ever since, there has been a negative agenda against the Hammers hero.
Negative Rice agenda
Any slight mistake is magnified. And the hero worship he enjoys at West Ham – and would almost certainly have revelled in as one of the Republic’s key players – is replaced by sniping and harsh, often inaccurate criticism.
Playing for England in such a crucial area of the pitch has seen his performances for West Ham and the Three Lions analysed in minutiae.
Long-term the media and pundits will not rest until Rice is playing for one of their sycophantically named “big six”.
Murmurings of Rice “needing to leave” to improve his game have already begun.
West Ham will pay the price, twice
West Ham will inevitably pay the price as the pressure on Rice to leave the Hammers will eventually take its toll. It always does.
But the East Londoners will also pay the price in the short-term too as the negative press starts to affect his performances. Rice was widely criticised for his performance in England’s defeat to Czech Republic last week.
Suffering with a virus he was then left out for the victory over Bulgaria. Rival midfielder Harry Winks shone in his stead.
The criticism and pressure looked like it was getting to Rice as he turned in one of his worst performances for West Ham in the 2-0 loss at Everton.
He was certainly not alone in playing poorly at Goodison Park.
Dec should have stuck with the Republic
Had Rice remained with the Republic he would have been appreciated a lot more. As a result his performances would have been judged more fairly.
In the games he played for the Republic Rice was named man of the match twice and received much adulation.
Mick McCarthy even promised to build the entire team around the West Ham star.
Rice will be hurting right now. But it seems the biggest losers from what will surely be the worst decision of Rice’s career, will be West Ham.