As the old saying goes ‘there is no smoke without fire’. And over the summer numerous reports fanned the flames of speculation over Soucek’s West Ham future.
The likes of Claret and Hugh – who have strong contacts inside West Ham – and Football Insider persistently claimed a disagreement between Moyes and Soucek over a new contract could see the Czech Republic captain leave the club.
The midfielder remained but has – like many of his teammates – been a shadow of the player named Hammer of the Year not so long ago.
Many West Ham fans have been calling for Soucek to be dropped.
The lovable star’s struggles even carried over to international duty with the Czechs as he was substituted and heavily criticised in a 4-0 defeat to Portugal before missing a penalty in a 2-1 loss to Switzerland.
Amid all the criticism, though, there has been a lot of Soucek slander. The crucial defensive side of his game is often overlooked.
But there is no denying he has been struggling in possession and has seen his goal threat considerably diminished.
West Ham got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Wolves on Saturday and Soucek was a key figure with his usual hard graft for the cause.
And now West Ham captain Rice has confronted the Soucek elephant in the room head on.
Speaking after the win, Rice was asked about Soucek on West Ham TV and addressed his teammate’s struggles to find form.
Rice acknowledged his midfield partner has not been at his brilliant best but insisted he is a key player, not only for West Ham, but for the skipper too.
“Tom was brilliant today you know,” Rice said in his usual honest style on West Ham TV.
“You know what Tom brings to the team. He will always give you 100 per cent and he’ll come off the pitch with nothing left.
“He’ll work his socks off. He breaks balls up, he makes my life easier. So the quicker we can get Tom (to) keep playing, keep going and keep getting back in the box (the better).
“I keep telling him ‘go back in the box, score your goals’ but of course he wants to help the team out as well because he’s such a good guy.”