Declan Rice hailed a ‘collective great team performance’ after West Ham United scored their first Premier League victory of the season at Everton.
The teenager marked his return to the starting XI with an imperious deep-lying midfield display at Goodison Park, where he provided a shield for the back four, prompted numerous attacking moves and dovetailed superbly with the impressive Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang.
Speaking to whufc.com after West Ham's 3-1 win, Rice was quick to praise his teammates and manager Manuel Pellegrini.
I thought it was a collective great team performance today, so hopefully we can keep it going
“I really, really enjoyed it,” said the No41. “Obviously the first week against Liverpool was tough for me and I knew in myself that I had to improve. We’d worked on the tactics all week with me in there with Pedro and Nobes and it paid off. It was a really good moment for all of us.
“It’s good that I can play in two positions, as a centre-back or as a holding midfielder, as I just want to get minutes and get games. Like you saw in the second half, I can take control of a game and start passing it left and right and helping out with the defensive bits with Issa [Diop] and Fab [Balbuena], who I thought were excellent.
“I thought it was a collective great team performance today, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
While Marko Arnautovic, who registered an assist and his third goal of the season, was Sky Sports’ Man of the Match, Andriy Yarmolenko also caught the eye with two stunning goals – his first in English football – much to Rice’s delight.
“I’m happy for Yarmo because we’ve all been telling him to start shooting! He usually wants to walk it into the net, but he shot twice and scored two great goals.
“Obviously we need Arnie in our side as he’s such a great player, but like I said, everyone was excellent – Yarmo, Felipe in his defensive game – and it’s a massive three points for us.”
Such was the quality of West Ham’s all-round performance that it was virtually impossible to name a man of the match.
And the youngster revealed that a pre-match meeting led by Pablo Zabaleta and Mark Noble had inspired the Hammers to produce their most complete performance of the season so far.
“That was the thing before the game, we all got together and Zaba and Nobes said ‘Whatever happens today, go out and give 100 per cent because that’s what the fans want and that’s what West Ham are about’,” he confirmed.
“You could see that in the first half and in the second half, when Everton found it hard to break us down. I thought we were superb. We covered all the ground, made tackles, took some yellow cards and defended well.
“The goal we conceded was a bit sloppy but, overall, we were excellent.”