Declan Rice can remember clearly the first time he made a mistake that warranted a reaction from David Moyes. Arsenal away in April 2018.
With the score level, a mistake from the West Ham United Academy graduate permitted the Gunners to retake the lead. Despite Rice’s tender age, and relative inexperience at the top level at the time, such an error could not be ignored by the West Ham manager.
Rice, by his own admission, had to take the telling off on the chin. It is the balance that Moyes brings that made the now 20-year-old an even better player.
The manager gets the best out of the players. If you’re not playing well, he will tell you straight. He’s got the right balance.
“It was the mistake at Arsenal, when I ducked under the ball, for the header, and the ball went in,” Rice recollected. “It was 1-1 at the time and I got out of the way of the ball. After, he come for me in the changing room in front of the lads.
“I was only young, and it was rightly deserved. I was old enough to play in the team and old enough to take it. It was the hairdryer treatment, but I took it well. I think he wanted to see how I would react to it, and then I think I went on to play every game in the rest of the season.
“He gets the best out of the players. If you’re not playing well, he will tell you straight. I had it a couple of times when I was here last time with him. Rightly so, he told me off for some of the mistakes I made, and when I played well, he praised you as well. He’s got the right balance. The lads are really happy with him.”
The returning manager could not have made a better start to life back at West Ham, with his side running out 4-0 winners over Bournemouth on Wednesday. It was a performance that Moyes himself credited to the players, but Rice says the boss deserves his share of the plaudits for pushing the team.
With a first win under their belts, Rice and his teammates are now targeting even more victories in the coming weeks.
“He’s come in straight away and he’s set the record straight,” the England international continued. “He’s said that we’ve not been running hard enough, we’ve not been working hard enough, and we’ve let our standards drop. He’s been on us from day one.
“The first meeting we had, he got us all together and he said ‘if you don’t run, you don’t play’, That was his policy last time. We’ve got 60,000 at London Stadium and we want to play good football.
“You could see in Wednesday’s performance that all the boys have rallied together, and it was great to start the new year with a 4-0 win. If you look at the players we’ve got;we shouldn’t be down there. I think the win over Bournemouth was a great start.
“What a way to start for the manager. He cares a lot and you can see it. He’s buzzing to be back here, and he got us playing well last time. We’re really excited to be playing under him again.”