Intelligence. Discipline. Passing insight. Graceful carrying the ball forward. Relentless in an entrance. .
Declan Rice’s qualities have long been obvious, as has how much Manchester United need a player of his caliber at the heart of their team.
United have been in desperate need of a new midfielder for some time. But like a worm-for-diamond magpie, they just can’t help it and have instead wasted recent transfer windows by repeatedly adding to their bulging attacking options.
Jadon Sancho had been dogged for some time before he finally arrived in the summer and the move was justified as a new right winger was needed, but the additional addition of Cristiano Ronaldo later in the same window was clearly not planned.
She did it in a blind panic at the prospect of him going to the blue half of Manchester.
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It was a signing based on social media engagement and shirt sales rather than the need for a player of his undeniable but fading quality. An excess.
While the body continued to receive fresh paint, the engine was left in a state of disrepair.
Paul Pogba prefers to play later and is too attack-minded to play a deeper role, Nemanja Matic can no longer play well more than once a week and Donny van de Beek never had a chance.
As a result, United have stuck with the tired partnership of Fred and Scott McTominay which, while both players have had some good times and individual performances, has never worked out consistently.
Any team with a capable midfield that can hit the ball very well can, and does, dominate United in midfield. The Wolves duo of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho had a field day in their victory last month.
It looks like the issue will finally be addressed this summer, at least, as a new midfielder is understood to be the top priority and Rice is a key target.
West Ham’s talisman ticks all the boxes to be able to solve United’s problems in midfield and showed another this weekend that would benefit the whole team and further shows why United should sign him.
On Friday night, United fell to another embarrassing defeat, with their lowest point even lower as Middlesbrough eliminated them from the FA Cup.
It was a penalty shootout loss, Boro’s goal probably shouldn’t have prevailed and United missed several chances to win easily, but with the amount of money and talent in that team they should be able to overcome some minor adversity and beat a championship side. Especially in 120 minutes. However, they did not
The next day, West Ham were looking down the barrel of an even more sobering defeat, they were losing 1-0 to Kidderminster Harriers, a non-league side, a team that sit 113 places below the Hammers in the pyramid. football, as the clock ticked towards the end. minute 90
The Kidderminster defenders stood their ground, allowing no gaps to form and blocking a quality Premier League attack.
Then he stepped up to Rice.
With the air of a man who has finished playing, he took it upon himself to break hearts and pull his team out of the mud.
Rice had discovered that space was opening up in the tired defense, between right back and centre-back, and he began to squeeze into that gap, making things happen for his side and creating chances. After seeing the opportunities go to waste, he decided to take one for himself.
After bringing the ball forward again, he passed it to Pablo Fornals and continued his run towards the heart of the defence. He received the ball back, took a touch to evade a challenge and then absolutely slammed it into the roof of the goal. Watch the replay and a lone anguished cry from a Kidderminster fan, no doubt sure what was about to happen, can be heard in the background.
West Ham went on to cause the Harriers more agony when they won the match in the last minute of extra time to advance to the next round. They wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Rice’s presentation.
The Irons had been listless without him, but his grit and determination began to make things happen. Almost in the style of Roy Keane, he took the game by the back of the head and made sure his team got through.
He’s still only 23 years old, but that display, despite the fact that against a team from the NL North, showed the leadership and quality of character that United have been missing for so long.
When United were in trouble, no one intervened. No player was responsible for saving the club from more eggs in the face. Instead, they are out of another competition and will almost certainly go through a fifth season without a trophy.
That might not change anytime soon if Rice isn’t signed this summer.
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